jcpoa 20 August 2020

Trump insists US will resort to ‘snapback’ to retain Iran arms embargo

President Donald Trump’s administration is likely to resort to the ‘snapback’ clause in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPOA’) nuclear agreement with Tehran that it quit in 2018. So said the US president following a crushing defeat at the Security Council where the US fought to retain a UN arms embargo on Iran. 

Following the setback at the Security Council last Saturday, where the US came seven short of the nine votes it needed to extend the embargo which expires in October, President Trump said the defeat at the UN was expected… but the US will still prevail. ‘Well, we knew what the vote was going to be but we’ll be doing a snapback, you’ll be watching it next week,’ Trump said at a news conference last Saturday.

‘Snapback’ is the mechanism contained in the JCPOA, the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with Iran by the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union, under which, in the event of a violation of the terms of the agreement by Iran, UN sanctions against Iran are reinstated.

The Trump administration pulled out of the agreement in 2015 but insists it will still invoke the clause. The European Union and members of the Security Council disagree.

‘Given that the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and has not participated in any JCPOA structures or activities subsequently, the US cannot be considered as a JCPOA participant,’ a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Germany’s dpa news agency. ‘We therefore consider that the US is not in a position to resort to mechanisms reserved for JCPOA participants.’