US envoy threatens to hit Iran with return to crippling UN sanctions as tensions rise

US envoy threatens to hit Iran with return to crippling UN sanctions as tensions rise
3 min read
The US has said it is ready to bring back the crippling arms embargo against Iran as tensions simmer between the two countries.
US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook [Getty]

The US Special Envoy for Iran has threatened to trigger a return to all of the United States sanctions on Iran if the UN Security Council does not extend an arms embargo on Tehran that is due to expire in October under the Iran nuclear deal.

This comes as relations between Washington and Tehran remain icy following continued sanctions while Iran suffers under the weight of the novel coronavirus.

Brian Hook, US Special envoy for Iran, confirmed the strategy two weeks after a US official told Reuters that the US had informed Britain, France and Germany of its plan.

Hook wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “one way or another” the US will make sure the arms embargo remains.

He went on to say that Washington drafted a Security Council resolution and “will press ahead with diplomacy and build support”.

“If American diplomacy is frustrated by a veto, however, the US retains the right to renew the arms embargo by other means,” he wrote.

By “other means” Hook refers to the ability of a party to the Iran nuclear deal to trigger a snapback of all UN sanctions on Iran.

This includes, of course, the arms embargo.

It is a tricky move however, given that President Donald Trump took the US out of the accord back in 2018. The nuclear accord had been painstakingly brokered by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The only way Trump can manoevre his intentions to bring back the arms embargo is because of a Security Council resolution in 2015 that still names the US as a participant to the deal.

“This is ridiculous,” Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Tuesday.

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“They are not members, they have no right to trigger.”

Tensions rising

The latest in a string of tit-for-tat statements between the two countries, the US response comes after it accused Iran of defying the UN resolution endorsing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with a satellite launch last month and also argued it is continuing to violate a UN arms embargo.

The US Mission to the United Nations made the allegations at an informal meeting of experts from the Security Council committee that monitors implementation of the resolution on Wednesday.

Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers in 2018 and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

The meeting that the United States called Wednesday appeared to be another step in its campaign to pressure Iran to stop interfering in the region and halt what the Trump and Israel believe is its pursuit of nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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