WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States unilaterally proclaimed on Saturday that UN sanctions against Iran were back in force and promised to punish those who violate them, in a move that risks increasing Washington’s isolation but also international tensions.
“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
According to him, the measures were “back in effect” from 8:00 pm Washington time (Sunday).
The administration of President Donald Trump also promised to “impose consequences” on any UN member state which does not comply with the sanctions, even though the United States is one of the only countries in the world which believes they are in force.
The threat is formidable: those deemed to be in defiance by Washington will be denied access to the US financial system and markets.
“If UN member states fail to fulfil their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo stated.
He promised that measures would be announced in the coming days against “violators.”
With 45 days to go until the November 3 election, Trump could unveil those measures during his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
However, the US is almost alone on the issue: all other major powers – China, Russia and also Washington’s own European allies – have challenged the claim.
“Any decision or action taken with a view to re-installing (the sanctions) would be incapable of legal effect,” France, Britain and Germany said in a joint letter sent Friday to the Security Council and of which AFP obtained a copy.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, also lamented the decision.
“It’s very painful to see how a great country humiliates itself like this, opposes in its obstinate delirium other members of UN Security Council,” he tweeted.
“We all clearly said in August that US claims to trigger #snapback are illegitimate. Is Washington deaf?”
The Americans themselves realise the statement is a “false claim,” Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said Saturday.
In mid-August, the US suffered a resounding defeat at the UN Security Council when it tried to extend the embargo on conventional weapons being sent to Tehran, which was due to expire in October.
Pompeo made an unusually vehement attack on France, Britain and Germany, accusing them of “siding with Iran’s ayatollahs,” and on August 20 announced the controversial “snapback,” which aimed to re-establish all sanctions against Tehran a month later.