un-sanctions 25 June 2020

Britain, France and Germany say they will not back US efforts to trigger Iran arms embargo

Britain, France and Germany said this week they would not back the US in its efforts to unilaterally trigger an extension to a UN arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October.

‘We firmly believe that any unilateral attempt to trigger U.N. sanctions snapback would have serious adverse consequences in the U.N. Security Council,’ the foreign ministers of the three European countries (‘E3’) said in a statement.

‘We would not support such a decision, which would be incompatible with our current efforts to preserve the JCPoA (Iran nuclear deal),’ they said after a meeting in Berlin.

A UN arms embargo on Iran is set to expire in October, under a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPoA’) also stipulates the lifting of travel restrictions on officials and entities involved in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Despite having left the deal, the Trump administration wants to use a clause in it that allows any signatory to unilaterally trigger an extension of the UN arms embargo against Iran.

A renewal of the arms embargo is likely to be opposed by Russia and China, which have veto powers in the Security Council and are reportedly eager to resume arms sales to Tehran.

Meanwhile, as the United States maintains its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran, it has emerged that the Iranian port of Chabahar remains spared from US sanctions, because it is deemed a hub for the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera news channel quoted an unidentified US State Department spokesperson as saying: ‘After extensive consideration, in November 2018 the administration granted a narrow exception […] to allow a limited number of activities that support the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, a key US national security interest. The exception provided for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and allowed for the operation of Chabahar port in support of these goals.’

As a result of the exception, Afghanistan can import sanctioned Iranian fuel and Iranian-made goods considered vital for humanitarian assistance, but the port also serves other US interests in the region.

Chabahar port is well connected to the rest of Iran with road and rail links. It provides India – a key US ally in the region that is assisting with Afghan reconstruction – access to the landlocked country.