Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Trump moves to restore UN Iran sanctions

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference to announce the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions on Iran yesterday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference to announce the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions on Iran yesterday.


The United States slapped additional sanctions on Iran on Monday after the Trump administration’s disputed unilateral weekend declaration that all United Nations penalties eased under the 2015 nuclear deal had been restored.

The announcement came in defiance of nearly all UN members, including US allies in Europe, who have rejected US legal standing to impose the international sanctions. It set the stage for an ugly showdown at the annual UN General Assembly this week and also came as President Donald Trump seeks to portray himself as a champion for Middle East stability ahead of November’s presidential election.

In addition to his actions against Iran, Trump just last week witnessed the signing of agreements normalising relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, both of which reflect increased regional concerns about Iran. Similar US-brokered deals between Israel and Arab states are expected in the coming days and weeks.

“The United States has now restored UN sanctions on Iran,” Trump said in a statement issued shortly after he signed an executive order spelling out how the US will enforce the “snapback” of the sanctions. “My actions today send a clear message to the Iranian regime and those in the international community who refuse to stand up to Iran”.

The sanctions include freezes on any assets those targeted may have in US jurisdictions, bar Americans from doing business with them, and, perhaps most importantly, open up foreign governments, companies and individuals to US penalties if they engage in transactions with them.

Speaking to reporters with fellow Cabinet secretaries at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the administration was hitting more than two dozen Iranian individuals and institutions with penalties. “No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran you risk sanctions,” he said.


However, nearly all of the targets identified on Monday – including the Iranian defence ministry, its procurement arm, Iran’s atomic energy agency, several Iranian scientists and Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro – were already subject to US sanctions that the administration had reimposed after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.

Trump’s executive order mainly affects Iranian and foreign entities involved in conventional weapons and ballistic missile activity. A UN arms embargo on Iran is to expire in October under the terms of the nuclear deal, but Pompeo and others insist the snapback has rescinded its termination.

Accompanied by Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft and national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Pompeo said the US was not acting alone but on behalf of the rest of the world, which is refusing to confront the Iranian threat.

“The country that’s isolated today is not the United States but, rather, Iran,” Pompeo said. “By these actions we have made very clear that every member state in the United Nations has a responsibility to enforce these sanctions. That certainly includes the United Kingdom, France and Germany. We will have every expectation that those nations enforce these sanctions.”