Washington isolated as global allies and adversaries say its unilateral move targeting Tehran has no legal standing.
Iran has promised to inflict a “decisive response” against the United States for acting like a bully to adversaries and allies alike after Washington said it would reimpose UN sanctions – without United Nations’ approval.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation in a live televised cabinet meeting on Sunday, congratulating world powers for resisting US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions, saying the effort “has reached its definitive point of failure”.
Today, he said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy”.
Pointing out how the US tried to garner the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the US expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition against Tehran.
“Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”
The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Tehran will also fully implement its commitments.
Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its commitments, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The US broke with all other permanent members of the UN over the sanctions move, which the international community, including Washington’s close allies the United Kingdom, France and Germany, said had no legal basis.
The American decision sets the stage for an ugly showdown at the world body in advance of its annual General Assembly this week.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said European leaders “haven’t lifted a finger” to halt arms sales to Iran.
He told Fox News “arms sales, tanks, air defence systems, all of those, in a couple of weeks, would have been permitted to have been sold. And the Europeans have not joined us in this”.
In a statement following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Pompeo threatened “consequences” for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures, which were lifted under the landmark nuclear deal signed between six world powers and Iran in 2015 but was abandoned by the US more than two years ago.
.@SecPompeo: In accordance with our rights under resolution 2231, the United States initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously lifted UN sanctions, including the embargo. The world will be safer as a result. https://t.co/Yg8SC0mp9j
— Department of State (@StateDept) September 20, 2020
Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a “participant” and could trigger the so-called “snapback”.
The White House plans to issue an executive order on Monday spelling out how the US will enforce the restored sanctions, and the State and Treasury departments are expected to outline how foreign individuals and businesses will be penalised for violations.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an unnamed US official told Reuters news agency Washington will sanction more than two dozen people and entities involved in Iran’s nuclear, missile and conventional arms programme.
Economic pressure from Washington on Tehran pushed the local currency down to its lowest level ever on Sunday. Iran’s currency dropped to 272,500 to the US dollar at money exchange shops across the capital.
The rial has lost more than 30 percent of its value to the dollar since June as sweeping US sanctions on Iran continue to crush its ability to sell oil globally. Iran’s currency was at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.