US rescinds 'snapback' of sanctions on Iran

US tells Security Council it is rescinding Trump administration move to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran.

Elad Benari ,

UN Security Council
UN Security Council
UN photo

The United States on Thursday told the United Nations Security Council it was rescinding a Trump administration assertion that all UN sanctions had been reimposed on Iran in September, Reuters reported, citing a letter sent by acting US Ambassador Richard Mills.

This past August, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he had triggered a 30-day process at the Security Council that led to the return of UN sanctions on Iran and stopped an arms embargo on Tehran from expiring on October 18.

The Trump administration’s move to activate the so-called “snapback” came after the UN Security Council rejected the US resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

13 of the 15 Security Council members said Washington’s move was void because Pompeo used a mechanism agreed under the 2015 nuclear deal that the Trump administration had abandoned in May of 2018.

The Trump administration argued it had triggered the “snapback” because a UN resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear pact still named the United States as a participant.

Thursday’s move is the latest indication that the Biden administration intends to negotiate with Iran on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal. Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his counterparts from France, Germany and the UK (known as the E3) that the US is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement on returning to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The State Department later said the US would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of the participants in the original agreement.

Biden has expressed a desire to return to the 2015 agreement but has stressed he would return to the 2015 agreement if Iran returned to compliance with it.

Iran has repeatedly made clear that it will not renegotiate the original agreement. Biden, for his part, has stressed that the US will not lift its sanctions on Tehran until Iran freezes its uranium enrichment.