By Javad Heirannia

Ex-WH official: It looks strange that U.S. can argue it is JCPOA party 

May 2, 2020 - 13:43

TEHRAN – Professor Frank N. von Hippel, former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, tells the Tehran Times that “it looks strange to me that the U.S. can cite the fact that it was a party to the JCPOA as a basis for this initiative.”

The comments by von Hippel comes as Mike Pompeo is arguing that the U.S. is a participant to the JCPOA and presented a draft resolution to some UN Security Council members to extend arms embargo against Iran which ends in October based on the JCPOA. 

Following is the text of the interview with von Hippel:

Q: The U.S. is working to extend the issue of Iran's arms sanction on Iran in the UN Security Council. Given that the U.S. has violated and withdrawn from the JCPOA, can it legally make such a request?

“As I understand the argument, the Trump Administration does not want Iran to buy conventional weapons.” A: I am not a lawyer but it looks strange to me that the U.S. can cite the fact that it was a party to the JCPOA as a basis for this initiative. However, the U.S. is a member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the JCPOA-related resolution that is due to expire this year is a UNSC resolution.  If a new resolution is required to extend the arms embargo, then Russia or China could veto it.  Apparently, the Trump administration is trying to use a part of the JCPOA under which any party could trigger a snapback of the sanctions. 

Q: The U.S., despite withdrawing from the JCPOA, is set to establish itself as a participant in the JCPOA. Why?
A: As I understand the argument, the Trump administration does not want Iran to buy conventional weapons.  The rationale is that Iran would use these weapons to try to expand its area of influence in conflict areas in the Middle East, presumably including Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

Q: Do European countries want to activate the trigger mechanism and take Iran's case to the UN Security Council?

A: This is the key question. I suppose that France, Germany, or the UK, which are still members of the JCPOA, could do so.  They probably are not enthusiastic about Iran buying weapons but, at the same time, they would know that invoking the snapback provision would destroy their hopes to revive the JCPOA if we have a new U.S. President next January.

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