The United States unilaterally announced that the United Nations sanctions against Iran had entered into force again and warned of the “consequences” of not adhering to them, in a move many powers, including Washington’s allies, deemed lacking legal basis.
The reactivation of the so-called “Snapback” mechanism that was announced last month was met with condemnation from Tehran, which called on the rest of the world to stand together in the face of Washington’s “reckless” moves.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday, “Today, the United States welcomes the return of nearly all United Nations sanctions that were previously canceled on the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
Pompeo explained that the sanctions entered into force as of 20:00 Saturday Washington time (Sunday 00 GMT).
The administration of US President Donald Trump has pledged “consequences” for any member state of the United Nations that does not abide by the sanctions, although Washington appears alone in considering that the sanctions are imposed.
The UN sanctions were lifted in 2015 when Iran signed the international agreement in which it pledged not to pursue nuclear weapons.
However, US President Donald Trump considers this agreement negotiated by his predecessor President Barack Obama as insufficient and announced the withdrawal of the United States from it in 2018 and re-imposed and even tightened his country’s sanctions on Iran.
Currently, the United States insists that it is still a partner in the agreement from which it withdrew, with the aim of reactivating the “Snapback” mechanism.
Almost all member states of the Security Council object to the possibility of Washington taking advantage of this situation, and thus the Security Council did not respond to the US effort.
On Sunday, a joint statement was issued by the two permanent members of the Security Council – France and Britain – in addition to the non-permanent member Germany, in which it was stated that the supposed “notice Pompeo” “could not have any legal effect”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also considered that the Washington declaration lacked a legal basis.
“By their nature, illegal US initiatives and actions cannot have international legal consequences for other countries,” said.
In turn, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatib Zadeh said during a press conference in Tehran, “We expect the international community and all countries of the world to stand against these reckless moves by the regime in the White House and to speak with one voice”.
Pompeo pledged that measures to be taken against “violators” would be announced within days.
“If the member states of the United Nations fail to fulfill their duties to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our internal powers to impose consequences on those behind these failures and to ensure that Iran does not gain from this activity prohibited by the United Nations,” he said.
Trump is expected to address the details of these measures during his upcoming speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, which comes before the presidential elections scheduled for November 3, in which he seeks to win a second term.
Pompeo strongly denounced France, Britain and Germany, accusing them of “bias towards the ayatollahs” of Iranians.
On August 20, it activated the controversial “Snapback” mechanism.
But the Trump administration is behaving as if international sanctions have been re-imposed on Tehran, while the international community continues to act as if nothing had happened.
Washington stresses that the arms embargo has been extended “indefinitely” and that many activities related to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs are now the target of international sanctions.
“Nothing will happen,” a UN diplomat said, adding that it was “like pulling the trigger without the bullet being fired”.
Another diplomat denounced Washington’s “unilateral” move, saying that “Russia and China will watch with satisfaction… the enormously destabilizing implications” of the rift between Washington and its European partners.
Russia’s representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Poliansky, condemned the decision.
“It is painful to see how a country can insult itself in this way, and oppose with its obstinate delirium the rest of the Security Council members,” he said.
“We all said clearly in August that the US allegations about the release of Snapback are illegal… Is Washington deaf?
However, the level of tension may continue to rise if the United States actually implements its threat to impose secondary sanctions on those who do not adhere to the new measures against Iran.