21 Sep 2020
Over the strenuous objections of its closest allies, the Trump administration reimposed United Nations sanctions against Iran on Saturday, though the weight of their repercussions is unclear without the cooperation of the world’s other major powers.
In an evening statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the “return of virtually all previously terminated U.N. sanctions” and, in effect, declared a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran as no longer in force.
“The world will be safer as a result,” Mr. Pompeo said.
He also warned that the United States “is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences” for other countries that do not enforce the sanctions. He did not elaborate.
Minutes after Mr. Pompeo’s statement, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said the sanctions were “null and void.”
“US’ illegal & false ‘deadline’ has come and gone.” Mr. Ravanchi wrote on Twitter. He warned that the United States’ “swimming against int’l currents will only bring it more isolation.”
Just a day earlier, Britain, France and Germany said in a letter that the sanctions — which the United Nations had suspended after the signing of a 2015 nuclear accord — would have no legal effect.
To underscore their fundamental opposition, the letter said all three countries would work to preserve the 2015 agreement, which they jointly negotiated with the United States, China and Russia, even as Washington sought to destroy its last remnants. The Trump administration withdrew from the agreement more than two years ago.
“We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” said the letter, a copy of which was viewed by The New York Times.
For Mr. Trump, the penalties have both a political and international calculus. He ran in 2016 declaring that the Iran deal was a “terrible” giveaway to the country’s leadership, and Saturday’s move will enable him to enter the last stretch of the 2020 election declaring that he had destroyed it, and punished the Iranian economy by resuming sanctions that existed before the Obama administration negotiated the deal.
And should former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. win in November, the resumption of sanctions will make it more complicated to reassemble some version of the agreement. Mr. Biden would have to reverse the move, making it appear he had made a concession to Iran even as it has resumed work on its nuclear program in reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the deal.
By Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger, The New York Times, 19 September 2020
Read more at The New York Times
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