US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused European allies of “siding with the ayatollahs” after he failed to win their support for restoring tough UN sanctions against Iran.
France, Germany and the UK said the US did not have the legal right to trigger “snap back” sanctions because it pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
Pompeo travelled to New York on Thursday to demand that the UN Security Council “snap back” the sanctions on Iran for violating the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
He accused Iran of fomenting terrorism, destabilising the Middle East and trying to hide its nuclear and weapons programme from international inspectors, charges that Tehran vehemently denies.
Lacking ‘courage and conviction’ of US
“No country but the United States has had the courage and conviction to put forward a resolution. Instead, they chose to side with the ayatollahs,” Pompeo said after formally submitting a complaint accusing Iran of non-compliance with the deal.
Other members of the Security Council will have 30 days to adopt a resolution to avert the snap back. The US will be able to exercise its veto power.
Pompeo added that Washington would do everything it could to enforce the sanctions on Iran if they were violated.
The move from the administration of US President Donald Trump comes a week after the Security Council rejected its bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October.
Call to not ‘deepen divisions’
“We call on all UN Security Council members to refrain from any action that would only deepen divisions in the Security Council or that would have serious adverse consequences on its work,” diplomats from the UK, France and Germany wrote in a joint statement issued moments after Pompeo spoke.
They argued that since the US U has left the nuclear agreement, it has no right to act under its provisions. “We cannot therefore support this action,” the European diplomats wrote.
The other parties to the nuclear deal, Russia and China, are also opposed to the US move.
Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and moved to impose US sanctions on Iran that have reduced its oil exports to a trickle as part of Washington’s policy of maximum pressure designed to deny Tehran vital revenues that help its nuclear programme.
Any restoration of the UN sanctions would further compound Tehran’s access to funds from abroad and prevent it from paying for vital goods such as medicine and food.
Iran breaches deal
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only as it had no intention of developing atomic weapons.
Iran abided by the terms of the agreement for another 14 months. Then, under pressure at home as its economy suffered, the Islamic Republic began breaching the deal.
Iran began enriching nuclear fuel beyond the limits of the agreement in January. European officials accused Tehran of violating the deal, setting off a dispute mechanism that is part of the 2015 accord.
Negotiations between Europe and Iran over the issue continue without a deadline for completion. Diplomats say European nations are widely believed to be delaying until after the US presidential election in November with the hope that a new American policy towards Iran would help in finding a peaceful solution over the enrichment programme.