Iran rejects U.S. moves to re-impose U.N. sanctions, vows ‘rigid response’

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Sept. 20 (UPI) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed Sunday to respond to the United States’ unilateral move to reinstate U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

In a televised address during a cabinet meeting Sunday evening, Rouhani warned, “if the U.S. wants to engage in bullying, it will face Iran’s rigid response,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

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Rouhani described the yearlong effort to re-impose the sanctions not only as a defeat for the Trump administration but one that has isolated the United States on the diplomatic stage.

“From now on, what the United States speaks about means nothing but rebellion, and no one will accept it, and the consequences of such words and such positions will go back to the United States itself,” Rouhani said, according to a summary of the meeting published by his presidential office.

Despite international pushback, the Trump administration on Saturday said it reimposed U.N. sanctions against Iran that were removed following the signing of the multinational 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from in 2018. The sanctions will also see an arms embargo extended.

“The United States expects all U.N. Member States to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Saturday night.

Pompeo has said the United States has the ability to re-impose the U.N. sanctions despite no longer being a party to the JCPOA as it is a U.N. member and can invoke the so-called snapback mechanism in the governmental body’s Resolution 2231 that recognizes the deal signed by China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, the European Union and the United States.

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President Donald Trump had long been a critic of the deal and called it “defective at its core” when he withdrew the United States from it and imposed sanctions. In response, Iran has repeatedly reneged on its commitments under the deal.

Pompeo, who initiated a 30-day deadline for the sanctions to go into effect last month, warned nations that do not comply with them on Saturday that they are “prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of U.N.-prohibited activity.”

The United States’ top diplomat said the return of sanctions will make the world safer and is “a step toward international peace and security,” describing Iran as the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East.

Shortly after Pompeo issued the statement, Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the U.N., said the United States’ claim to the snapback mechanism was “null & void” as it is not a member of the JCPOA.

“U.S.’ illegal & false ‘deadline’ has come and gone,” he wrote on Twitter. “U.S. is STILL in violation of JCPOA and Res 2231 — swimming against int’l currents will only bring it more isolation.”

On Sunday, Iran’s foreign ministry published a statement saying Pompeo’s claims to reimposing the sanctions are “groundless and invalid and lacks any legal effect,” accusing him of trying to intimidate other countries into compliance.

“As the Islamic Republic of Iran has reiterated time and again, the U.S. regime is the biggest threat to world peace and security,” the ministry said in the statement, warning the United States that if it “makes any move in line with these threats, whether alone or in cahoots with the few cronies of its own, it will be met with serious reaction and will be responsible for all the dangerous consequences of its move.”

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In a joint statement Sunday from Britain, France and Germany, the E3 countries of the JCOPA rejected the United States’ claim to re-imposing sanctions through the snapback mechanism, stating the move “is incapable of having legal effect.”

“It flows from this that any decisions and actions, which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome, would also be incapable of having any legal effect,” the countries said. “We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, Pompeo said the European nations are concerned over the Iranian arms embargo set to expire next month but have done nothing to stop it.

“They haven’t lifted a finger,” he said. “They haven’t done the work that needs to be done. They have no option, no alternative to what we’ve done to ensure that that doesn’t happen.”

The issue of re-imposing U.N. sanctions has seen Pompeo increase his criticism against the U.S. allies with accusing them earlier this month of a “failure of leadership” and of “siding with the ayatollahs.”

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been escalating, particularly following Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, resulting in several maritime skirmishes and a U.S. drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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