The Trump administration intends to declare U.N. sanctions reimposed on Iran in the coming days, a month after it triggered a “snapback” mechanism in the Security Council resolution pertaining to the Iran nuclear deal -- but the move is likely to be ignored by a number of countries, including U.S. allies.
“We will return to the United Nations to reimpose sanctions so that the arms embargo will become permanent next week,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference with the U.K. foreign minister Wednesday. “We believe deeply that this is good for the peoples of all nations.”
Pompeo went to the U.N. last month to trigger the “snapback” mechanism in Security Council Resolution 2231 -- the resolution that enshrined the Iran nuclear deal. The mechanism triggers a 30-day countdown to the reimposition of most expired or expiring U.N. sanctions against the theocratic regime, including an arms embargo due to expire in October as part of the 2015 accord.
But other countries on the council, including China, Russia, the U.K., France and Germany, have opposed the move by the U.S. and appear set to ignore it. They argue that because the U.S. left the Iran deal in 2018 it is not in a position to trigger snapback.
“Our position regarding the effectiveness of the U.S. notification pursuant to resolution 2231 has consequently been very clearly expressed to the presidency and all UNSC Members,” Germany, France and the U.K. said in a statement last month. “We cannot, therefore, support this action, which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA.”
The Security Council’s president at that time refused to take up the U.S. request. But the U.S. has forged ahead, raising questions about what will happen when the U.S. declares the sanctions reimposed and it is ignored by allies and foes alike.
The move has the potential to lead to a credibility crisis at the U.N., coming just ahead of the body’s General Assembly next week. Pompeo on Wednesday didn’t go into detail but promised the U.S. would “do its share as part of the – its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East.”
“We’ll do all the things we need to do to ensure that those sanctions are enforced,” he said.
Reuters reported that U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela and Iran Elliott Abrams said the U.S. could deny access to the U.S. market to anyone who trades in weapons with Iran. Whatever happens, it is likely it will lead to frostier relations at Turtle Bay between the U.S. and other members of the international community.
Abrams told reporters that sanctions will be reimposed at 8 p.m. E.T. on Saturday.
“If other nations do not follow it,” he said, “I think they should be asked ... whether they do not think they are weakening the structure of U.N. sanctions.”
Meanwhile, Pompeo said Wednesday the U.S. "maximum pressure" strategy against Iran was working.
“I think anyone who has stared at the state of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s financial situation today, the fact they can no longer have the resources to underwrite Hezbollah and the Shia militias in all of the places that they have spent money for nefarious activities for all of these years, those resources are greatly reduced, their capacity to inflict harm around the world is greatly reduced,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.