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Israel applauds US for longshot bid to reimpose Iran sanctions

Netanyahu and others urge international community to take action to curb Tehran, PM accuses Security Council of being ‘complicit in arming Iran’s murderous regime’

Iranian protesters burn Israeli and US flags on June 8, 2018. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iranian protesters burn Israeli and US flags on June 8, 2018. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Israel praised the US Thursday for its longshot bid to have the UN Security Council reinstate sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally notified the Security Council Thursday that the US was seeking to restore UN sanctions on Iran lifted in 2015, citing Tehran’s non-compliance with the terms of the landmark agreement, which saw Iran agree to curb enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief.

Pompeo argued that though the US pulled out of the deal, it still has the right to invoke snapback as an original participant and a permanent Security Council member.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Israel’s new ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan all urged the UN to back the re-imposition of sanctions, praising the US for the “brave” move.

Netanyahu, who had been among the most vocal opponents of the nuclear deal and had urged the Trump administration to abandon it, railed against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the nuclear deal, as a “dereliction of its duty to protect international peace and security” that “effectively makes the Security Council complicit in arming Iran’s murderous regime.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departs a meeting with members of the U.N. Security Council about Iran’s alleged non-compliance with a nuclear deal at the United Nations in New York, August 20, 2020. (MIKE SEGAR / POOL / AFP)

“Israel stands proudly and firmly with the United States, as do governments across the Middle East who opposed the JCPOA quietly and now support the restoration of sanctions publicly,” he said in a statement. “Ultimately, the tyrants of Tehran must understand this: If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, it must start acting like a normal country. That has not yet happened.”

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called the American declaration a “brave and important move,” made all the more necessary by the lifting of an arms embargo on Iran last week.

“I call on the international community to support the American initiative and restore to the international system the stability that comes from full compliance with Security Council resolutions,” he said in a statement.

Then Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at a ceremony to install his replacement Amir Ohana, held at the Public Security Ministry in Jerusalem on May 18, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Reimposing the UN sanctions on Iran is a critical step to curbing Iranian aggression, which threatens the entire world,” said Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan. “The Security Council should not allow the world’s largest terror regime to obtain and trade lethal weapons and ballistic missiles freely. Nor should it pave the way for Iran to fulfil its nuclear ambitions. Now is the time for the international community to act decisively and impose crippling sanctions on Iran. Not to reward its malicious aspirations.”

The other signatories to the deal, China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany, have already signaled that they are unlikely to support putting sanctions back on Iran, fearing it could lead to the total collapse of the nuclear deal allowing Iran to plow ahead with efforts to develop atomic weapons.

The Trump administration says it withdrew precisely because the deal eased sanctions, opening major revenue streams for Iran while gradually easing restrictions on its nuclear activities that those revenues could pay for.

Centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, November 5, 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

US President Donald Trump and Pompeo had made no secret of their intention to pursue snapback, particularly after the administration’s embarrassing defeat last week at the Security Council on extending the arms embargo on Iran that expires in October. The US won just one other “yes” vote, with China and Russia opposed and the 11 other members abstaining.

Hawkish pro-Israel lobby AIPAC said in a statement that the defeat of the arms embargo resolution left the US with “no choice,” but to pursue snapback as a means of checking Iran’s activity.

“Our objectives must remain to ensure that Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon, to prevent the regime from further destabilizing the Middle East, and to support regional allies confronting Iranian aggression,” it said.

The heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also urged the UN to take action against Iran.

“The international community must not ignore the clear, present, and proven danger of Iran, which is set on sowing chaos and destruction, extending its control, and imposing its radical ideology. Urgent action needs to be taken in the limited time available,” they said in a statement.

However progressive pro-Israel lobby J Street pilloried the White House for attempting to invoke the clause after leaving the deal, calling it “the latest damning evidence of this administration’s fecklessness and bad faith in the international arena.”

“The administration’s sabotaging of diplomacy with Iran has led to this point — a self-inflicted security crisis presenting a host of dangers to the United States and our partners,” J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said in a statement. “Thanks to ‘maximum pressure,’ Iran is no longer fully complying with the agreement that had successfully blocked its pathways to a nuclear weapon, and its hardliners are emboldened and operating with a freer hand.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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