By Payman Yazdani

Recent crisis between Iran, US result of Trump's foreign policy: Zaccara

May 3, 2020 - 11:0

TEHRAN– Pompeo declaration is publicly recognizing that this particular crisis in US-Iran relations was a direct consequence of the US foreign policy towards Iran implemented during Trump's administration.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a legal argument that the United States remains a participant in the Iran nuclear accord that President Trump has renounced, part of an intricate strategy to pressure the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran or see far more stringent sanctions reimposed on the country.

If the arms embargo is not renewed, the United States would exercise its previous right as an original member of the agreement. That step would force a restoration of the wide array of the sanctions that prohibited oil sales and banking arrangements before the adoption of the agreement in 2015. Enforcing those older sanctions would, in theory, be binding on all members of the United Nations.

Mehr News Agency discussed the issue with Dr. Luciano Zaccara, a research assistant professor at Qatar University. 

Here is the full text of his comments:

US President Trump has withdrawn from the JCPOA. From a legal point of view, can he do such a thing?

Depending on the interpretation of the JCPOA, as just a voluntary “Plan of Action” without binding character, which is the one assumed by the Trump administration, the US government had the right to abandon it at any time without any legal consequences. But the interpretation of Iran and other major powers was that despite the fact that the JCPOA was not an “International Treaty” it actually had a binding character since it was supported by a United Nations Security Council resolution. Therefore, abandoning it unilaterally was illegal. However, the abandonment of the deal by the US did not carry any punishment from neither the UNSC nor any other government or institution, and that actually gives the US position more leverage to claims they were right in their interpretation.

Why the US is trying to consider itself as a 'participant" to the JCPOA, while President Trump left the agreement couple of months ago?

The US is trying to revert its position to use any legal advantage to accuse Iran lack of compliance with the deal. However, the Pompeo declaration is publicly recognizing that this particular crisis in US-Iran relations was a direct consequence of the US foreign policy towards Iran implemented during Trump´s administration, therefore, the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA provoked a chain reaction that brought us to the current situation. It is difficult to understand the strategy behind this sudden move, but I cannot expect that the intentions are to come back to the deal but use the legal text of the JCPOA to use it eventually against Iran and convince the other signatory powers.

Even being a participant to the JCPOA, can the US resort to the snapback mechanism of the JCPOA to return Iran sanctions?

There are no legal precedents of such things in the history of the UN-SC sanctions. The JCPOA facilitated some agreements between states, mainly Iran and the US, that were supported by the UNSC and other signatory states, but it is only the UNSC the one able to reinstate the international sanctions against Iran as they did between 2006 and 2015. The US as a permanent member has huge leverage, but it cannot decide on its own and it needs support or at least the abstention of the other permanent members, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. Nowadays, it is still difficult to gather that support.

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