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Parties To Iran Nuclear Deal Meet In Vienna Amid U.S. Pressure

AUSTRIA -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi and Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid attend a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, September 1, 2020

Abdou Abbarry, the United Nations Ambassador for Niger who will be chairing the Security Council this month, said on Tuesday that Niger will follow last month's precedent and ignore the United States' attempt to restore all U.N. sanctions on Iran.

"We’re staying with this decision... that was stated and announced by the president of the Security Council last month,” Abbarry told an online press conference.

Indonesia, the president of the Security Council for August, took no action on the U.S. move on August 20 to attempt to trigger the 30-day process known as a "snapback" under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The disagreement over the JCPOA between the other signatories of the deal, consisting of Britain, France, Germany and Iran allies China and Russia – all veto-wielding members of the Security Council – has set the stage for a potential crisis in the Security Council.

Under the deal, if any of the participating members notifies the Council that Iran has violated the provisions of the agreement, sanctions will be reinstated after a 30-day process.

If the Security Council continues to not acknowledge the U.S. move, and if no member of the nuclear deal puts forward a draft resolution for extending sanctions relief, the snapback process will not go forward.

Abarry added that other members of the Council could put forward a draft resolution for extending sanctions relief for Iran, although as chairman, he was not planning on taking any action.

In the absence of other countries' support, the U.S. can propose a resolution to extend sanctions on Iran, and then veto its own resolution, therefore allowing the sanctions to remain.

The Dominican Republic, which voted in favor of an earlier U.S. move to extend the Iran arms embargo due to expire this month, has not yet stated its stance on the U.S.' invocation of the snapback mechanism. The remaining 13 members of the Council all abstained from the vote.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a tweet that “if no resolution is introduced, the sanctions on Iran will still return on September 20."

The other veto-wielding members of the Security Council have now all lined up against the United States, saying that the U.S.' withdrawal from the 2015 agreement in May 2018 invalidates the country's move to invoke the snapback provision of the JCPOA.

On Tuesday, after a meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, European Union representative Helga Schmid, who chaired the meeting, tweeted that all participants were "united in resolve to preserve the Iran deal" and "find a way to ensure full implementation of the agreement despite current challenges."

Iranian officials have not yet made any comments about the outcome of Tuesday's meeting, but ahead of the meeting, Iran's representative, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, said the U.S.' move towards the snapback mechanism would "definitely be an important discussion topic" in the Joint Commission talks.