With just weeks left in his first term, President Donald Trump is taking a hatchet to what’s left of Barack Obama’s legacy.
The Washington Examiner reports that Trump wants to “snapback” United Nations sanctions against Iran that were suspended by Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“Today, I am directing the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to notify the UN Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the previously suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran,” Trump said Wednesday, according to the Examiner.
Trump makes his move
As the Examiner reported, Trump’s move would restore what was status quo before Obama’s Iran deal gave sanctions relief to the Iranian regime in exchange for limitations on its nuclear ambitions.
Somewhat ironically, Trump is seeking to do this by invoking the Iran deal, which he pulled the United States out of in 2018, following through on a campaign promise to end what he called the “worst deal ever.” The deal allows for any member of the pact to call for a “snapback” of international sanctions if Iran reneges on its commitments.
The decision comes after what the State Department calls the “inexcusable failure” of the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran.
“Thirty days after Secretary Pompeo’s notification, a range of UN sanctions will be restored, including the requirement that Iran suspend all enrichment-related activities,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus explained in a statement on the matter, according to the Examiner. “This will also extend the 13-year arms embargo on Iran.”
Iran deal on the brink?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York on Thursday to follow through, but he will likely face resistance from other members of the pact. As Ortagus alluded, other members of the Security Council have 30 days to stop the “snapback,” but America is one of five nations with a veto, as the BBC notes.
According to NBC News, the Iran deal’s other signatories — China, Russia, Britain, Germany, and France — argue that Trump’s move is not legitimate, since he already pulled out of the agreement. It’s a viewpoint echoed by Iran and, oddly enough, Iran hawk John Bolton.
“At least he is consistent — a trait notably absent in this U.S. administration,” Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said of Bolton Sunday, adding that the U.S. has “no leg to stand on,” according to NBC.
The pact remains in a moribund state after President Trump departed sharply from the course set by his predecessor, triggering an escalation in tensions that has seen Iran flout limitations on its uranium, NBC notes.
As Iran pulls back from its commitments and the deal continues to unravel, Trump’s latest decision could be the final nail in the coffin for Obama’s landmark agreement.