Iran has urged the international community to defy the United States’ unilateral step to reimpose international sanctions, as the US threatened “consequences” against those opposing its action.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced US “bullying” hours before Washington, DC’s Sunday deadline, which contravenes an earlier United Nations vote against the return of economic and diplomatic penalties on Tehran.
“The Americans as a rule act as a bully and impose sanction … The world community should decide how to act towards bullying,” Zarif told Iranian state television.
Separately, the chief of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps rejected as a “bluff” any possibility of a military conflict with the US.
As this developed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to “impose consequences”, as he insisted that international sanctions against Iran were “back in effect”.
“If UN Member States fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo said on Saturday.
Earlier, sources also told Reuters news agency that despite the UN’s stand, US President Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order allowing him to impose US sanctions on anyone violating an arms embargo against Iran, which is set to expire in October.
The US, however, is isolated on the dispute, with other major powers, especially its European allies, insisting that the sanctions are not back and the US procedure is without legal basis.
Following the US failure last month to extend the arms embargo at the UN Security Council, Pompeo made an unusually strong attack on allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom, accusing them of “siding with Iran’s ayatollahs”.
On August 20, he announced a controversial move known as a “snapback”, which aims to re-establish all sanctions against Iran a month later.
The sanctions were lifted in 2015 when Iran signed on to the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
However, Trump said the landmark accord, negotiated by his predecessor President Barack Obama, was insufficient.
In 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the JCPOA and went on to renew and even strengthen Washington’s bilateral sanctions.
The US is insisting it is still a participant in the agreement that it abandoned, adding that it still can activate the “snapback” option.
Other members of the Security Council dispute Washington’s ability to execute such a move, and the council has not taken the measure any further.
The UK, France and Germany told the UNSC on Friday that UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue beyond September 20.
“We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” the UN envoys for the three countries said in a letter to the council, seen by Reuters news agency.