Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif blasted the US government’s efforts to reimpose sanctions in a digital speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, calling the US an “irresponsible actor.”
US President Donald Trump’s administration has taken a tough stance on Iran, pulling out of 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.
The deal between Iran and the world powers saw Tehran agree to curb its nuclear program and allow regular international inspections of their nuclear facilities in exchange for the lifting of some international sanctions. It was hailed as a diplomatic achievement, but the United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018.
In his speech on Monday, Zarif said Iran had taken a big step forward in engaging with the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
“We did it with [Former State Secretary John Kerry]. It was not easy to start the negotiations, which resulted in the JCPOA, they were extremely difficult negotiations, based not on mutual trust but on mutual respect. ”
Zarif told the CFR that Iran needed the United States to offer concessions in good faith to “renegotiate what has already been negotiated … And I think after these very difficult years of [US President Donald Trump], it is important that the United States send the right signals to Iran, that it is ready to end this… policy of pressure. ”
Almost simultaneously with Zarif making these comments, Trump announced an executive order blocking access to financial assets for those engaged in the arms trade or training with Tehran, which he said is necessary to enforce the UN arms blockade which will expire in October under the JCPOA.
“The United States has now reinstated UN sanctions against Iran,” Trump said in a statement issued shortly after signing an executive order outlining how the United States will implement the “resumption” of sanctions. “My actions today send a clear message to the Iranian regime and to those in the international community who refuse to stand up to Iran. “
Although the United States, which has reimposed some sanctions on Iran since leaving the JCPOA in 2018, is adamant about a broader reimposition of UN sanctions against Iran, it appears to be alone in its effort.
The US order is intended to apply the JCPOA’s “recovery mechanism”, which resumes sanctions if Iran does not meet its end of the bargain.
But the United States cannot adopt the mechanism, according to the foreign ministries of Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
E3 🇩🇪🇫🇷🇬🇧 notes that the United States ceased to be a participant in the JCPoA after its withdrawal on May 8, 2018. Therefore, the American attempt to initiate the “recovery mechanism” is unable to ‘have legal effect. We remain committed to preserving the nuclear deal. pic.twitter.com/N3LnmwRT5d
– GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) Sept.
Speaking to reporters with fellow State Department cabinet secretaries, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the administration was hitting more than two dozen Iranian people and institutions with sanctions.
“No matter where you are in the world you will risk sanctions,” he said, warning foreign companies and officials not to do business with targeted Iranian entities.
However, nearly all of them, including Iran’s Defense Ministry and its atomic energy agency, were already subject to US sanctions that the administration reimposed after its withdrawal from the deal.
Pompeo said the United States was acting because the rest of the world refused to face the Iranian threat.
A United Nations arms embargo against Iran is set to expire in October under the nuclear deal, but Pompeo and others insist the resumption overturned its termination.
The other world powers in the deal – France, Germany, the UK, China, and Russia – have struggled to make up for the sanctions the US reimposed on Iran after the Trump administration left the pact, which the president said was one-sided in favor of Tehran. .
Few of the UN member states believe the United States has the legal capacity to reinstate sanctions due to the 2018 withdrawal. The United States argues that it retains the right to do so as an initial participant to the agreement and member of the board.
A disagreement over the deal and US legal status could set the stage for a tense meeting at the United Nations General Assembly this week.