The United States was further isolated on Friday over its bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran, with 13 countries on the 15-member United Nations Security Council expressing their opposition and arguing that Washington’s move is void given it is using a process agreed under a nuclear deal that it quit two years ago.
In the 24 hours since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day countdown to a return of UN sanctions on Iran – including an arms embargo – long-time allies the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Belgium as well as China, Russia, Vietnam, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Indonesia, Estonia and Tunisia have already written letters in opposition, Reuters news agency reported.
The US has accused Iran of breaching a 2015 deal with world powers that aimed to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. But US President Donald Trump described it as the “worst deal ever” and quit in 2018.
Diplomats said Russia, China and many other countries are unlikely to reimpose the sanctions on Iran. Pompeo again warned Russia and China against that on Friday, threatening US action if they refuse to reimpose the UN measures on Iran.
The Trump administration on Friday dismissed the near universal opposition to its demand and declared that a 30-day countdown for the “snapback” of penalties had begun.
“We don’t need anyone’s permission,” US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook told reporters in a briefing on Friday. “Iran is in violation of its voluntary nuclear commitments. The condition has been met to initiate snapback. And so we have now started to initiate snapback.”
He said that “whether people support or oppose what we’re doing is not material,” adding that “today is day one of the 30-day process.”
The US acted on Thursday after the Security Council resoundingly rejected its bid last week to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October. Only the Dominican Republic joined Washington in voting yes.
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi immediately rejected the US move, which he said was “doomed to failure”.
The Dominican Republic has not yet written to the council to state its position on the sanctions snapback push.
Under the process Washington says it has triggered, it appears all UN sanctions should be reimposed at midnight or 00:00 GMT (8pm New York time) on September 19 – just days before Trump is due to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly, the annual meeting that will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic.