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Pompeo defends US move to trigger ‘snapback’ of sanctions on Iran

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Sipa USA/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended Washington’s move to formally begin the process of activating a mechanism aimed at reimposing UN sanctions on Iran citing Iranian violations of a 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington exited in 2018.

Pompeo on August 20 submitted a letter to the president of the UN Security Council notifying him of Iran’s “significant” noncompliance with the terms of the landmark accord.

The move marked the start of Washington’s bid to trigger the so-called “snapback” procedure, which is opposed by its European allies on the 15-member council.

“Our actions today too should come as no surprise to anyone,” Pompeo told a news conference at the UN. “President Trump and this administration have discarded the fiction that the regime merely seeks a peaceful nuclear program.”

As set out by the resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, a so-called snapback would reimpose UN sanctions that were eased in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

But the U.S. move faces opposition at the Security Council, where other members have questioned the United States’ right to do it since Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal more than two years ago and reimposed unilateral sanctions.

The United States claims it remains a “participant” in the accord because it was listed as such in the UN resolution that enshrined it.

Pompeo said it is “very plain” in the wording of resolution 2231, which enshrined the deal, that any signatory that finds Iran not in compliance has the capacity to request a snapback of the sanctions.

“It’s important to emphasize this: 2231 gave every one of the participant states the right to execute snapback unconditionally,” Pompeo said, defending the U.S. move.

‘Serious And Profound Crisis’

In a letter to the United Nations, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the U.S. has no right to trigger the reimposition of all UN sanctions on his country while calling on Security Council members to reject Washington’s move.

“The U.S. push to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran will have dangerous consequences … Iran has exercised restraint in good faith … Now it is the international community’s turn to counter the unlawful push by the United States,” Zarif said in the letter.

Iranian state TV said the letter was sent to the head of the UN Security Council by Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takhteravanchi, who said he was confident that the Security Council would reject the U.S. move.

“A permanent member of the Security Council is acting like a child, is being ridiculed by the other members of the international community,” he told reporters.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on August 20 that the U.S. move to reinstate UN sanctions will “lead to nothing” while “creating a very serious and profound crisis in the UN Security Council,” according to Interfax.

France, Germany and Britain said they cannot support the U.S. move to restore United Nations sanctions on Iran, saying the action is incompatible with efforts to support the Iran nuclear deal.

“In order to preserve the agreement, we urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with its nuclear commitments and return to full compliance without delay,” the three nations said in a joint statement.