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UN Security Council rejects US demand to restore sanctions on Iran

Security Council president says it is 'not in the position' to take action on Washington's latest bid to 'snapback' sanctions against Tehran
13 council members viewed Washington's move as void given it left the 2015 nuclear deal two years ago (AFP/File photo)

The president of the UN Security Council rejected the Trump administration's demand to restore all UN sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, a move that drew an angry rebuke from the US ambassador who accused opponents of supporting "terrorists".

Indonesia's UN Ambassador, Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country is presiding over the Security Council this month, said the council was "not in the position to take further action" in response to a question from Russia and China during a meeting on the Middle East.

'The Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter'

- Kelly Craft, US ambassador to the UN

The move drew an angry rebuke from Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, who accused the opposing countries of supporting "terrorists".

"Let me just make it really, really clear: the Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter," Craft said.

"I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists."

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It was not immediately clear whether the assessment by Indonesia would end the US push to reimpose all international sanctions on Iran.

Niger is scheduled to take over the Security Council's presidency in September but its ambassador has already sent a letter to the world body calling the US action "illegal", so it is likely to ignore the US demand as well.

'There is no snapback'

Russia's UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said he hoped the US would now drop its bid for snapback Iran sanctions, "which is not only illegal, but simply will not lead to achieving the result that was envisaged by the United States".

Nebenzia's deputy, Dmitry Polyanskiy, summed up the Indonesian assessment in a Twitter post: "It means, there is NO SNAPBACK."

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Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had formally notified the UN that it wants all sanctions on Iran restored, claiming significant Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers that was endorsed by the Security Council.

Pompeo said the US had the legal right to "snap back" UN sanctions within 30 days, even though Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.

However, on Friday, 13 UNSC members expressed their opposition to the US move, arguing the move is void since the Trump administration had already quit the deal.

But the US argued it can still trigger the "snapback" process because a 2015 UNSC resolution that enshrined the deal names Washington as a participant.

On August 14, the UNSC resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October.

Iran calls US to return to nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed the announcement on Twitter, saying Pompeo's "lawless bullying leaves US isolated again".

"While US prevented a Sec. Council debate about its unlawful notification on Friday, members in today's meeting on ME refuted US' attempt as null and void. Time for @realDonaldTrump to stop listening to novice bullies."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier on Tuesday that Tehran could reach an agreement with Washington if the US "apologises" and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian state TV reported.

"The US maximum pressure policy against Iran has been defeated," Rouhani told reporters.

"Efforts to change the Iranian regime by taking the people to the streets also failed. They found that these methods didn't work."

Rouhani added that he expects the next US administration to change Washington's policy on Iran after the election.

Trump told supporters on Sunday that if re-elected, he would reach an agreement with Iran within four weeks.

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