Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- US attempts to impose snap-back sanctions on Iran, over supposed breaches of the JCPOA nuclear deal, have resulted in unaccustomed resistance from all Security Council Members except the Dominican Republic. Even Britain, normally completely under US influence, has refused to allow the US to use the terms of the agreement after they themselves left it. This is all the more unusual as London is currently attempting to negotiate a new free trade agreement with Washington in the light of Brexit, which comes into full effect in January 2021.
US says it plans to enforce sanctions unilaterally anyway as if they were UN based, whatever the Security Council says. This could mean blockades and seizures of oil or arms shipments of any nation at sea or by air.
US Secretary of State Pompeo says the move is a demonstration of American leadership, and resistance will be viewed as siding with the ayatollahs. An unnamed diplomat commented that in withdrawing from the deal and then trying to use it against the parties within it, the US was being “unpleasant.”
The US is arguing that they are still part of the P5+1 nuclear deal, despite publicly disavowing it.
In the 24 hours since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day countdown to a return of U.N. sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo, long-time allies Britain, France, Germany and Belgium as well as China, Russia, Vietnam, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Indonesia, Estonia and Tunisia wrote letters in opposition, seen by Reuters.
The United States has accused Iran of breaching the 2015 deal that aimed to stop Tehran developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. President Donald Trump described it as the “worst deal ever” and left it in 2018.
Diplomats have commented that Russia, China and many other countries are unlikely to reimpose the sanctions on Iran. Pompeo again threatened Russia and China against that on Friday, threatening U.S. action if they refuse to reimpose the U.N. measures on Iran.
The United States acted on Thursday after the Security Council rejected its bid last week to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October. Only the Dominican Republic joined Washington in voting yes.
Under the process Washington says it has triggered, it claims all U.N. sanctions should be reimposed at midnight on Sept. 19 - just days before Trump is due to address world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.
The US is using convoluted legalistic arguments to get its way. A 2015 Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal states that if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a non-compliance complaint, then the body’s president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.
The United States would then be able to veto this resolution in the Security Council, giving it an argument that sanctions on Iran must be reimposed.
However, the 2015 resolution also says the council would “take into account the views of the states involved.” Given the strong opposition, some diplomats say the council president - Indonesia for August and Niger for September - would not even have to put up a draft text.
In a joint letter to the Security Council on Thursday hours after the U.S. submitted its complaint, Britain, Germany and France said: “Any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be devoid of any legal effect.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres distanced himself from the showdown in the Security Council.
“Security Council members will need to interpret their own resolution,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists. “It’s not the Secretary-General.”
Both Guterres and Washington’s usual allies will be hoping that this is all a stunt by President Trump and his administration in view of the US elections in November and not a serious long-term foreign policy initiative.