UN Security Council rejects US move to ‘snapback’ Iran sanctions; Trump administration pledges to keep going

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The U.N. Security Council’s president on Tuesday attemped to dismiss a U.S. move to “snapback” all U.N. sanctions on Iran — a denial that led a furious U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft to accuse the Council of “standing in the company of terrorists.”

Dian Triansyah Djani, who as Indonesia’s ambassador holds the rotating presidency for August, said that the Council would not be taking up the U.S. request, after objections from Russia, China and other members.

“Having contacted the members and received letters from many member countries it is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views.”

Because there is no consensus on the council, she would not be taking further action, Djani said.

The U.S. triggered the “snapback” mechanism, which would restore all U.N. sanctions that expired under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, last week. That move came after an effort by the U.S. to extend a soon-to-expire arms embargo on Iran failed at the council after allies on the council abstained.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that in addition to the embargo, snapback would also reimpose sanctions on ballistic missile testing and ongoing nuclear activity, threats he said had been “foolishly downplayed” by the authors of the Obama-era deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, but American officials claim to retain rights as a participant of an accompanying U.N. Security Council resolution, which allows individual participants to trigger the “snapback” process if they decide Iran is not in compliance with the deal. It’s a position that is highly controversial with many council members, who have said the U.S. does not retain those rights since it left the deal.

The French ambassador on Tuesday recalled a statement by France, Germany and the U.K., which said that since the U.S. is not a participant of the deal, the group “[does] not consider that the United States’ notification is effective” and is “incapable of having legal effect.”

“We took note of the converging views expressed clearly by 13 of the 15 members of the Security Council on that matter,” Ambassador Anne Gueguen said. “As a consequence, we firmly believe that no further steps can take place within the Security Council.”

Pompeo informed the president of the U.N. Security Council of the United States’ intention last week, which triggered a 30-day countdown to the re-imposition of almost all sanctions, including the arms embargo. It can be stopped if the council passes a resolution to extend sanctions relief, but that would almost certainly be vetoed by the U.S.

But the Security Council’s president’s move puts that countdown into uncertain territory. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft ripped into the Council’s inaction in response.

“The Trump Administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter, in light of the unmistakable truth guiding our actions,” she said. “I only regret that other members of this Council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”

She also said that groups like Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Maduro regime in Venezuela will benefit.

“Put simply: It is Russia and China that revel in this Council’s dysfunction and failure,” she said. It is Iran that celebrates its newfound leverage over the free nations of the world.”

The U.S. Mission also dismissed the idea that it would have any effect on the American move — a view likely to be challenged by other countries.