The US has demanded United Nations sanctions are restored on Iran over claims it has violated a nuclear deal – despite America abandoning the agreement two years ago.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a letter to the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday, which in theory starts a 30-day process that could lead to the “snapback” of sanctions.
However the UK, France and Germany said they cannot support the move, arguing it is incompatible with efforts to support the Iran nuclear deal.
But in a joint statement the three countries added: “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.”
Russia also opposed the US demand, with its UN ambassador calling the plan to restore sanctions on Iran as “non-existent”.
In 2018 US President Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, which was designed to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, arguing that its limitations on Tehran’s atomic activities were inadequate.
America maintains that, under the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the agreement, it retains the right as an initial party to invoke the provision to “snapback” sanctions.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Mr Pompeo said Iran had breached many of the deal’s central limits – but did not acknowledge this mostly came after the US had pulled out of the deal.
“Iran’s non-performance is incontestable and a matter of public record,” said the letter, citing Iran’s enrichment of uranium above 3.67%, amassing of an enriched uranium stockpile beyond the agreement’s 300kg ceiling, and other violations.
The process to re-impose sanctions on Iran begins. Today I hand-delivered a letter to @UN Security Council President Dian Triansyah Djani to formally notify the Council of something we all know too well—Iran’s failure to meet its commitments under the terrible nuclear deal. pic.twitter.com/MltLupj7lg
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 20, 2020
Mr Pompeo said: “As President Donald Trump said, we will not continue down a path whose predictable end is more violence, terror, and a nuclear armed Iran.
“The UN Security Council failed to hold Iran accountable, enabled the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell deadly weapons, and ignored the demands of countries in the Middle East. In New York today, America will correct these errors.”
In a letter to the UN Security Council submitted, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Washington had no right to trigger the “snapback” mechanism as it was no longer a party to the pact.
“The US push to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran will have dangerous consequences,” Mr Zarif’s letter said.
“Now it is the international community’s turn to counter the unlawful push by the United States.”
Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran committed to limit its nuclear activities in return for wide relief from sanctions.
A snapback of UN sanctions would require Iran to suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and ban imports of anything that could contribute to those activities or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.
It would reimpose the arms embargo, ban Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and bring back targeted sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities.
Countries also would be urged to inspect shipments to and from Iran and authorised to seize any banned cargo.