The 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and Western powers included a provision that would allow the United Nations to reimpose the drastic sanctions on Iran if they were found to be in violation of the deal.
This “snapback” provision was touted by President Obama as a fail-safe mechanism to ensure Iran’s compliance.
And finally, Iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments. Before getting sanctions relief, Iran has to take significant, concrete steps like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile. If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own. On the other hand, if Iran abides by the deal and its economy begins to reintegrate with the world, the incentive to avoid snapback will only grow.
Sounds simple. The New York Times referred to the snapback provision as “an easy way” to reimpose penalties on Iran.
Instead, the snapback mechanism allows any of the six world powers that negotiated the deal to flag what it considers a violation. They would submit their concerns to a dispute resolution panel. If those concerns remained unresolved, the sanctions would automatically resume after 30 days, or “snap back.” According to the draft Security Council resolution, this means that the previous penalties “shall apply in the same manner as they applied before.”
As it turns out, that “dispute resolution panel” can take up to six months to examine any evidence. Not much of a “snapback,” huh?
What made the snapback provision worthless was the cynical acceptance of it by the Security Council. A 10-year-old child could see that sanctions would never be reimposed by the world. The commercial deals Iran signed with Germany, France, and Great Britain were worth billions of dollars. No nation on earth would willingly give that up.
So the key is UN cooperation. Without other nations playing the same role they played before 2015, when sanctions were hurting Iran very badly, not much will change.
Donald Trump wants to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. It’s not going to happen and it only reveals the hollowness, the dishonesty, the cynicism of Barack Obama, who knowingly and deliberately looked the American people in the eye and lied about the nuclear deal with Iran.
“Today I am directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all the previously suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran,” the president said in a news conference with reporters. “It’s a snapback.”
But there’s a complication. Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement in May of 2018. Can he ask the UN to initiate a snapback to an agreement that the U.S. isn’t part of anymore?
Invoking snapback will also trigger a battle at the U.N. over whether the U.S. can move forward with “snapback.” While Russia, China and other members of the JCPoA are clamoring to look for ways to halt snapback it would seem they are fighting a losing battle.
“Having withdrawn from the JCPoA, the U.S. is no longer a JCPoA participant and therefore ineligible to demand the Security Council invoke a snapback,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement on Friday.
Whatever happened to the unilateral ability of the United States to simply declare the sanctions “snapped back” without a vote at the UN? America can trigger snapback on our own, said Barack Obama.
That’s not going to happen. It was never going to happen. Obama knew it wouldn’t happen at the time but said it would happen.
The pro-Iranian bloc in Congress who made the deal possible because they pretended to believe Obama’s “assurances” about Iran’s intentions and sanctions “snapbacks” should hang their heads in shame over the evil they have wrought.