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US News Anti-Iran sanctions: standoff at the UN between Washington and the rest of the world

23:15  19 september  2020
23:15  19 september  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

Iran. Washington defies the rest of the world by proclaiming the return of UN sanctions

 Iran. Washington defies the rest of the world by proclaiming the return of UN sanctions © MIKE SEGAR / POOL / AFP "If UN member states do not fulfill their obligations to apply these sanctions, the United States is ready to use their tools to punish these failures, ”said Mike Pompéo. Washington has unilaterally proclaimed that the United Nations sanctions against Iran are back in force, since 8 p.m. Saturday, and has promised to punish those who violate them.

  Sanctions anti-Iran: bras de fer à l'ONU entre Washington et le reste du monde © Provided by Le Point

The United States will unilaterally claim this weekend that the United Nations sanctions against the Iran are again in force, a gesture that risks increasing their isolation but also international tensions.

"All UN sanctions against Iran will be in effect again this weekend, at 8:00 p.m. Saturday," that is, at 00:00 GMT on Sunday, said US envoy Elliott Abrams .

But there you have it, Washington is almost alone and against everyone: the other great powers, Russia , China, but also the European allies of the Americans, dispute this assertion.

How did we come to this spectacular face-to-face between the world's leading power and the rest of the planet? To understand it, we have to go back a month.

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In mid-August, Donald Trump's US government suffered a resounding setback at the UN Security Council in its attempt to extend the embargo on conventional arms targeting Tehran, which expires in October.

Accusing in an attack of rare violence France, the United Kingdom and Germany of having "chosen to align with the ayatollahs" in power in the Islamic Republic, the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo triggers on August 20 a controversial procedure, nicknamed "snapback" and supposed to restore all UN sanctions against Iran a month later.

These sanctions were lifted in 2015, when Tehran had committed, in an international agreement, not to acquire nuclear weapons.

Legal pirouette

However, President Trump, deeming this text negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama insufficient, withdrew from it in 2018 the United States, which in the process restored or even tightened its own bilateral sanctions.

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Now, in a legal twist, the United States is invoking its status as a country "participating" in this agreement which they have left with a bang, with the sole aim of activating the "snapback".

Washington's ability to avail itself of this status is contested by almost all of the other member countries of the Security Council, which has therefore not followed up on its approach.

But the dialogue of the deaf continues: the Trump administration intends to act as if international sanctions are back, while the other powers intend to act as if nothing had happened.

So, is this a symbolic gesture to remind us of the American hard line against Tehran or should we expect more concrete measures?

"Nothing is going to happen," predicts a diplomat at the UN. "It's like when you pull the trigger and the bullet doesn't go."

Trump's "Surprise"?

Another deplores a "unilateral" act: "Russia and China observe satisfied, while eating popcorn, the Europeans and the Americans are divided".

Russia: Europe calls for severe sanctions after the poisoning of Alexeï Navalny

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However, American diplomacy insists that the arms embargo will be extended "indefinitely" and that many activities related to Tehran's nuclear and ballistic programs will henceforth be punishable at the international level.

And that the United States will "do everything necessary to ensure that these sanctions are applied and respected".

"We are going to prevent Iran from acquiring Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems", Mike Pompeo warned. "We expect every nation to comply with Security Council resolutions."

This is where this issue risks creating new tensions.

Because Donald Trump could announce so-called secondary sanctions to punish any country or entity that violates UN sanctions, by blocking their access to the market and the American financial system, even though he will be one of the only leaders worldwide to be deemed to be in effect.

"Any decision or measure taken with the intention of reinstating" the sanctions "will have no legal effect", reply in advance France, the United Kingdom and Germany in a joint letter addressed to the Presidency of the Council on Friday. security and of which AFP has obtained a copy.

Six weeks from running for a second term, the US president might also want to "surprise" during his speech Tuesday at the UN General Assembly "by announcing a financial punishment" against the planetary institution to mark "his dissatisfaction," fears Richard Gowan of the conflict prevention organization International Crisis Group.

19/09/2020 19:40:11 - Washington (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

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