Security Council Leader Rejects U.S. Demand for U.N. Sanctions on Iran

The president of the Security Council said the Trump administration’s lonely insistence on restoring United Nations sanctions against Iran is headed nowhere, and the U.S. ambassador accused fellow diplomats of having “lost their way.”

The confrontation heightened the sense of American isolation at the United Nations under President Trump, whose administration has withdrawn from a number of U.N. bodies and agreements, even as the United States government remains the biggest single contributor to the 193-member organization’s budget. The escalating tensions could portend further U.S. clashes with other members during the annual U.N. General Assembly meetings next month.

Less than a week ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to United Nations headquarters in New York to personally deliver his government’s intention to restore the sanctions under the so-called snapback provision of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, a pact that was endorsed by a Security Council resolution. Mr. Trump renounced the nuclear agreement two years ago, calling it worthless, and has imposed unilateral sanctions that have badly damaged Iran’s economy.

Other Security Council members, including veto-wielding members Britain, China, France and Russia, have said the United States has no legal standing to enforce the snapback provision, since it is no longer a party to the nuclear agreement.

But Tuesday was the first time that the council president, Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani of Indonesia, stated publicly that in his view, the American effort to reimpose U.N. sanctions was effectively rejected.

“Having contacted the members and received letters from many member countries it is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views,” he said toward the end of a regularly scheduled meeting on the Middle East.

“In my view there is no consensus in the council,” Mr. Djani said. Referring to himself, he said that as a result, “the president is not in the position to take further action.”

The American effort to invoke the snapback provision came a week after Security Council diplomats had dealt another embarrassing setback to the United States, rejecting its proposed resolution to extend an embargo on arms sales to Iran, which is scheduled to expire Oct. 18.

The American ambassador, Kelly Craft, responded on Tuesday with an angry denunciation of what she described as an affront to a principled American stand against Iran, which the Trump administration calls a leading sponsor of terrorism.

“History is replete of tragedies of appeasing regimes such as this one, that for decades have kept its own people under its thumb,” she said.

“The Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter, in light of the unmistakable truth guiding our actions,” she said. “I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”

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