Accessibility links

Breaking News

US May Be Prepared To Rethink Stance On Sanctions, Nuclear Accord with Tehran

U.S. -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Trump administration policies on Iran, Iraq and use of force.” on Capitol Hill, in Washington, February 28, 2020
U.S. -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Trump administration policies on Iran, Iraq and use of force.” on Capitol Hill, in Washington, February 28, 2020

Reports in international media on Sunday indicated that the United States is likely to re-think the sanctions on Iran as well as its stance on the nuclear deal with Tehran, which it abandoned in May 2018.

In an April 26 article, the MSN wrote that U.S. "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a legal argument that the United States remains a participant in the Iran nuclear accord that President Trump has renounced."

According to the MSN, the initiative is "part of an intricate strategy to pressure the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran or see far more stringent sanctions re-imposed on the country."

Based on the nuclear accord with Tehran, Iran is entitled to buy or sell weapons after October 2020. However, reporters in Washington say that the Trump Administration officials have been lobbying at the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution that would bar other countries from selling weapons to Iran after October.

Meanwhile, Iranian social media users noted that the snapback mechanism in the nuclear deal JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] gives the right to its signatories to call for restoring UN sanctions if Tehran violates the accord. This is what the U.S. could do if it were still a member of the JCPO after it criticized Iran for launching a military satellite into orbit last week.

An early Monday Fox News report said that in a bid to restore UN sanctions against Tehran, Pompeo was preparing a legal argument to prove that the U.S. is still a "participant" in the Iran nuclear deal.

"This plan would give the U.S. standing at the United Nations Security Council to push to extend the arms embargo on Iran expiring in October and restore sanctions for Iran’s violations of the deal. The State Department has been considering this strategy to restore U.N. sanctions on Iran that were in place for months before the deal came into effect," Fox News Said .

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted Pompeo as having said that the United States " cannot allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to purchase conventional weapons in six months. President Obama should never have agreed to end the U.N. arms embargo,” adding that the United States is prepared "to exercise all of its diplomatic options to ensure the arms embargo stays in place at the U.N. Security Council.”

Except Foreign Minister Zarif, Iranian media and officials have not been observed to react to these reports yet. Reminding what US officials said when leaving the JCPOA, Zarif wrote in a tweet: "Stop dreaming. Iranian nation always decides its destiny."

However, Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Rouhani have always demanded the United States' return to the 2015 nuclear accord before any negotiations between Tehran and Washington on other matters.

A usually well-informed Iran analyst in Scotland, Reza Taghizadeh, opined in a tweet on Monday that "With the pretext of extending the arms embargo against Iran, the United States is thinking of returning to the nuclear accord and making compromise with the Khamenei-Rouhani gang!" He also said that "go-betweens are secretly working" behind the scene.

Another avid observer of Iran-US relations, BBC reporter Bahman Kalbasi, reminded in a tweet that in 2018 when leaving the nuclear accord, the United States said that it was "ceasing participation in the JCPOA."

Nevertheless, there does not seem to be any obstacle that would stop the U.S. from returning to the JCPOA as a "signatory" or as a "participant," although it is not yet clear if Washington's return to the deal would also entail the lifting of sanctions on Tehran. However, considering their welcoming reaction when the U.S. left the deal in 2018, Iran's regional rivals such as Israel and Saudi Arabia may not welcome such a return even if it coincides with Iran's difficult situation in the COVID-19 epidemic.