US prepares controversial Iran sanctions 'snapback'

US prepares controversial Iran sanctions 'snapback'
Diplomats at the UN have revealed the United States will trigger the so-called "snapback" sanctions on Iran on Thursday, reports said.
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Trump's 'snapback' will have huge repercussions for the Iran nuclear deal [Getty]
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to activate a controversial mechanism aimed at reimposing UN sanctions on Iran during a visit to New York on Thursday, diplomats said.

The United States has not confirmed when it will trigger the so-called "snapback" but diplomats at the UN told AFP they have been informed it will happen on Thursday.

Pompeo is scheduled to meet UN chief Antonio Guterres at Guterres's residence in New York around 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) that day, a spokesman for the secretary-general told reporters Wednesday.

America's top diplomat earlier said he would "soon" issue the procedure, which European allies oppose, threatening a crisis at the UN Security Council. Pompeo declined to confirm a specific date.

"Snapback," which President Donald Trump has said will be triggered this week, will have huge repercussions for the Iran nuclear deal.

It aims to restore all international sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 accord with Tehran that sought to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018 and introduced American sanctions on Iran as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian regime.

Despite pulling out of the deal, America claims that as a "participant" of the original agreement it has the power to unilaterally reimpose UN sanctions on Iran.

A 2015 UN Security Council resolution ratifying the agreement negotiated by former president Barack Obama says participating states can unilaterally reinstall sanctions if Iran has failed to significantly comply with the accord. 

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The "snapback" procedure, which has never been used before, is supposed to lead to the re-establishment of sanctions after 30 days, without the possibility of Russia or China wielding their vetoes.

European countries on the Security Council contest the US's legal argument and fear that the return of sanctions will torpedo the nuclear deal, which they are battling to save. 

"This will be fully valid enforceable UN Security Council resolution. We have every expectation that it will be enforced just like every other UN Security Council resolution that is in place," Pompeo said.

Last week, the UN Security Council overwhelmingly rejected a US resolution to extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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