US allies criticise push to reimpose Iran sanctions

UK, France and Germany say they do not support US efforts to reinstate the sanctions

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo: accused the European countries of choosing “to side with the ayatollahs”. Photograph:  Mike Segar/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo: accused the European countries of choosing “to side with the ayatollahs”. Photograph: Mike Segar/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

 

US allies rebuked Washington over its effort to reimpose international sanctions on Iran on Thursday, exacerbating a rift in the UN Security Council over the international response to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

The UK, France and Germany said they did not support US efforts to reinstate the sanctions that were waived as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal agreed during the Obama administration - from which the US withdrew in 2018.

The US announced on Wednesday that it would reimpose the sanctions on Tehran, with Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, notifying the UN Security Council on Thursday that Washington was restoring the sanctions, which would come back into effect in 30 days. Mr Pompeo accused the European countries of choosing “to side with the ayatollahs”.

The European countries noted that while the US had withdrawn from the deal, they continued to support it “despite the significant challenges posed by US withdrawal” and did not support the US action.

The Trump administration has argued that it had the authority to trigger the reimposition of sanctions even though the US withdrew from the pact, a landmark achievement of former president Barack Obama under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Trump’s “snapback” move came after the US failed to persuade all but one of the 15-member Security Council to agree to extend a five-year UN arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire on October 18th as part of the 2015 nuclear accord.

The administration has expressed concern that China and Russia want to sell sophisticated weapons, including missile defence systems, to Tehran. It blamed European countries on the security council for failing to provide a compromise solution. France, Germany and the UK – signatories to the Iran deal who all sit on the security council this year – have said any unilateral attempt to reimpose sanctions would have “serious adverse consequences”.

On Thursday, the three countries said in a statement that they remained “committed to the processes and institutions which constitute the foundation of multilateralism” and urged members to “refrain from any action that would only deepen the divisions in the security council or that would have serious adverse consequence on its work”.

The Trump administration claims it has the right to trigger the snapback of sanctions under UN Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed the multi-party deal. The US claims it remains a “participant state” in the nuclear deal under the resolution and so can assert “significant non-performance of commitments” by Iran to force snapback within 30 days. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020