UN Security Council rejects US demand to ‘snap back’ Iran sanctions

All 15 council members, except Dominican Republic, had informed body’s president that Trump administration’s action was illegal because US withdrew from JCPOA in 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters following a meeting with members of the UN Security Council, August 20, 2020, at the United Nations. (Mike Segar/Pool via AP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters following a meeting with members of the UN Security Council, August 20, 2020, at the United Nations. (Mike Segar/Pool via AP)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The president of the UN Security Council on Tuesday rejected the Trump administration’s demand to restore all UN sanctions on Iran, a move that drew an angry rebuke from the US ambassador who accused opponents of supporting “terrorists.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UN, Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country currently holds the rotating council presidency, made the announcement in response to requests from Russia and China to disclose the results of his polling of the views of all countries on the 15-member council.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted last Thursday that the United States has the legal right to “snap back” UN sanctions, even though President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers that was endorsed by the UN Security Council.

All the council members, except the Dominican Republic, had informed the council president that the US administration’s action was illegal because Trump withdrew in 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Council president Djani told members at the end of a virtual meeting on the Mideast on Tuesday: “Having contacted the members and received letters from many member countries it is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views.”

In this July 20, 2015, file photo, members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters on the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. (AP/Seth Wenig, File)

“In my view there is no consensus in the council,” Djani said. “Thus, the president is not in the position to take further action.“

That means the UN’s most powerful body, at least during Indonesia’s presidency, is not going to take up the US demand. Niger takes over the council presidency in September, and its ambassador also sent a letter calling the US action illegal. So it is likely to ignore the US demand as well.

The US mission to the UN later issued a statement saying the US “is on firm legal ground to initiate the restoration of sanctions” under the Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The fact that some council members expressed disagreement with our legal position in an informal VTC (virtual meeting) does not have any legal effect,” the mission said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flanked by US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft as he speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters in New York, August 20, 2020. (MIKE SEGAR / POOL / AFP)

Pompeo came to the United Nations after the Security Council resoundingly rejected a US resolution to indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire on Oct. 18, with only the Dominican Republic supporting the United States.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft on Tuesday repeated Pompeo’s message: “The United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles, and other kinds of conventional weapons … (or) to have a nuclear weapon.”

Craft accused the council of lacking “courage and moral clarity” and accused Iran of defying the arms embargo and “fomenting conflict and murder throughout the world as it supplies weapons to proxy militias and terrorist groups.”

“The Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company in this matter in light of the unmistakable truth in guiding our actions,” she said. “I only regret that the other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”

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