The ministers of foreign affairs and other officials from the P5+1 countries, the European Union and Iran while announcing the framework of a Comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. (United States Department of State/ Wikimedia Commons)

Russia, China Seeking to Protect Iran from UN Sanctions

Russia and China have launched a diplomatic campaign to derail an effort by the United States to trigger “snapback” United Nations sanctions on Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, both sent letters to representatives of the 15-member UN Security Council and to Secretary General Antonio Guterres arguing that Washington had no legal basis to act given President Donald Trump’s decision two-plus years ago to withdraw from a 2015 deal involving Iranian nuclear research. Lavrov cited in his missive an obscure 1971 International Court of Justice opinion stating that “a party which disowns or does not fulfill its own obligations [in international relations] cannot be recognized as retaining the rights which it claims to derive from the relationship.” The White House has threatened to trigger the sanctions, which were lifted as part of the nuclear accord, if the Security Council does not extend an arms embargo on Tehran that is due to expire in October as per the 2015 agreement. Moscow and Beijing have both indicated that they would veto any resolution to this effect. According to the nuclear deal, which was enshrined in a Security Council resolution, UN penalties can be re-imposed on the Islamic Republic if it violates the pact. The country has admitted to doing so, foremost by vastly exceeding the limit the agreement placed on the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile.

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