Elliott Abrams says UNSC sanctions on Tehran snapback at 8:00 p.m. Saturday
By OMRI NAHMIAS, TOVAH LAZAROFF, REUTERS
Elliott Abrams, US special envoy on Iran, issued the warning in a briefing with reporters hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would return to the UN to try to reinstate sanctions on Iran next week, despite a lack of support within the UN Security Council.
The Security Council resoundingly rejected a US attempt on Aug. 14 to extend an international arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October, but the United States is pressing ahead with its efforts based on its own legal interpretation.
Last month it triggered a mechanism by which UN Security Council sanctions against Iran would be snapback, to where they were in 2015, when they removed under Resolution 2231 as part of the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“UN sanctions on Iran will come back into place this weekend at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday,” Abrams said.
Pompeo “said just a couple of hours ago that we expect all UN member states to implement the UN sanctions fully and respect the process and obligations to uphold these sanctions. We will have a lot more to say on this in detail on Monday,” Abrams said.
The sanctions, including an arms embargo were removed in exchange for an agreement with Iran that it would halt its nuclear program.
The United States was one of six signatories to the deal, along with Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany. But it withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Security Council members have argued that the US lost the right to unilateral reimpose sanctions when it left the deal. The US has argued that it still has that right as a permanent member of the UNSC.
The US is at a standoff with the UNSC on the matter, because at the end of the day, the Trump administration needs UNSC support to reimpose the sanctions.
Abrams said he believed sanctions will be reinstated.
“The arms embargo will now be reimposed indefinitely and other restrictions will return, including the ban on Iran engaging in enrichment and reprocessing related activities, the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development and sanctions on the transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies to Iran,” Abrams said.
“This is a great moment to reflect on the almost religious commitment of some countries to that nuclear deal. But five years of JCPOA meetings have not moderated Iran’s tactics or choices at all,” Abrams said.
“It is time for peace-loving nations to recognize this reality and join us in imposing sanctions on Iran. It is astonishing that anyone would think or have thought it’s sensible to allow the arms embargo on Iran to expire next month, given that regime’s role in destabilizing Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon and its continuing support for terrorism,” he added.