Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 21, 2020

U.S. Will Sanction Other Countries For Not Enforcing UN Sanctions That Do Not Exist

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempted to trigger the 'snapback' of UN sanctions against Iran. He failed.

The snapback option is part of the Dispute Resolution Mechanism that is laid out in article 36 and 37 of the nuclear deal with Iran. The UN Security Council adopted the deal in its resolution 2231. When the U.S. move was first announced we explained in detail why the it would fail and summarized:

Only participants of the deal can trigger the snapback process. The U.S. is no longer recognized as such a participant.

Before a snapback can occur there are actually formal processes in the 'Joint Commission' and in the UNSC which must be followed. Those processes will not happen because the other JCPOA and UNSC members will simply ignore a U.S. attempt to trigger them.

Other members of the deal could still do that though. But the Europeans are unlikely to take the U.S. side on this issue.

The legal argument the U.S. makes to claim a right to trigger the snapback sanctions is bizarre and it does not hold up.

Soon after Pompeo's announcement Russia, China and the EU3 countries Britain, France and Germany as well as Iran rejected the U.S. move. EU High Representative Josep Borrell, who coordinates the Joint Commission that supervises the nuclear deal, declared the U.S. move to be null and void:

I take note of today’s announcement by the US regarding the so-called UN sanctions “snapback mechanism” under UN Security Council resolution 2231.

As I have repeatedly recalled, the US unilaterally ceased participation in the JCPOA by presidential Memorandum on 8 May 2018 and has subsequently not participated in any JCPOA-related activities. It cannot, therefore, be considered to be a JCPOA participant State for the purposes of possible sanctions snapback foreseen by the resolution.

Belgium, which is the UN Security Council "facilitator" of the residual UN sanctions on Iran under UNSC resolution 2231, also rejected the U.S. position.

Pompous may still try procedural tricks at the United Nations to somehow put the issue on the agenda. But other Security Council members are likely to find ways to prevent that.

This is the second time within a week that U.S. attempts against Iran at the United Nations were rejected. Last week the U.S. proposed to prolong an arms embargo against Iran. The current one will run out in October. The move failed:

The US has suffered a humiliating defeat at the United Nations as its proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran won support from only the Dominican Republic at the security council vote.

The whole attempt to reintroduce sanctions under the nuclear deal has only one purpose:

The Trump administration is not seeking to restore U.N. sanctions because they want to preserve the JCPOA, because it has been their goal all along to kill the agreement and create a pretext for conflict.

The U.S. hopes to pressure Iran until it formally declares the deal dead. That could then give pretext for launching a larger conflict against the country. But as long as the other deal members hold up their commitments Iran is likely to stick to the deal.

The U.S. therefore swings the wrecking ball that it calls foreign policy against anyone who still supports the deal.

The U.S. will now pretend that its illegal move triggered the 30 days period that is foreseen in resolution 2231 before sanctions would come back. In 30 days it will pretend that the UN sanctions are back. After that the U.S. will sanctions those countries which ignore UN sanctions against Iran that do not exist:

The United States will not hesitate to impose sanctions on any nation that opposes its effort to "snapback" United Nations sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told "Special Report" Wednesday night.

"When we have seen any country violate our current sanctions, the current American sanctions, we have held every nation accountable for that," Pompeo told host Bret Baier. "We will do the same with respect to the broader U.N. Security Council sanctions as well."

I hope that the U.S. will follow through on this. The more it sanctions left and right for totally irrational reasons the more incentives will other countries have to build mechanisms that make U.S. sanctions ineffective and useless. Russia has already done that and China to some extend. The Europeans should have done this long ago but are only now considering it seriously.

There are also counter measures that could and should be considered. A European tax on digital products would seriously hurt Google, Facebook, Ebay and other U.S. companies. When their profits and stocks drop the Trump administration might learn that wrecking balls have the tendency to swing back.

Posted by b on August 21, 2020 at 16:44 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 23 2020 3:33 utc | 98 "JCPOA Participants" separate and independent from the JCPOA

"JCPOA Participants" are strictly speaking Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) and the European Union. No one else is relevant. That was the case at the Adoption of the Agreement.

According to Wikipedia, "As provided for in the JCPOA, the agreement was formally endorsed by the UN Security Council,[146][147] incorporating it into international law.[148][149] There was initially disagreement on if the deal is legally binding on the United States." Further: "Under U.S. law the JCPOA is a non-binding political commitment.[160][161] According to the U.S. State Department, it specifically is not an executive agreement or a treaty.[162] There are widespread incorrect reports that it is an executive agreement.[163][164] In contrast to treaties, which require two-thirds of the Senate to consent to ratification, political commitments require no congressional approval, and are not legally binding as a matter of domestic law (although in some cases they may be binding on the U.S. as a matter of international law)."

Further: "In a letter sent to then U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, the U.S. State Department said that the JCPOA "is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document".[383]

According to the Congressional Research Service, different definitions of "treaty" are used in international law and in domestic U.S. law. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, "The term 'treaty' has a broader meaning under international law than under domestic law. Under international law, 'treaty' refers to any binding international agreement.[384] Under domestic U.S. law, 'treaty' signifies only those binding international agreements that have received the advice and consent of the Senate."[385]"

The Congressional Research Office issued a legal opinion back in March, 2018, about this issue, the relevant part of which says:


The framework for withdrawal from the JCPOA under international law potentially is more complex. Political commitments are not legally binding between nations, and a party can withdraw at any time without violating international law—although there may be political consequences for doing so. But this general rule is complicated by the fact that the JCPOA was “endorsed by” and incorporated into U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015). Some observers and European officials have contended that, even if the JCPOA began as a nonbinding pact between the P5+1 and Iran, Resolution 2231 converted its voluntary commitments into legal obligations that are binding under the U.N. Charter. Under Articles 25 and 48 of the U.N. Charter, Member States of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the “decisions” of the Security Council—meaning that such decisions are binding under international law. The Security Council’s “recommendations,” on the other hand, lack binding effect according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the U.N.’s principal judicial organ. Whether a
provision is understood as a nonbinding recommendation or a binding decision depends on the precise language of the resolution.

In Resolution 2231, it seems clear that the Security Council intended the provisions that lifted U.N.-based sanctions to be legally binding (for the reasons discussed here). But whether Resolution 2231 creates an obligation under international law for the United States to withhold its domestic secondary sanctions or to comply with the JCPOA more broadly is more difficult to resolve. Resolution 2231 “[c]alls upon all Members States . . . to take such actions as may be appropriate to support the implementation of the JCPOA, including by . . . refraining from actions that undermine implementation of commitments under
the JCPOA[.]” While this provision arguably seeks general compliance with the JCPOA, some commentators interpret the phrase “calls upon” as a hortatory, nonbinding expression in Security Council parlance. Others argue that the phrase can create an obligation under international law to comply. And a
third group falls in between, describing the phrase as purposefully ambiguous or dependent on its context.

In a 1971 advisory opinion, the ICJ concluded that a provision in a Security Council resolution that “[c]all[ed] upon all States . . . to refrain from any dealings with the Government of South Africa” was binding under the U.N. Charter. But the ICJ based its conclusion on the historical context of the provision
rather than on a categorical interpretation of the operative language. Since the ICJ’s opinion, U.N. Member States have ascribed varying levels of significance to the phrase “calls upon” in subsequent Security Council resolutions. Consequently, there is no clear answer to whether Resolution 2231 creates an obligation to comply with the JCPOA that is binding as a matter of international law.

The above is just to clear the air in terms of what is binding and not binding on the US. But as we shall see, I think it's irrelevant.

In the JCPOA itself, there is this:


JCPOA Annex IV – Joint Commission
1. Establishment, Composition, and Coordinator
1.1. The Joint Commission is established to carry out the functions assigned to it in the JCPOA, including its Annexes.
1.2. The Joint Commission is comprised of representatives of Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), together, the JCPOA participants.

This further identifies "the JCPOA participants" - as of the Adoption. Again, see below.

As I see it, the problem for the US is that it withdrew from the JCPOA *before* the triggering of the dispute resolution by Iran. Therefore it has not been a part of the dispute resolution mechanism. According to statement from various parties, as described here, this appears to indeed be the case.

According to the wording of the JCPOA itself:


DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM
36.
If Iran believed that any or all of the E3/EU+3 were not meeting their commitments under this JCPOA, Iran could refer the issue to the Joint Commission for resolution; similarly, if any of the E3/EU+3 believed that Iran was not meeting its commitments under this JCPOA, any of the E3/EU+3 could do the same. The Joint Commission would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration, any participant could refer the issue to Ministers of Foreign Affairs, if it believed the compliance issue had not been resolved.

Ministers would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration – in parallel
with (or in lieu of) review at the Ministerial level - either the complaining participant or the participant whose performance is in question could request
that the issue be considered by an Advisory Board, which would consist of three members (one each appointed by the participants in the dispute and a third independent member). The Advisory Board should provide a non -binding opinion on the compliance issue within 15 days. If, after this 30 -day process the issue is not resolved, the Joint Commission would consider the opinion of the Advisory Board for no more than 5 days in order to resolve the issue. If the issue still has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining participant, and if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant non-performance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part and/or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.

37.
Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA, the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution
to continue the sanctions lifting. If the resolution described above has not been adopted within 30 days of the notification, then the provisions of the old UN
Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed, unless the UN Security Council decides otherwise. In such event, these provisions would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions. The UN Security Council, expressing its intention to prevent the reapplication of the provisions if the issue giving rise to the notification is resolved within this period, intends to take into account the views of the States involved in the issue and any opinion on the issue of the Advisory Board. Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.

The "complaining participant" in this case is *Iran* - *not* the US. Since the US has not participated in any way with the JCPOA Dispute Resolution mechanism, it can not approach the UN at *this* time and "complain" about Iran's actions. It can not do this under either the JCPOA Agreement *or* UN Resolution 2231, which incorporated the JCPOA in itself, but did not modify any of the procedures for Dispute Resolution or "snapback" provisions.

So it is *irrelevant* whether the US can be considered a "participant" or not in the JCPOA at this time. Unless the US is the "complaining party" or "the party being complained about" - which it is - all it can do under the Dispute Resolution mechanism is perform "good faith efforts" to resolve the issue - which clearly the US has not done. And since it is not the "complainant", it can not go to the UNSC at this time and request redress for anything Iran has done without going through the Dispute Resolution process.

Whether it *could* go through the Dispute Resolution process is another matter. That *would* require a determination from the UNSC or the International Court of Justice that would allow it back into the JCPOA as a full participant. Frankly, I don't see that happening in either case.

Again: This clause in the JCPOA specifically states who can do what (emphasis mine):


If the issue still has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining participant, and if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant non-performance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part and/or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.

The only way the US can trigger snapback is to initiate it's own Dispute Resolution process with the Joint Commission - and I don't see that being allowed since the US withdrew from the JCPOA.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 23 2020 9:21 utc | 101

On re-reading, however, it appears that the US still has the ability to initiate the snapback by the simple process of vetoing any UNSC Resolution to extend the sanctions lifting.

Whereas the JCPOA states: "Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA, the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting. If the resolution described above has not been adopted within 30 days of the notification, then the provisions of the old UN Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed, unless the UN Security Council decides otherwise.

The problem is that the US can veto the Resolution to extend the sanctions lifting - or the US can veto any *other* Resolution the UNSC may decide to pass on the issue, if it's not to the US' liking. Which means the UNSC has *no* mechanism to avoid a US re-imposition of the snapback sanctions.

There was a suggestion in one article that Russia or China could introduce the Resolution to continue the sanctions as a "procedural" issue - which is not subject to the UNSC permanent member veto - but then the US could veto *that* Resolution, thus forcing the issue to be a "substantive" issue and thus subject to a veto. So the UNSC is screwed either way.

Even saying that the US not a "participant" is irrelevant, since neither the UNSC Resolution 2231 or the JCPOA say that is relevant when discussing the veto power in the UNSC over the continued sanctions lifting.

So Iran is screwed and the JCPOA is dead - unless the UNSC can somehow get a Resolution passed that keeps the US outside the issue and unable to veto the continuance of the sanctions lifting.

In my view, Obama deliberately engineered this snapback mechanism, knowing that whoever succeeded him as President would tear up the deal and manage to get the snapback implemented. According to some articles, he did this because he knew he couldn't get a full treaty passed in the Congress and thus only this snapback would allow the Agreement to go forward, giving him the foreign policy "win" he wanted for his "legacy." But I think he had the more sinister intent of insuring that the Iran war effort would go forward once the next Administration tore up the deal.

I suppose it's possible that even if the JCPOA dies, that the participants - without the US - can renegotiate another such deal. But given the US is the main sponsor of sanctions - and the EU has been unable to provide adequate sanctions relief while under the US thumb - I can't see Iran agreeing to negotiate another deal.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 23 2020 10:37 utc | 102

Addendum: Peter Jenkins wrote a piece back in February on the issue of UNSC procedures as a means of derailing the US. However, as I mentioned, the US might be able to veto that method itself. I'm not knowledgeable enough to say.

The Jerusalem Post points out a couple related possibilities:


Most of the UNSC members have said that the US has no legal standing to call for the snapback of sanctions because it withdrew from the Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018. There must also be a good-faith effort to resolve issues around compliance, they have explained.

According to UNSC Resolution 2331, if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a non-compliance complaint, then the body’s president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.

The US would be able to veto this, giving it a cleaner argument that sanctions on Iran have to be reimposed.

However, according to Resolution 2231 the council would “take into account the views of the states involved.” Given the strong opposition, some diplomats say the council president – Indonesia for August and Niger for September – would not have to put up a draft text.

“Faced with this very strong view of a majority of Security Council members that the snapback process has not been triggered, as the presidency they are not bound to introduce the draft resolution,” said a UN Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pompeo and outgoing US Iran envoy Brian Hook signaled that Washington expects Indonesia or Niger to put a text to a vote. Another US option is to put forward the draft itself or ask the Dominican Republic to do so.

Larry Johnson [NOTE: Not the Larry Johnson from Pat Lang's blog, the CIA guy, but the Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School and the Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs] posted this article which argues for procedural ways that the UNSC members could cut the US out of the issue. Definitely worth the read.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 23 2020 11:12 utc | 103

@102 - 104 Richard Steven Hack You are missing the important prerequisite: the process of "snap-back" can only be started with a complaint to the UNSC from a "JCPOA Participant State".

Once that complaint is received then, yes, the clock starts ticking towards snap-back, and the way that UNSCR 2231 is written means that, again, yes, this countdown can not be stopped if a permanent member of the Security Council (in this case, the USA) is determined to prevent if from being stopped.

But - on more time, yet again - the entire process must begin with a complaint from a JCPOA Participant State, and if the USA is no longer regarded by the Security Council as such then its complaint is irrelevant, just as surely as a complaint from Mauritius or New Guinea or Portugal can - and would - be dismissed as being without standing.

So, the only important question is this: is the USA still a JCPOA Participant State?

The correct answer is: no, it isn't.

The USA ceased being a JCPOA Participant State when Trump signed a Presidential Executive Order stating that the USA had ceased its participation in the JCPOA.

Everything hinged upon that point i.e. if the USA is *not* a JCPOA Participant State (and it is not) then any complaint it makes to the UNSC about Iranian non-compliance can not and does not trigger the snap-back provision of UNSCR 2231.

A complaint from the UK can.
Ditto a complaint from France.
Equally, a complaint from Germany.

That the USA can not cajole any of those vassal states to act as its proxy is what is throwing Pompeo into a rage.

Which, honestly, is something that couldn't happen to a more fitting person.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 23 2020 12:50 utc | 104

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 23 2020 12:50 utc | 105 @102 - 104 Richard Steven Hack You are missing the important prerequisite: the process of "snap-back" can only be started with a complaint to the UNSC from a "JCPOA Participant State".

Obviously I've missed nothing. The problem is that while the complaint must come from a participant state, that is irrelevant in this case because the complainer is *Iran*, *not* the US. The US can not bring a complaint to the UNSC without going through the Dispute Process, as I said - and in fact is *not* bringing a complaint. It is telling the UNSC that it intends to implement the snapback *regardless.* And it is going to do so by vetoing any UNSC Resolution which extends the sanctions relief.

"So, the only important question is this: is the USA still a JCPOA Participant State? The correct answer is: no, it isn't."

According to the JCPOA, it does not matter. Because the problem is the US is still a member of the UNSC, regardless of what the issue is. As such, it is allowed to veto any UNSC Resolution which extends the lifting of the sanctions.

That is the crux of the problem: the fact that any of the five permanent members of the UNSC can veto any UNSC Resolution. This section of the JCPOA specifically does *not* say that any of the 5 permanent members can not veto such a Resolution:


...the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting. If the resolution described above has not been adopted within 30 days of the notification, then the provisions of the old UN Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed, unless the UN Security Council decides otherwise.

It merely says that if the Resolution extending the sanctions relief is not adopted - meaning either that it has not been tabled or that it has been *vetoed* - then the snapback occurs. It says nothing about *who* can veto such a Resolution, except the phrase "in accordance with its procedures", meaning the usual UNSC procedures - which includes the US being able to use its veto (at least if the issue is considered "substantive", which this is.)

So whether the US is a "participant" in the JCPOA is *irrelevant*.

Now, it is possible that the UNSC will attempt to argue as you do - that since the US is no longer a "participant" in the JCPOA by any rational legal view - then the US has no standing to vote on any Resolution involving the JCPOA. I have not read anything that this is feasible, other than the concept of using procedural rules to prevent the tabling of the issue to the UNSC Agenda in the first place. If you haven't read Larry Johnson's piece, I suggest you do so.

The crux of the issue, as I've said, is this rule that any of the 5 permanent members of the UNSC can veto *any* "substantive" resolution (as opposed to a "procedural" Resolution). The veto power is absolute. It can only be overridden by a UN General Assembly majority vote invoking the U.N. Resolution 377.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 23 2020 13:33 utc | 105

Yeah, Right

USA is saying that the states enumerated in UN2231 were then defined as "JCPOA Participant" within the Resolution as a convenience.

JCPOA didn't use wording that makes it clear application for snap-back applies only to JCPOA Participants that are active at the time that application is made.

It's not difficult to see this. UN2231 could've reversed the parenthesis to make "JCPOA Participants" primary and added wording like: "the currently active participants".

So, you're right about the logic of what is a "JCPOA Participant" but that is not what is really in dispute here. What's in dispute is whether UN2231 enshrines that list of participants as having "snap-back" privileges. And USA has some grounds to claim that it does - even it is not completely logical.

And here is where the illogic is most apparent: If USA were a currently active participant, then it would be subject to the dispute-resolution mechanism of the JCPOA. But since it is no longer a participant, it is not bound to go through that process.

Does it makes sense for UNSC to support JCPOA and yet allow a State to circumvent it? No. But that's what the wording appears to allow.

Most States would try to work with other States in such a situation to resolve the matter. But USA is powerful enough that they can insist that the privilege that 2231 accords them be respected.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 23 2020 13:43 utc | 106

Richard Steven Hack @Aug23 13:33 #106

the complainer is *Iran*, *not* the US.... The US can not bring a complaint to the UNSC without going through the Dispute Process, as I said - and in fact is *not* bringing a complaint.

This is wrong. Iran has not brought a complaint to UNSC, USA has. Pompeo hand-delivered it.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 23 2020 13:48 utc | 107

JCPOA Participant vs JCPOA signatory. US although a signatory is by any definition no longer a participant.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 23 2020 13:50 utc | 108

I expect snap-back will be invoked.

I expect the European poodles and all other countries that USA can influence will abide by snap-back.

I expect that Russia, China, and Iran will remain UN members and simply work around the snap-back sanctions by providing security guarantees to Iran and/or having SCO change its entry criteria to allow Iran's to join.

I expect that Iran will exit a non-functioning JCPOA (as they have always said they would) but remain in NPT.

I expect that Western media will conveniently forget the strong-arm tactics that forced Iran to exit JCPOA and will instead focus on Iran as a rogue State and a threat to world peace.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 23 2020 14:11 utc | 109

Obviously no-one who has any power in the US today read ancient history.

The US is coming to resemble more and more the Athenian Empire, which behaved in exactly the same arrogant way. All we have to do now is wait for the equivalent of the Sicilian expedition, where most of the invading force died in the quarries. After that it was a pretty swift descent, ending in being absorbed into the Roman Empire. I imagine the Chinese can fulfil that latter role in the near future.

Posted by: Jams O'Donnell | Aug 23 2020 21:10 utc | 110

Jackrabbit 110

If the US can force it through to a vote where its veto power can be used then UNSC is finished. I don't see Russia and China abiding by reinstated UN sanctions on Iran as US pulled out of the deal and has not upheld any of its obligations under the deal.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 23 2020 21:18 utc | 111

@107 Jackrabbit "USA is saying that the states enumerated in UN2231 were then defined as "JCPOA Participant" within the Resolution as a convenience."

And our weasel-word for today is "defined".

Replace it with the word "described" and that paragraph continues to make perfect sense but - from the USA's PoV - their argument falls to the ground.

So is OP10 "definitive" or is it "descriptive"?

It is the latter, because *if* it had been the former then that would require the UNSC to have come to a *decision*, and that paragraph begins with "Encourages", not "Decides".

Note also the sheer absurdity of the argument i.e. the claim the the Council has the authority to decide who has membership of a group to which it does not itself belong.

Can it also pass a resolution claiming that NATO includes the Cook Islands and Fiji, even tho they have not applied for membership and do not want to join?

If it passes a resolution that lists the UK as a member state of the EU does that mean that Brexit can not happen?

Can the UNSC remove a country from the G7 by dint of a Resolution that names only six countries?

These are all manifestly absurd propositions. The claim that the Security Council can "define" who is or is not "in" the JCPOA is just as absurd a proposition, and it is a measure of how shameless he is that Pompeo can advance that argument without blushing.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 23 2020 22:59 utc | 112

@106 Richard Steven Hack "Now, it is possible that the UNSC will attempt to argue as you do - that since the US is no longer a "participant" in the JCPOA by any rational legal view - then the US has no standing to vote on any Resolution involving the JCPOA"

No, that has never been my argument. That is your straw man.

My argument has always been this: the process of snap-back MUST begin with a complaint to the Security Council, and that complaint MUST come from one of the participant states of the JCPOA. Without those two conditions being met then the process that leads to "snap-back" does not get out of the blocks, and nothing that you argue ever comes to pass.

Everyone accepts that the USA has just lodged a complaint to the UNSC.

The difference is that the USA is *alone* in claiming that it is still a "JCPOA Participant State".

No-one else on the Security Council accepts that claim.
Not one of the other JCPOA Participants accepts that claim.

The USA is in the ludicrous position of simultaneously claiming that it is a "JCPOA Participant State" at the same time that it is claiming that it has ceased all participation in the JCPOA.

That is a claim so outrageous that not even John Bonkers Bolton is willing to argue it.

Fancy that: "We Lie, We Cheat" Pompeo is advancing an argument that makes even John Bolton blush.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 23 2020 23:26 utc | 113

@103 Richard Steven Hack "On re-reading, however, it appears that the US still has the ability to initiate the snapback by the simple process of vetoing any UNSC Resolution to extend the sanctions lifting."

And, yet again, you take a leap of faith that you are not entitled to take, precisely because it REQUIRES us to accept as fact that the process has indeed been initiated by a complaint of noncompliance from a participant state.

RSH: "Whereas the JCPOA states: 'Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant,' "

Annnnnnd, there it is. The complaint must come from a "participant", and the USA is no longer participating in the JCPOA.

The prerequisite for triggering this entire process is not met, ergo, the process never begins.

The USA has "complained" to the UNSC, but it is not a "participant" in the JCPOA. So that complaint triggers nothing.
The remaining participant states to the JCPOA have not complained to the UNSC. So, again, no process is triggered.

Absent a complain FROM A PARTICIPANT STATE then there can be no snap-back. And no such complaint is forthcoming.
All there has been is a complaint from the USA, but that means nothing because it is not a participant.

I simply do not understand how you can fail to comprehend that point.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 23 2020 23:37 utc | 114

Yeah, Right

There was something I linked here a week or so back about the president of the UNSC tabling something for a vote. It was the reason most states put in letters or statements to the president on the US moves but it is up to the president to decide.
Indonesia currently hold the presidency and shortly Nigeria will hold it. Just a matter of a bit of arm twisting of the president to get something put up for a vote.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 23 2020 23:56 utc | 115

@116 Peter AU1 If it was a week ago then that must have been related to the attempt to extend the arms embargo on Iran. That is an issue that doesn't involve snap-back, which is why the USA suffered that humiliating defeat.

But, hey, lackeys.... the USA does seem to be finding them somewhat thin on the ground.

It is important to note that this entire nonsense can be avoided if the USA can just pressure one of UK, France or Germany to lodge a complaint to the Security Council. There is absolutely no question - none whatsoever - that a complaint from any of those will trigger snap-back.

Even a decade ago it would have been a given that the USA would be able to browbeat one of those vassals (and, yes, I'm looking at you, Britain) into doing its bidding. Heck, it probably could have forced all three to table a joint complaint.

But now?

https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/iran/news/article/statement-by-the-foreign-ministers-of-france-germany-and-the-united-kingdom-20

How. Humiliating.

Pompeo is like a primary school bully who is shouting at everyone join him in the sandpit for a game of "let's pretend", only to get more and more enraged when they keep telling him to grow up and stop being a big cry-baby.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 0:38 utc | 116

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 23 2020 13:48 utc | 108 This is wrong. Iran has not brought a complaint to UNSC, USA has. Pompeo hand-delivered it.

The *EU* triggered the Dispute Resolution process in January, 2020, after Iran stated it would no longer adhere to limits on the number of centrifuges in play. They then suspended that action. Then in July, *Iran* also triggered the process on July 3, 2020, as stated here by the High Commissioner of the Joint Commission.

The US has not triggered the Dispute Resolution process. They can not as they are not a participant in the JCPOA any more.

What Yeah Right gets wrong - and seems incapable of understanding - is that *does not matter*. What matters is that the US can veto *any* attempt to extend the sanctions suspension. The US is using its alleged "complaint" - which can not go to the UNSC without having first gone through the Joint Commission - which the US has not done - merely to try to get back in as a "participant" in order to enable it to veto any sanctions resolution which the UNSC will pass in response to Iran's complaint.

The US also appears to have declared that it will unilaterally impose the snapback sanctions regardless of anything the UNSC does. Which is ridiculous in terms of the JCPOA Dispute Resolution process entirely.

Read the article I referenced by Larry Johnson. The *ONLY* way that the UNSC can shut down the US is by refusing to table the issue on the UNSC Agenda or by somehow treating the issue as a *procedural* one rather than a "substantive" one. If *any* UNSC Resolution is tabled by the UNSC for consideration, the US can *veto* that resolution. That veto power is *absolute*, as I said repeatedly. Other than the methods I've mentioned, the US can *not* be stopped from vetoing *any* UNSC Resolution on the Iran complaint, which will result in the snapback sanctions being automatically restored - *unless* the UNSC decides otherwise, as the 2231 Resolution says. But even if the UNSC "decides" otherwise, the US can veto *that* decision.

The US has the UN over a barrel and everyone knows it, which is why everyone is screaming that the entire UNSC system is at risk over this issue.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 24 2020 0:51 utc | 117

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 0:38 utc | 117 There is absolutely no question - none whatsoever - that a complaint from any of those will trigger snap-back.

If you bothered to do any research instead of just regurgitating the same argument over and over, you'd know that the EU already triggered the Dispute Resolution process in January. They simply suspended that action.

Iran then formally triggered it themselves on July 3. What the US is doing is saying they will veto any UNSC Resolution that extends the sanctions relief. Which is absolutely something the US can do *regardless* of the status of their "complaint" - which isn't a complaint because it hasn't gone through the process and *regardless* of whether they are a participant or not.

Read my lips: The US as a permanent member of the UNSC can veto *any* attempt to extend sanctions relief. The US can *not* be prevented from doing this unless the UNSC decides to not address the issue at all. Read that article I referred you to before responding.

Try doing some Google before speaking.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 24 2020 0:58 utc | 118

"The US is using its alleged "complaint" - which can not go to the UNSC without having first gone through the Joint Commission - which the US has not done - merely to try to get back in as a "participant" in order to enable it to veto any sanctions resolution which the UNSC will pass in response to Iran's complaint."

And I worded that wrong as well.

The US as a permanent member of the UNSC can veto any resolution on Iran. It has nothing to do with whether its "complaint" is tabled on the UN Agenda or not.

I'm not sure why the US is even bothering to issue a "complaint" of its own. Since it has not gone to the Joint Commission, the "complaint" is not subject to the Dispute Resolution process. The US can "complain" to the UNSC about Iran's actions at any time, but that has nothing to do with the formal complaint that Iran initiated on July 3. The US can veto any UNSC response to Iran's complaint.

I can only surmise that the US wants its "complaint" on the Agenda to somehow try to force the UNSC to table the Iran complaint so the US can veto *that* complaint - which is what I meant with the wording above. I can't figure out why that is because the US can veto any UNSC Resolution on the Iran complaint in the first place simply by being a permanent member of the UNSC. No Resolution can pass the UNSC without all five of the permanent members concurring (which is what a veto actually is - simply a failure to agree.)

And because of that, it doesn't matter whether the US is a "participant" in the JCPOA or not. The media and everyone else appears to not comprehend that. Or both sides are using that as a red herring.

Yeah Right's notion that the US can not "complain" to the UNSC is wrong. The US is not issuing a "complaint" under the JCPOA Dispute Resolution process. The word "complaint" is incorrect, and the media and Pompeo are using it wrong. What the US is doing is requesting the UNSC to table an item on the UNSC Agenda to discuss what the US calls "Iran's non-compliance" with the JCPOA. As I understand the UNSC, the US can do that at any time, just as it can request a discussion on *any* topic of international dispute. Whether it's a "complaint" under the JCPOA Dispute Resolution process is not the issue and this is why there is confusion over it.

I think the US is doing this at this time because of Iran's complaint. The US wanted the Iran arms embargo to continue. Iran triggered the JCPOA Dispute Resolution process in July because Iran was not getting sanctions relief and decided to get the UNSC involved. The US got shut down on the arms embargo issue, so the US apparently decided to push back by tabling an issue of Iran's alleged "non-compliance" with the JCPOA.

In other words, the US wants to do an "end-run" around the *existing* JCPOA Dispute Resolution process which *Iran* initiated in July. How the US intends to do this is - somehow - by tabling a *new* issue. What is still not clear to me is why they bothered since the US can veto any UNSC Resolution responding to Iran's complaint anyway.

The media and the US keeps saying that the US is moving to "trigger the sanctions snapback" by issuing its "complaint." This is wording that makes no sense. First, because the US can not do so without going through the Dispute Resolution process. Second, because the US could always do this as soon as *any* party - including Iran - triggered the Dispute Resolution process and it ended up on the UNSC Agenda resulting in a UNSC Resolution extending the sanctions relief. Third, because the US "complaint" - which is not a "complaint" - is unrelated to Iran's formal complaint under the JCPOA. Fourth, because the US "complaint" can not "trigger the snapback" because it is not a "complaint" under the JCPOA (Yeah Right gets that right, at least.)

So everyone appears to have misunderstood the situation. It's not clear that Pompeo has any clue what he's doing, or that the various EU ministers have any clue what he's doing. And the media seem to have zero clue.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Aug 24 2020 1:28 utc | 119

RSH "What the US is doing is requesting the UNSC to table an item on the UNSC Agenda to discuss what the US calls "Iran's non-compliance" with the JCPOA."

This is what its all about, and from what I make of it, it is up to the sitting presidency of the security council as to whether its tabled or not. Currently the presidency is held by Indonesia but shortly Nigeria will take over the presidency.

Expect to see the item tabled.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 24 2020 1:40 utc | 120

Yeah, Right @Aug23 22:59 #113

... "define". Replace it with the word "described" and that paragraph continues to make perfect sense but - from the USA's PoV - their argument falls to the ground.

... The claim that the Security Council can "define" who is or is not "in" the JCPOA is just as absurd a proposition ...


USA is arguing that as used in UN2231 "JCPOA Participants" is nothing but a label "defined" to signify the enumerated list of entities. Saying that the label is descriptive only strengthens the use of "JCPOA Participants" as independent of any import/linkage outside of UN2231.

I agree with that it is absurd as it doesn't agree with what any reasonable participant of an agreement would expect or be comfortable with. I made this case when I noted that there is already a dispute process in JCPOA that USA is circumventing. And current JCPOA participant is implied by the statement:

"Encourages ... (the “JCPOA participants”) to resolve any issues arising with respect to implementation of JCPOA commitments through the procedures specified in the JCPOA

However, there is enough ambiguity and USA can exert enough pressure, that USA is very likely to prevail. Indeed, it seems likely that they have already made arrangements with Indonesia or Nigeria.

And lets not be under any illusion that the Euro poodles complaining about Washington means that they are really bucking Washington. They simply don't need to get their hands dirty at this time because only USA is required. They and virtually all countries tied to USA and Europe will fall in line with US demands that the snapback be recognized. Just think about how many countries recognize Juan Guido as the leader of Venezuela just because Washington says so.

Peter AU1 @Aug24 1:40 #121 agrees: expect to see the item tabled. So that brings us to the question of what happens when/if USA prevails. I described what I thought would happen @Aug23 14:11 #110.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 24 2020 3:15 utc | 121

@119 RSH "If you bothered to do any research instead of just regurgitating the same argument over and over, you'd know that the EU already triggered the Dispute Resolution process in January."

Oh, fer' cryin' out loud. The Dispute Resolution process in the JCPOA is different from the sanctions snap-back provisions of UNSCR 2231.

One exists *within* the JCPOA itself, the other exists *outside* the JCPOA.

Therefore a participant state can invoke the dispute resolution without that starting the 30-day countdown to snap-back.
That is obvious, otherwise Iran would be unable to avail itself of the JCPOA dispute mechanism without inflicting irreparable damage upon itself.
Which, obviously, is an absurd proposition.

1) You are a JCPOA participant state.
2) You have a beef with one or more of the other states.
3) You take then to the dispute resolution commission.
4) You either are satisfied with the result of that arbitration, or you aren't.
5) If you aren't satisfied with the result then you can grit your teeth and carry on
****OR****
6) You can go outside the JCPOA and complain directly to the UN Security Council.

It is only the last action that triggers the countdown to snap-back.

As in: you can go through ***ALL*** of the preceding steps and it makes no difference w.r.t. snap-back ***PROVIDED*** you don't then grab your bat and ball and storm off to the Security Council with your complaint.

How are you not understanding that?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 3:39 utc | 122

@121 Peter AU1: "Currently the presidency is held by Indonesia but shortly Nigeria will take over the presidency."

Yeah, you keep saying that.

Except, of course, Nigeria doesn't have a seat on the Security Council, and so it can not take up the Presidency.

N.I.G.E.R. does, and it is N.I.G.E.R. that will take over the Presidency of the Security Council.

And Niger has - like Indonesia - already shown its colours. It abstained from the vote on the renewal of the arms embargo on Iran i.e. that ignominious rubbing of FatBoy Pompeo's nose in his own excrement.

Furthermore, Niger is far, far, far more likely to take its advice from France than from the USA, and France has already made its position crystal-clear: the USA is no longer a participant in the JCPOA and therefore has no standing to trigger snap-back via a complaint to the Security Council.

It is therefore my prediction that Niger is no more likely to table that complaint than Indonesia, and probably less likely because it will be taking advice from France. Therefore the complaint will not be included in the agenda and, therefore, as far as the Security Council is concerned no complaint has been received and therefore no 30 day countdown to snap-back has begun.

And no amount of complaining from the USA arguing otherwise will make the slightest difference.

The position of the Security Council (bar one) will be this: only China, Russia, UK, France, Germany or Iran can lodge a complaint that will trigger snap-back. Any complaint from any other country amounts to nothing more - or less - than abusive shouting from the sidelines.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 3:52 utc | 123

@122 Jackrabbit "USA is arguing that as used in UN2231 "JCPOA Participants" is nothing but a label "defined" to signify the enumerated list of entities. Saying that the label is descriptive only strengthens the use of "JCPOA Participants" as independent of any import/linkage outside of UN2231."

The USA is clearly incorrect to make any claim that UNSCR 2231 "defines" in any way, shape or form who is or is not a "JCPOA Participant".
It does not. UNSCR 2231 is merely "describing" that list of participants, precisely because that list had already come into existence when all those countries (and the EU) signed that document.

Again, this needs to be stressed: for the Security Council to "define" who is or is not a "JCPOA Participant" would require the Council to make a DECISION as to who is in and who is out. And DECISIONS of the Council requires the magic words "Decides that...." or "Deciding that.....".

Which is a phrase you will see multiple times in UNSCR 2231 but, conspicuously, is not used anywhere in Operative Paragraph 10.

Read it again: "Encourages China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union (EU), and Iran (the “JCPOA participants”) to resolve any issues arising with respect to implementation of JCPOA commitments through the procedures specified in the JCPOA, and expresses its intention to address possible complaints by JCPOA participants about significant non-performance by another JCPOA participant;"

The word "encourages" has no force behind it. It compels nobody to do anything. It creates nothing. It "defines" bugger-all.

According to any plain-text reading of that paragraph that list of countries *already* *exists* at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 2231. It must do, because OP10 is directly communicating its "encouragement" to those countries.

And if that list *already* *existed* then its "definition" exists outside of the Security Council.

Which, indeed, it does - participatory membership is entirely an issue for the signatories to the agreement to decide from amongst themselves.

Honestly, this is not rocket science.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 4:04 utc | 124

Yeah, Right @Aug24 4:04 #125

The USA is clearly incorrect to make any claim that UNSCR 2231 "defines" in any way, shape or form who is or is not a "JCPOA Participant".

Trying again to clarify.
  • USA is not claiming that UN 2231 defines who is a JCPOA participant. USA is claiming that UN2231 defines who can use apply for snapback relief.
  • USA are saying that the parenthetic term "JCPOA Participant" is just a shorthand - applicable solely within UN2231(!) - to signify the group that is authorized to apply for snapback relief.
  • The TERM "JCPOA Participant" is defined to be used as a shorthand. And the TERM that they chose to use is the TERM that best described that group - because they were at the time the participants in the JCPOA. That the term is descriptive at all is a mere convenience - they could've called them by any label they please: "Group-A"; "7-Dumbasses"; "hornets nest", etc.
  • According to USA what is PRIMARY is the enumeration of States that can apply for snapback relief, not the parenthetical shorthand which is for convenience only.
  • And according to USA, each document - the JCPOA itself and UN2231 - is separate, has a different purpose, and thus can (and does) use terms in different ways.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 24 2020 4:44 utc | 125

@126 Sorry Jackrabbit, your claim regarding "snapback relief" is wrong.

Absent a complaint *from* a JCPOA Participant then there is no "snapback" and, hence, no need for anyone to seek "relief" from that 30-day ticking clock.

The core of the USA's argument is that it is still one of the Blessed Few whose complaint to the Security Council can - and will - start that clock ticking down.

You have it exactly 180-degrees wrong.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 5:55 utc | 126

Yeah, Right @Aug24 5:55 #127

The core of the USA's argument is that it is still one of the Blessed Few whose complaint to the Security Council can - and will - start that clock ticking down.

Yes. And they say that they are still one of the Blessed Few because they were one of the States that were listed as having that right in UN2231.

=
"Absent a complaint *from* a JCPOA Participant then there is no "snapback" ..."

USA believes that they don't need to be a current participant of JCPOA to exercise the right to submit claims that start the 30-day snapback clock.

Once again, USA claims that they were awarded that right by being explicitly listed as one of the States with that right at the time that UN2231 was enacted.

These Blessed Few were "encouraged" to follow the JCPOA dispute process but that's not available to USA because it's no longer a participant. But USA believes that they retain the right to submit claims to UNSC and start the 30-day snapback clock. Because they are one of the Blessed Few listed as having that right.

There are logical problems with that point of view but one can argue that a plain reading supports it. It's an ambiguity.

=
your claim regarding "snapback relief" is wrong.

You're misunderstanding what I mean by "snapback relief". By "snapback relief" I mean the snapback mechanism that provides relief to a Party that believes that another Party is not fulfilling it's obligations under the JCPOA. I'm not sure what a better word/phrase for that. Maybe "redress?"

<> <> <> <>

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 24 2020 6:36 utc | 127

This is my understanding of the plain meaning of UNSCR 2231 where it relates to "snapback"

OP10: We really hope you boys can play together nice, and that if there are disagreements then you will be able to work it out amongst yourselves without involving us. But we're here if you can't.

OP11: If one of you can't get along with any of the other boys then, sure, OK, complain to us. We'll discuss it amongst ourselves and - hopefully - we'll come to a decision via a new Resolution.

OP12: If we can't do that within 30-days of Mr-Dibby-Dob-Dobber complaining to us then, so sorry, back come the sanctions. Don't blame us, you're getting fair warning.

OP13: Look, we're trying to be reasonable here: if you resolve this amongst yourselves then let us know and we'll stop the clock. Go harm. No drama.

The issue is whether (or not) the plain language of OP10 forever fixes the identity of the Blessed Few who can use OP11 to trigger the killing blow by complaining to the Security Council.

Nothing stops New Zealand from complaining to the UNSC about JCPOA violations. Nothing. But EVERYONE accepts that such a complaint - no matter how well-grounded in fact - can not trigger the 30-day ticking clock.

Equally, EVERYBODY accepts that the same complaint from the UK - no matter how frivolous - would start the 30 day clock ticking.

There is 100% acceptance of both of those propositions.

But what about a complaint from the USA?

Should it go in the same pile as a complaint from NZ?
Or should it go in the same pile as a complaint from Boris Johnson?

That's the cruz of the issue. It is the ONLY point of contention.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 6:37 utc | 128

@128 " I'm not sure what a better word/phrase for that. Maybe "redress?""

Try the word "complaint".


Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 6:38 utc | 129

I agree that the logic for accepting a complaint from USA is faulty. I've said this several times.

Yet I can still see the ambiguity that arises from having named specific countries while not noting explicitly that the list is subject to change. In most cases the ambiguity would be meaningless because few countries have the ability or desire to bully or anger other countries.

USA has the ability to pressure Indonesia or Nigeria to accept USA's interpretation. And then they have the clout to pressure other countries to accept that the UN sanctions have snapped-back. I'd be very surprised if USA hasn't already made arrangements with Indonesia or Nigeria to ensure that USA prevails.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 24 2020 6:55 utc | 130

@131 Jackrabbit "I'd be very surprised if USA hasn't already made arrangements with Indonesia or Nigeria to ensure that USA prevails."

Apparently not....
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-un/thirteen-of-15-member-u-n-security-council-oppose-u-s-push-for-iran-sanctions-idUSKBN25H1Q5

"In the 24 hours since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day countdown to a return of U.N. sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo," ..... "Niger" ..... "Indonesia" ..... "have already written letters in opposition, seen by Reuters."

Looks like the only vote that the USA can hope to snare is the Dominican Republic, and that country had its turn in the big chair back in April.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 7:21 utc | 131

I fully expect the other council members to refuse to table an agenda for a resolution vote or at least not get the required 9 votes, the US will act & believe as if the snapback 30 days countdown is running & then claim no resolution was adopted therefore after 30 days the sanctions have snapped back. The other members will reject this saying US never had legal standing to trigger in first place so we end up with a split UNSC.
US will unilaterally sanction any country selling arms although to what extent Russia or China complies is uncertain. The problem also for Iran is that if the US acts alone behaving as if the snapback is legal they could intercept Irans oil tankers saying they are in violation. We have a terrible legal mess & the UN is greatly undermined

Posted by: Cicero | Aug 24 2020 11:33 utc | 132

@133 Cicero It is not just a matter of arms embargo. The snapback will apply to all UNSC sanctions that were applied to Iran prior to the signing of the JCPOA. Those sanctions crippled Iranian foreign trade, exports and imports.

But, irrespective, intercepting Iranian ships on the high seas is going to be illegal, full stop, absent an armed conflict between the USA and Iran.

The preceding UNSCR 1929 that would be the "snap back" position w.r.t. sanctions contains these paragraphs (my capitals):

"Recalling that the law of the sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), sets out the legal framework applicable to ocean activities, "

"Calls upon all States to inspect, in accordance with their national authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea and relevant international civil aviation agreements, all cargo to and from Iran, IN THEIR TERRITORY, including seaports and airports, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 3, 4 or 7 of resolution 1737 (2006), paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007), paragraph 8 of resolution 1803 (2008) or paragraphs 8 or 9 of this resolution, for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions; "

"Notes that States, consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea, may REQUEST inspections of vessels on the high seas WITH THE CONSENT OF THE FLAG STATE, and calls upon all States to cooperate in such inspections if there is information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the vessel is carrying items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 3, 4 or 7 of resolution 1737 (2006), paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007), paragraph 8 of resolution 1803 (2008) or paragraphs 8 or 9 of this resolution, for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions;"

That's pretty unambiguous: the USA can claim that "snapback" gives it the right to seize Iranian "sanction-busting" material if any is found within its territory (highly unlikely, of course) and it can *ask* to inspect shipping on the high seas, but it can't seize ships or cargo *unless* the flag carrier agrees to such seizure.

And in the current climate it is not at all a given that any flag state will agree to such a request.

Basically, even under "snap back" the freedom of the seas trumps anything Pompeo can claim. If nobody agrees with the USA's position (and, let's face it, nobody does) then they are not going to agree to the US Navy boarding their ships on the high seas and seizing their cargo.

And absent such agreement then forcing its way onto those ships is nothing more - and no less than - piracy on the high seas.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 24 2020 12:20 utc | 133

Yeah, Right

Yankistan isn't part of UNCLOS. As karlof1 terms it "The outlaw empire".

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 24 2020 12:57 utc | 134

@Yeah Right

Thats good to know US cant touch Iranian tankers then on the high sea, as for the arms issue I expect them to sanction Russia or China if they set up deals with Iran or perhaps pressure them not to sell certain types of equipment. They may even offer them something in return not to do so.

Posted by: Cicero | Aug 24 2020 12:59 utc | 135

Nobody reads old pages, so I'm replying here.
As this is an open thread, I hope my post is tolerable.

In the "U.S. Will Sanction Other Countries" thread...

@Kadath | Aug 22 2020 4:51 utc | 60

[US dumping the United Nations and forming its own parallel organization]

In an attempt to form a new alternative to the United Nations, the US could get little support and risks looking totally ridiculous.

Remember, the US lost overwhelmingly, 9-128, in the UN General Assembly on the question of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital (December 21, 2017). This despite Nikki Haley (remember her?) threatening to "take names". Even the European countries voted against the US (although Poland may have chosen to abstain).

So there's a very real risk that if the US huffs and puffs and threatens to blow the UN up, the rest of the world might refuse to join the proposed new organization. And the US would have to crawl back, very humiliatingly, to the United Nations.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 24 2020 19:47 utc | 136

@Cyril | Aug 24 2020 19:47 utc | 137

[Comment for open thread]

Oops, reposted to the real open thread.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 24 2020 19:51 utc | 137

It's not Pompeo; although he couldn't be more pleased to be the enforcer. It's Zionist Trump pulling this shet and calling the shots on Iran. He's an obsessed Iranophobe nutjob. Haven't you figured this out yet in almost 4 years? Oh yeah, I know: Putin loves Trump. So musn't equate Trump with stupid, backward policy. Ergo, let's pretend Pompeo's in charge instead. 🙄

Posted by: Circe | Aug 24 2020 21:26 utc | 138

Another thing worth some discussion is this part:

... and expresses its intention to address possible complaints by JCPOA participants about significant non-performance by another JCPOA participant;

Now that USA has made a complaint to UNSC, the complaints by other JCPOA participants become relevant to the UNSC. Even though the other participants are following the dispute resolution process specified by JCPOA their complaints support the US notification made to UNSC.

Thus, while the wording of possible complaints infers some discretion in recognizing a complaint as justified, the fact that a number of other JCPOA participation have similar complaints means that the US notification almost certainly clears the hurdle of a valid complaint(s).

So the only question is whether USA has standing a state that is mentioned in UNSC but not a currently active participant.

<> <> <> <> <> <>

The Europeans withdrew support for JCPOA due to pressure from Washington. Then they made complaints (following JCPOA procedure) that are now effectively supporting USA's notification to UNSC.

They didn't have to file those complaints. They could've recognized that Iran's slow and deliberate steps were a reaction to USA + European noncompliance. In fact, IIRC Iran had said that they would return to compliance when/if the Europeans actually supported JCPOA.

It seems to be that the JCPOA 'died' many months ago. Snapback will just make that explicit.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 24 2020 23:52 utc | 139

@140 "It seems to be that the JCPOA 'died' many months ago. Snapback will just make that explicit."

No, untrue. The Iranians have said time and time again that they have undertaken activities that are in retaliation for violations of the JCPOA by other parties, and that every single on of their steps is easily reversible i.e. if you come back into compliance with the agreement then we will too.

Iran has always given fair warning that it would pursue that path, explicitly noted by the UN Security Council in OP13 of Resolution 2231:
..."and notes Iran’s statement that if the provisions of previous resolutions are applied pursuant to paragraph 12 in whole or in part, Iran will treat this as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA;"

It is simply untrue to say that the JCPOA "died" many months ago.

Only one party has repudiated the agreement, and as far as the other parties are concerned it has been moribund for quite a while, sure, but it is not dead.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Aug 25 2020 1:55 utc | 140

Yeah, Right @Aug25 1:55 #141:

The Iranians have said time and time again that they have undertaken activities that are in retaliation for violations of the JCPOA by other parties, and that every single on of their steps is easily reversible

Yeah, I noted this.

Maybe I should've said: "died in all but name".

The only reason for the Iranians to remain in JCPOA was to get the UN sanctions permanently lifted. But that was never going to happen. USA had this UN2231 notification trick up their sleeve the whole time. And the Europeans stopped any meaningful trade with Iran a long time ago.

It's not certain that the Europeans and Americans worked together on this outcome. But we can see that the Europeans HAD TO stop trading with Iran so that Iran would carry-thru their threat of limited violations. And the Europeans HAD TO complain about those violations to vitiate the US notification to UNSC.

Here's the rub: Europeans are also not "agreement capable". Whether the worked with Americans explicitly or innocently succumbed to American pressure, they are incapable of acting against US or Israeli interests.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 25 2020 12:51 utc | 141

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