EU says Washington cannot trigger snapback mechanism

August 17, 2020 - 0:16

TEHRAN – The European Union announced on Sunday that the U.S. is not entitled to force the reimposition of international sanctions on Iran through the snapback mechanism envisioned in the 2015 nuclear deal.

According to a spokeswoman of the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, given that the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and has not participated in any JCPOA structures or activities subsequently, the U.S. cannot be considered as a JCPOA participant. 

“We therefore consider that the U.S. is not in a position to resort to mechanisms reserved for JCPOA participants (such as the so-called snapback),” German news agency DPA quoted the spokeswoman as saying.

The United States stepped up calls for the extension of UN arms embargo on Iran since April, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration threatening that it may seek to trigger a snapback of all sanctions on Iran if attempts to extend the arms embargo fail.

However, the resolution calling for the extension of the embargo failed to attract enough votes at the UN Security Council on Friday, in what President Hassan Rouhani described as a humiliating defeat for the United States.

Following the UN Security Council defeat, Trump vowed to trigger the snapback mechanism to unilaterally reinstate UN sanctions on Tehran.

“We’ll be doing a snapback. You’ll be watching it next week,” he said at a news conference at his New Jersey golf club on Saturday.

Britain, France and Germany, three European countries party to the nuclear deal, have said they would not back U.S. efforts to unilaterally trigger the reimposition of the UN sanctions.

Snapback option not available to non-participants: Biden adviser

The United States is also divided over the triggering of the snapback mechanism.

The Joe Biden campaign's chief foreign policy adviser has said the U.S. cannot push for the restoration of the UN sanctions because it is not a participant in the JCPOA anymore.

“The remedies in the resolution are available to ‘participant’ countries,” Tony Blinken wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “In pulling out of the agreement the WH literally titled its statement ‘Ending US Participation in the JCPOA.’”

“It would have been wise to stick with an agreement that was working and has teeth,” Blinken added.

He made the comment in response to a tweet by Richard Goldberg, an aide to the U.S. National Security Advisor in the Donald Trump administration, who said via Twitter that “a legally independent snapback is in the plain text of UNSCR 2231 as is the US' eligibility to trigger it (with no provision for ever changing that eligibility).”

On Saturday, Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs who led the U.S. negotiating team that concluded the Iran nuclear agreement, said the missile and arms embargo are part of the UN Security Council resolution 2231 but not the JCPOA.

“The JCPOA was endorsed by 2231 but the snap back provision is within the JCPOA itself,” she tweeted.


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