The United States was further isolated on 21 August 2020 over its bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran with 13 countries on the 15-member U.N. Security Council (UNSC) expressing their opposition, arguing that Washington’s move is void given it is using a process agreed under a nuclear deal that it quit two years ago. In the 24 hours since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day countdown to a return of U.N. sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo, long-time allies Britain, France, Germany and Belgium as well as China, Russia, Vietnam, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Indonesia, Estonia and Tunisia have already written letters in opposition.
What
  1. The United States has accused Iran of breaching a 2015 deal with world powers that aimed to stop Tehran developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. But President Donald Trump described it as the “worst deal ever” and quit in 2018.
  2. Russia, China and many other countries are unlikely to reimpose the sanctions on Iran. Pompeo again warned Russia and China against that on 21 August 2020, threatening U.S. action if they refuse to reimpose the U.N. measures on Iran.
  3. The United States acted on 20 August 2020 after the Security Council resoundingly rejected its bid last week to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October. Only the Dominican Republic joined Washington in voting yes.
  4. Under the process Washington says it has triggered, it appears all U.N. sanctions should be reimposed at midnight GMT (8 p.m New York time) on Sept. 19 – just days before Trump is due to address world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, the annual meeting that will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  5. A 2015 Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal states that if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a non-compliance complaint, then the body’s president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.
  6. The United States would be able to veto this, giving it a cleaner argument that sanctions on Iran have to be reimposed.
  7. The United States argues that it can trigger the sanctions snapback process because the 2015 Security Council resolution still names it as a nuclear deal participant.
  8. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres distanced himself from the showdown in the Security Council.