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Niger's envoy reaffirms rejection of Iran snapback sanctions as UN Security Council president

The African state's UN ambassador, who is chairing the Security Council for September, said the United States cannot trigger the return of UN sanctions on Iran.

The new United Nations Security Council president, Niger, said the body will stick with a decision to not reimpose sanctions on Iran, despite the United States’ request, Reuters reported today. 

There is a monthly rotation of the presidency among the 15 countries that comprise the Security Council, and Niger is serving for September. Niger’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdou Abarry, made the comments today.

“We’re staying with this decision ... that was stated and announced by the president of the Security Council last month,” said Abarry, according to Reuters. The president then was Indonesia’s  Dian Triansyah Djani.

In August, the United States asked the UN Security Council to reimpose sanctions on Iran, saying Iran is not complying with the 2015 nuclear deal that prohibited Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, removed sanctions on Tehran in exchange for its compliance on the nuclear issue. The agreement includes a mechanism whereby parties to the deal can trigger “snapback” sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic violates the deal.

The council rejected the US efforts to put the sanctions back in place. European parties to the deal said at the time that the United States cannot trigger the return of sanctions because it withdrew from the agreement in 2018. Russia and China are the other signatories, along with Iran.

Under the deal, which is specified in UN Security Council Resolution 2231, other members of the council can put forward a sanctions relief extension for Iran in the event a country triggers the sanctions. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that if any members of the council introduce a resolution to continue sanctions relief on Iran, the United States will veto it.

The Nigerien envoy’s comments at the UN, however, signal that the organization is still of the opinion that the United States has no authority to begin the “snapback” process in the first place.

The ambassador’s statements are an added setback for the United States as it attempts to further deter Iran. Also in August, the Security Council declined to extend a weapons embargo on Iran that expires in October, as per the 2015 deal.

Iran denies it is building a nuclear weapon, but the United States continues to take action. Last week, the US government seized control of websites it said Iran was using to facilitate oil deals with Venezuela.

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