Donald Trump signs executive order in attempt to restore UN sanctions on Iran

Donald Trump signs executive order in attempt to restore UN sanctions on Iran
Donald Trump signs executive order in attempt to restore UN sanctions on Iran

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order that aims to enforce United Nations sanctions on Iran as his administration announced sanctions on Iranian-linked individuals and entities.

The executive order follows resistance from allies and the United Nations to US pressure to reinstate sanctions lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and extend a UN arms embargo set to expire next month.

“I am issuing a new executive order, restoring UN sanctions on Iran, and imposing new sanctions and export controls on more than two dozen entities and individuals that support Iran’s nuclear, missile, and conventional arms-related activities,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

He vowed not to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, two years after pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed with Tehran by the Obama administration, and also signed by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, to prevent Iran from acquiring such weapons.

“My administration will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, nor will we allow Iran to endanger the rest of the world with a fresh supply of ballistic missiles and conventional arms,” Mr Trump said.

The president's executive order came only minutes after the Treasury and State Departments announced sanctions on 27 entities and individuals connected to Iran’s proliferation networks.

“Rather than waiting for Iran to threaten the world, the US is taking sweeping actions to prevent the world’s top state sponsor of terror from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.

He was joined at the State Department by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, UN Ambassador Kelly Craft and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to announce the new sanctions, which included Iran's defence ministry.

Mr Esper said the US stood ready to respond to future Iranian aggression as the Treasury designated several key producers and suppliers of military-grade dual-use items for Iran's ballistic missile programme.

Also sanctioned on Monday were three deputy directors from the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, including Mohammad Maragheh, deputy head of nuclear planning and strategic supervision, and Javad Sabet, head of the agency's Nuclear Science and Technology Research Institute.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that a total of five Iranian scientists were added to the sanctions list. Two people targeted with sanctions were central to Iran’s uranium enrichment operations, Mr Pompeo said.

Iran has breached nuclear enrichment and stockpile limits after the US pulled out of the JCPOA and Mr Pompeo notified the Security Council last month that the US was triggering a 30-day "snap back" process to restore UN sanctions on Iran by September 19.

But other Security Council members dispute invoke the "snapback" clause after leaving the agreement. Britain, France and Germany said the US announcement "is incapable of having legal effect”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the uncertainty was preventing him acting on the US declaration. In a letter to the Security Council, he said there would be no snapback sanctions on Iran without a green light.

“The Security Council has taken no action subsequent to the receipt of the letter of the US secretary of state, neither have any of its members or its president,” Mr Guterres wrote.

"It is not for the secretary general to proceed as if no such uncertainty exists.”

Ms Craft said on Monday that she expected every single UN member state will reimpose sanctions on Iran. Mr Trump is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Mr Pompeo said that if countries failed to act " the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures”.

Separately, Eliott Abrams, the US Special Representative on Iran and Venezuela, said the sanctions also aim to counter Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Iran still uses its arsenal of weapons to foment instability across the Middle East,” Mr Abrams said in a call with reporters.

Mr Abrams said the new sanctions would target anyone selling arms to Iran and shrugged off criticism describing the US as isolated and unilateral sanctions as ineffective. “After the snapback sanctions went into effect on Saturday, the Iranian riyal fell to its lowest [rate] ever,” he said.

He said the 2015 deal left a pathway to a nuclear weapon for Iran through setting artificial deadlines that would later expire.

The US is open to diplomacy but Tehran had to stop supporting terrorism and promoting anti-Semitism, he said.

Updated: September 21, 2020 09:36 PM

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