US Pushes Ahead With ‘Snapback’ Sanctions And ‘Maximum Pressure’ On Iran

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US Pushes Ahead With ‘Snapback’ Sanctions And ‘Maximum Pressure’ On Iran

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 and succeeded in lowering tensions in the Middle East until the Trump administration entered the scene

Iran has promised to inflict a ‘crushing response’ against the United States for continuing its unilateral crusade to put ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran to comply with Washington’s dictates and bullying adversaries and allies alike to force them to support the reimposition of punitive sanctions against Iran.

US Secretary of State Pompeo is demanding that other countries comply with the US decision to activate ‘snapback sanctions’ pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that the US unilaterally pulled out of in May 2018.

Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its compliance with the commitments made under the pact, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Even so, Iran has been subjected to the most comprehensive international inspections regime of any country in the world with respect to its nuclear program and continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has consistently confirmed that it has found no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Thirteen of the 15 UNSC members said that the US request to activate the ‘snapback sanctions’ provisions is illegal since it has withdrawn from the JCPOA and is therefore no longer a party to the agreement, which was signed by the US, France, Germany, the UK, Russia, China, Iran and the EU in 2015. Washington argues that as one of the five permanent Security Council members, it has a right to call for the snapback sanctions.

Eleven council members abstained in the vote to extend the arms embargo pursuant to the JCPOA, with Russia and China opposing the measure. Only the US and the Dominican Republic supported the resolution.

In a letter to the Security Council, the European signatories to the deal – the UK, France and Germany – have stated that the winding down of the UN sanctions against Iran would continue, adding any decision or action by the US to reimpose them “would be incapable of legal effect”.

Undeterred by the failure to get the Security Council to endorse the US move, Pompeo announced the re-implementation of “virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

In his latest statement on the matter, Pompeo outlined key elements of the US plan to unilaterally impose the sanctions, asserting that:

“The United States took this decisive action because, in addition to Iran’s failure to perform its JCPOA commitments, the Security Council failed to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which had been in place for 13 years.

The Security Council’s inaction would have paved the way for Iran to buy all manner of conventional weapons on Oct. 18. Fortunately for the world, the United States took responsible action to stop this from happening. In accordance with our rights under UNSCR 2231, we initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions, including the arms embargo. The world will be safer as a result.”

The measures include a complete weapons embargo, restrictions on uranium enrichment, a ban on ballistic missile testing or development, and sanctions for the transfer of missile-related technology.

In a statement following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Pompeo threatened ‘consequences’ for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures.

The White House plans to issue an executive order on Monday spelling out how the US will enforce the restored sanctions, and the State and Treasury departments are expected to outline how foreign individuals and businesses will be penalised for violations.

On Sunday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation in a live televised cabinet meeting, during which he congratulated world powers for resisting US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions and saying that the effort “has reached its definitive point of failure.”

Today, Rouhani said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy.

America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move … It faced defeat and negative response from the international community. We will never yield to US pressure and Iran will give a crushing response to America’s bullying…

Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”

Pointing out how the US tried to obtain the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the US expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition to adopt more comprehensive counter-measures against Tehran.

The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Iran will also fully implement its commitments. LINK

Israel is also doing everything it can to support the US statements and actions. On Monday, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, addressed an official letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanding that the UN re-establish its Sanctions Committee and the Panel of Experts, which have been monitoring the enforcement of the Iranian sanctions.

“Iran has blatantly violated the nuclear agreement and its ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons have been exposed,” Erdan asserted in the letter.

“Therefore, in accordance with the ‘snapback’ mechanism made available at the signing of the agreement and recently initiated by the United States, all sanctions imposed on the regime are to be reinstated, and the UN Secretary-General must take the required action as set forth in the relevant Security Council resolutions.”

Erdan added that “in recent years, Iran has proven itself to be the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” adding that Iran “has never renounced its nuclear program and continues to proliferate weapons to its proxies in our region and beyond…

Wherever there is slaughter and bloodshed, we see the direct involvement of the Iranian regime. Therefore, it poses a clear threat to the stability and security of the Middle East and of the world”

“The United Nations must act immediately to impose crippling sanctions on the regime and to put an end to its murderous actions,” continued Erdan, concluding his letter by emphasizing that “Iran constitutes the greatest threat to the Middle East today, if not to the entire world.” LINK

The US decision to push ahead with unilateral punitive sanction sets the stage for a showdown at the UN as the General Assembly prepares for its annual session to begin this week.

While Russia and China – both of which are also subject to punitive US sanctions – can be expected to help Iran thwart the US sanctions and any attempt to impose a blockade (and possibly Iran’s neighbour Turkey as well), the question remains whether other UN member states will be able to resist the intense US ‘diplomatic’ and economic pressure.

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