The United States on Thursday submitted a letter to the United Nations Security Council seeking restoration of international sanctions on Iran.
The three-page letter signed by the Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, was addressed to the President of the council.
Mr Pompeo accused Iran of non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement it reached with world powers in 2015.
This move was coming a week after the council rejected a U.S. proposal seeking indefinite extension of a UN arms embargo on Tehran.
The 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of powers comprising the US, China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany.
Under the accord, international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for limits on its nuclear weapons programmes.
However, the administration of President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018.
This had called to question the legality of the U.S. latest move to restore the sanctions under the “SnapBack“ mechanism provided for by the JCPOA.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif noted this in a letter he submitted to the Security Council ahead of the U.S. notification
Mr Zarif said Washington had no right to trigger the “snapback” mechanism as it was no longer a party to the pact.
“The U.S. push to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran will have dangerous consequences.
“Now it is the international community’s turn to counter the unlawful push by the United States,” he said.
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the U.N.., Amb. Vassily Nebenzia, argued in the same vein, describing Washington’s bid as “nonexistent”.
Mr Nebenzia said only a country that remained in the 2015 agreement could invoke the mechanism to seek return of the sanctions on Iran.
However, Mr Pompeo said his country was relying on the Security Council’s Resolution 2231 of 2015, not the JCPOA, to initiative the SnapBack measures on Tehran.
“Resolution 2231 provides the United States with the right to initiate the ‘SnapBack’ of UN measures on Iran.
“That right is available to the United States irrespective of its current position on, or activities in relation to, JCPOA,” a legal brief submitted along with the letter stated.
The brief said the JCPOA was a non-binding political arrangement that was related to but distinct from Resolution 2231.