19 Feb 2021 08:00AM
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with army’s air force and air defense staff in Tehran, Iran on Sunday, Feb 7, 2021. Iran’s supreme leader said the US. must lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to return to its commitments to the nuclear deal with Western powers. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
(Updated: 19 Feb 2021 08:04AM)
UNITED NATIONS: The Biden administration on Thursday (Feb 18) rescinded former president Donald Trump’s restoration of UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that could help Washington move toward rejoining the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at reining in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Acting US Ambassador Richard Mills sent a letter to the UN Security Council on behalf of President Joe Biden, saying the US “hereby withdraws” three letters from the Trump administration culminating in its Sep 19 announcement that the US had re-imposed UN sanctions on Tehran.
Mills said in the letter obtained by The Associated Press that sanctions measures terminated in the 2015 council resolution endorsing the nuclear deal with six major powers, but restored by Trump in September, “remain terminated”.
Trump pulled the US out of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in 2018, accusing Iran of serious violations.
Biden has said the US wants to rejoin the pact and the State Department said on Thursday the US would accept an invitation from the EU to attend a meeting of the participants in the original agreement – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran.
The Trump administration’s decision to invoke a provision in the 2015 council resolution allowing the “snapback” of sanctions because Iran was in “significant non-performance” with its obligations under the accord was ignored by the rest of the Security Council and the world.
The overwhelming majority of members in the 15-nation council called Trump’s action illegal, because the US was no longer a member of the JCPOA.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN would not support re-imposing sanctions on Iran as the US was demanding until he got a green light from the Security Council. He said there was “uncertainty” on whether or not former secretary of state Mike Pompeo had triggered the “snapback” mechanism.