Pompeo: US to return to UN to ensure Iran sanctions enforced

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the international sanctions on Iran will return this weekend, despite opposition from most of the Security Council.

al-monitor US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) speaks at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the State Department in Washington, on Sept. 16, 2020. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Sep 16, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will return to the United Nations in an effort to reinstate sanctions on Iran next week, despite concerns from UN Security Council members who believe Washington lacks the legal authority to do so. 

"We will return to the United Nations to reimpose sanctions, so that the arms embargo will become permanent next week," Pompeo said at a briefing with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today. “We’ll do all the things we need to do to ensure that those sanctions are enforced.” 

"The United States will do what it always does. It will do its share as part of its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East,” Pompeo said.

Last month, the secretary said he had initiated the process of restoring sanctions by filing a formal UN complaint accusing Tehran of breaching its nuclear obligations under the Obama-era nuclear deal. 

Elliott Abrams, the US special envoy for Iran, said those sanctions will take effect Saturday and warned Washington will impose their “full force” on manufacturers doing business with the Islamic Republic.  "It’s time for peace-loving nations to recognize this reality and join us in imposing sanctions on Iran," Abrams said.

A majority of the Security Council has rejected the Trump administration’s efforts, with members arguing the United States can’t reinstate sanctions under the same nuclear deal it withdrew from in 2018. Pompeo says the US is able to trigger sanctions because the United States remains a signatory of the UN resolution that endorsed the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

The United Kingdom and other US allies have expressed concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions, but also want to ensure the deal’s survival. Raab today acknowledged the JCPOA wasn’t “perfect by any stretch of the imagination” and should be broadened. 

“Our ambition for a broader rapprochement, a more comprehensive deal is I think in exactly the same place as the US,” he said. “There may be shades of difference, but we always manage them as constructively as we have to this point.”