‘SNAP BACK’ FUSS: The US secretary of state said that Washington has the ability to put sanctions back in place, but Russia’s envoy said the US had no right to do so
AP, UNITED NATIONS
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday threatened to seek to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran if the UN Security Council does not approve a resolution that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Tehran, which is set to expire in October.
Pompeo told a news conference at the US Department of State in Washington that without extending the arms embargo, “Iran will be able to purchase advanced weapons systems and become an arms dealer of choice for terrorists and rogue regimes all throughout the world. This is unacceptable.”
He spoke ahead of a closed video briefing to Security Council members on a US draft resolution to maintain the arms embargo by US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft.
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since Washington in 2018 withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers and reimposed US sanctions.
A year ago, the US sent thousands more troops, long-range bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in response to what it called a growing threat of Iranian attacks on US interests in the region.
The five other powers that signed the nuclear deal — Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany — remain committed to it, saying that the agreement is key to continuing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and preventing Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.
Lifting the arms embargo is part of the 2015 Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear agreement. The council is scheduled to discuss the resolution’s implementation on Tuesday next week.
“But, in the event that doesn’t happen, I would remind the world that the [former US president Barack] Obama administration’s officials said very clearly that the United States has the unilateral ability to snap back sanctions into place,” he said.
The 2015 nuclear deal includes a “snap back” provision that would restore all UN sanctions against Iran that had been lifted or eased if the nuclear deal is violated.
The State Department said that in his briefing, Hook pointed to Iranian arms transfers and “the full range of Iran’s malign activity, including its September 2019 direct attack on Saudi Arabia,” which violate current restrictions.
Drone strikes hit two Saudi Arabian oil installations on Sept. 14, which the US blamed on Iran.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that Moscow opposes a new arms embargo and has dismissed as “ridiculous” the possibility of Washington using the “snap back” provision.
Nebenzia said that the US pulled out of the agreement and “they have no right” to its provisions.
However, Pompeo and Craft said the resolution makes it clear that the US retains to right to use the “snap back” provision.