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UN Security Council President Rejects US Demand To Restore Iran Sanctions

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4thR) speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on August 20, 2019 at the United Nations in New York. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (4thR) speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on August 20, 2019 at the United Nations in New York. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)

The president of the UN Security Council (UNSC) has rejected Washington's demand to snap back international sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Responding to Russia and China's questions on the issue, Indonesia’s UN ambassador who holds the council's rotating presidency this month announced the rejection Tuesday, August 25.

"It is clear to me that there is one member who has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views," Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani said during a virtual Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

"In my view, there is no consensus in the council," he said, adding, "Thus, the president is not in the position to take further action."

Firing back, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Kelly Craft, blasted Djani for the decision.

"Let me just make it really, really clear. The Trump administration has no fear in standing in a limited company on this matter, in light of the unmistakable truth guiding our actions," she said in a speech during the UNSC meeting. "I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists," Ms. Kraft asserted.

Accusing the Security Council of lacking "courage and moral clarity," Ms. Craft emphasized that the United States "will not abandon the people of Iran or the region."

Meanwhile, she insisted, "We will never allow Iran, the world's number one sponsor of terrorism, to buy and sell weapons of war freely."

Based on a UN Resolution linked to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the international arms embargo against the Islamic Republic will expire on October 18.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York last week to formally notify the United Nations that Washington was initiating the snapback process to reimpose all U.N. sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the JCPOA deal.

Earlier, the Security Council resoundingly had rejected a U.S. resolution to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is expiring on October 18. Restoring the pre-JCPOA sanctions would extend the arms embargo.

Nonetheless, Washington has argued that it is still a party to the nuclear deal defined by a Security Council resolution that backed the JCPOA, even though President Trump withdrew from it on May 8, 2018.

For their part, the other permanent members of the UNSC and parties to the nuclear deal, Britain, China, France, and Russia, along with Germany, have begged to differ.

Since Washington has dropped the nuclear deal, it cannot demand applying the JCPOA's "trigger mechanism," or snapback, and reimpose the international sanctions on Tehran, the other powers argue.

At the same time, despite Tuesday's announcement, the U.S. mission to the U.N. reiterated that the United States is "is on the firm legal ground to initiate the restoration of sanctions."

"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 U.S. mission said in a statement Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the UNSC could revisit the issue next month when Niger takes over the presidency. But Niger has also expressed its opposition, dismissing the U.S. move as illegal.