WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Russia and China not to disregard the reimposition of all United Nations sanctions on Iran, which President Donald Trump has directed him to trigger at the U.N. Security Council in New York on Thursday.
Pompeo will meet with Indonesia’s U.N. Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani – council president for August – to submit a complaint about Iran’s non-compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, even though Washington quit the accord in 2018.
The nuclear deal between Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States aimed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. That accord is enshrined in a 2015 Security Council resolution.
In response to what the United States calls its “maximum pressure” campaign of unilateral sanctions – a bid to get Iran to negotiate a new deal – Tehran has breached central limits of the 2015 pact, including on its stock of enriched uranium.
Diplomats say the so-called sanctions snapback process will be messy as Russia, China and other countries question the legality of the U.S. move given that Washington itself is no longer complying with what Trump called the “worst deal ever.”
Given questions over the U.S. move, diplomats said Russia, China and other countries are likely to simply ignore it and not reimpose the sanctions on Iran.
When asked if the United States would target Russia and China with sanctions if they refuse to reimpose the U.N. measures on Iran, Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday: “Absolutely.”
“We have already done that, where we have seen any country violate … the current American sanctions, we’ve held every nation accountable for that. We’ll do the same thing with respect to the broader U.N. Security Council sanctions as well,” he said.
The United States had threatened to use the sanctions snapback provision in the nuclear deal after it lost a bid in the Security Council on Friday to extend an arms embargo on Tehran, which is due to expire in October.
Pompeo said it was unfortunate that the European members of the council abstained on the U.S. attempt to extend the arms embargo and that the move “makes the European people less safe.”
“They just are wedded to this crazy nuclear deal, they’re trying to hang on to it,” he said.
Once Pompeo submits the complaint about Iran to the Security Council, the body has 30 days to adopt a resolution to extend sanctions relief for Tehran or else the measures will automatically snap back. Any attempt to extend the sanctions relief would be vetoed by the United States.
Pompeo will also meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Eric Beech; Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)