The US announced on Saturday night that UN sanctions are being reimposed on Iran. The snapback of sanctions was triggered 30 days ago, following the Security Council’s vote not to extend the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic. It was not immediately clear if other members of the Security Council would comply with the new sanctions.
Russia and China opposed the American move to extend the arms embargo, and the UK, France and Germany raised objections as well.
The sanctions were suspended following the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
Virtually all @UN sanctions have returned on Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism. This includes a permanent extension of the arms embargo. This is great news for peace in the region!
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 20, 2020
“The Trump Administration has always understood that the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East comes from the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose violent efforts to spread revolution have killed thousands and upended the lives of millions of innocent people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Saturday night.
“History shows appeasement only emboldens such regimes. Thus today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and antisemitism.”
Pompeo added in his statement that the US expects all UN Member States “to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures.”
He noted that in addition to the arms embargo, this includes restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in enrichment and reprocessing-related activities, the prohibition of ballistic-missile testing and development and sanctions on the transfer of nuclear – and missile-related technologies to Iran, among other measures.
“If UN Member States fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo’s statement reads.
The Secretary of State noted that in the coming days, Washington will announce “a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable.
“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran reaches a comprehensive agreement with us to rein in its proliferation threats and stops spreading chaos, violence and bloodshed,” he added.
Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said that Iran continues to be a danger to the world, and its leaders are still developing its nuclear weapons programs and funding proxies throughout the Middle East.
“Continued pressure by the American government against Iranian aggression is a necessary tool and I praise the uncompromising efforts to stop it and promote stability in our region,” Gantz said.
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan explained earlier this month that if the international community ignores the snapback sanctions, it will be a “historic threat” to the UN and its efforts “to preserve peace in the world will collapse.”
“The UN and UNSC are built on international law and compliance. If [UNSC member states] decide there is no compliance, then any country can decide on its own that it won’t listen when it doesn’t want to…This threatens the UNSC’s ability to make binding decisions,” he said.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked the US for taking action.
“I call on all countries to stand with the US, prevent the sale of weapons to Iran and to enforce the sanctions in their entirety,” Ashkenazi said.
He also called on France, the UK and Germany, known as the E3, to “work towards rigorously implementing the sanctions regime on the national level, as well as on the EU level and through UN mechanisms.”
EU sanctions on Iran are in force until 2023.
On Saturday, the E3 pushed back at the US and said that it did not recognize its authority to snapback the sanctions, a move that would effectively bring an end to the 2015 Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The US announcement, the E3 said, “is incapable of having legal effect.”
Thirteen of the 15 UNSC members have opposed the US use of the snapback mechanism as defined by UNSC Resolution 2231, given that the Trump administration had withdrawn from the JCPOA in 2018.
The E3 countries, all of whom are UNSC members and signatories to the deal, said “we remain guided by the objective of upholding the authority and integrity of the United Nations Security Council.
“The E3 remains committed to fully implementing UNSCR 2231 (2015) by which the JCPoA was endorsed in 2015. We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” it added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement rejecting the US declaration, noting that the UN Security Council had not taken any action in the last month that would lead to the snapback of the sanctions.
The Trump administration’s declaration stems from “wishful thinking” given that it is “illegal” and cannot have any “international legal consequence,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Russia is also a UNSC member and a signatory to the JCPOA.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.