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​Iran's Zarif dismisses US threat to reimpose UN sanctions as 'foolish'

Iran foreign minister ridicules US officials who 'muse about injecting disinfectant'
Washington has vowed to use 'all legally available options' to extend arms embargo against Iran (AFP/File photo)

Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed "foolish" claims by the US that it can reimpose UN sanctions on Tehran if the Security Council does not extend an arms embargo later this year.

The US said last week that it was "hopeful" the Security Council would extend the embargo before it expires in October, despite opposition from Russia and China.

The UN imposed a ban on the export of most major conventional weapons to Iran in 2007, but when the Iran nuclear deal went into effect in 2015, a five-year sunset clause was inserted into the agreement, allowing key restrictions to be lifted from October.

Despite the US abandoning the Iran nuclear deal - known formally as the JCPOA - in May 2018, Washington has since argued that it can trigger a return of UN sanctions because a 2015 Security Council resolution enshrining the deal still includes it as a participant.

US officials have said that they are preparing a UN Security Council resolution to extend the embargo. If the measure is blocked by Russia or China, Washington aims to use a provision within the nuclear accord that it abandoned to snap back the sanctions.

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Zarif dismissed Washington's plans as "foolish" on Thursday and later took to Twitter to mock US President Donald Trump's suggestion that infected coronavirus patients should consume disinfectants to rid themselves of the disease.

"Those who muse about injecting disinfectant to 'clean' the coronavirus, also argue that they are a 'participant' in a UN Security Council resolution endorsing a deal that they long ago 'ceased participating' in. Their own words. If only Kafka were around," Zarif wrote.

The Iranian diplomat was referring to the Czech author Franz Kafka, who wrote stories about scenarios defying logic.

Since the United States left the Iran nuclear deal in no ambiguous terms, Washington has piled sanctions on various Iranian industries and individuals, including on Zarif.

On Wednesday, Washington's envoy for Iran Brian Hook said the US was willing to use "all legally available options" to "snap back" sanctions and had drafted a Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo.

"Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) lifted most UN sanctions but also created a legal mechanism for exclusive use by certain nations to snap sanctions back. The arms embargo is one of these sanctions," Hook wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.