Iran nuclear deal: UN rejects US bid to ‘snapback’ Iran sanctions

US ambassador Kelly Craft (L) watches Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) speak at the UN in New York (20 August 2020)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionKelly Craft and Mike Pompeo submitted a complaint to the UN security council on Thursday

The UN Security Council has blocked a controversial bid by the US to trigger the “snapback” of all sanctions on Iran lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal.

Indonesia’s permanent representative, who holds the rotating presidency, said many of the 15 member states contested the move because the US withdrew from the accord two years ago.

The US envoy accused them of “standing in the company of terrorists”.

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Iran’s foreign minister said “lawless bullying” had left the US isolated.

The Trump administration attempted to initiate the snapback process last week, after the security council rejected a draft US resolution that would have extended indefinitely an arms embargo on Iran due to expire in mid-October.

Under the nuclear deal, the P5+1 group of world powers – China, France, Russia, the UK, the US and Germany – gave Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its sensitive activities to show it was not developing nuclear weapons.

Media captionInside Iran: Iranians on Trump and the nuclear deal

The accord has been close to collapse since President Donald Trump abandoned it and reinstated US economic sanctions in 2018 in an attempt to force Iran to negotiate a replacement that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear programme and also halt its development of ballistic missiles.

Iran has so far refused and has retaliated against the US sanctions by rolling back a number of key commitments, including those on the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear warheads.

Last Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally submitted a complaint accusing Iran of “significant non-compliance” with the nuclear deal and giving other security council members 30 days to adopt a resolution to stop the snapback.

He stressed that under security council resolution 2231, which endorsed the accord, the US had a legal right to do so because it was still named as a participant.