US declares sanctions on Iran are re-imposed, Iran rejects move

(Update 1: Adds Iran’s reaction)

Washington DC/Tehran Sep 20 (efe-epa).- The United States has unilaterally declared that all international sanctions against Iran would be reinstated and said that it will take measures while issuing a warning to those United Nations members that oppose it.

“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and anti-Semitism,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday.

Pompeo said that the US had initiated a procedure before the UN in August to restore all international sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement – from which Washington withdrew in 2018 – arguing that Tehran has failed to fulfill its commitments.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the US move, saying in a statement that the reinstatement of UN Security Council sanctions is “groundless and invalid and lacks any legal effect.”

“The approach adopted by the current US regime amounts to a big danger to international peace and security as well as an unprecedented threat to the UN and the Security Council,” added the statement.

Iran responded on Sunday, vowing there would be a serious reaction as well as dangerous consequences if the US were to act on those threats.

Most Security Council members – including the other countries with veto powers – believe that the US has no right to use this mechanism, as it abandoned the pact in 2018.

The Security Council has therefore not taken any steps, which the US Government has interpreted as meaning the sanctions were automatically re-imposed on Saturday, when the one-month deadline set out in that procedure is met.

Pompeo said on Saturday that the US notification to the UN in August “triggered the 30-day process leading to the snapback of previously terminated UN sanctions, which became effective at 8pm Eastern Daylight Time on Sep. 19.”

The secretary of state added that the US took “this decisive action” not only because it believes Tehran has not fulfilled its obligations under the nuclear pact, but also because “the Security Council failed to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which had been in place for 13 years.”

“The Security Council’s inaction would have paved the way for Iran to buy all manner of conventional weapons on October 18,” Pompeo stressed. “Fortunately for the world, the United States took responsible action to stop this from happening.”

As a result, the US has “initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions, including the arms embargo,” he added.

Over the next few days Washington will announce a “a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable,” according to Pompeo.

He also issued a warning to countries that oppose this step saying “the United States expects all UN Member States to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures.”

“In addition to the arms embargo, this includes restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in enrichment and reprocessing-related activities, the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development by Iran, and sanctions on the transfer of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to Iran, among others,” he added.

Pompeo warned that if the UN members “fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity.”

On Friday, France, Germany and the United Kingdom said that, in their view, international sanctions against Iran would remain suspended beyond Saturday.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, those three permanent members of the Security Council said that the process initiated by the US has no legal basis and nor would any action taken based on that.

This matter is expected to be one of the topics of interest at the online meeting of the UN General Assembly that will be held next week. EFE-EPA

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