In a letter to the UN Security Council seen by Reuters, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that he cannot take any action on the US declaring the reinstatement of all UN sanctions against Iran due to what he described as uncertainty related to the issue.
“There would appear to be uncertainty whether or not the process […] was indeed initiated and concomitantly whether or not the [sanctions] terminations […] continue in effect. It is not for the Secretary-General to proceed as if no such uncertainty exists”, Guterres pointed out.
The remarks come as Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh hit out at the US over its anti-Iranian sanctions-related announcement, urging the White House to reconcile with the international community and get back to observing its legal commitments.
“Tehran's message to Washington is clear — return to the international community, act in accordance with your obligations and stop the rebellion. In this case, the international community will accept you [Washington]”, Khatibzadeh said in a statement earlier on Sunday.
He also described the actions as making the US appear as "the biggest threat to peace and international security", also insisting that claims about the restoration of the sanctions are false, as no such developments have taken place at the UN Security Council.
The statement was echoed by that of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which accused the US of continuing to mislead the international community by “speculating that the UN Security Council conducted some sort of procedures to restore the effect of UNSC resolutions on Iran sanctions, which were cancelled after the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)”, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“The facts are that the UN Security Council did not take any action that would lead to the restoration of old sanctions against Iran. All that Washington does is nothing more than a theatrical performance staged in order to subordinate the Security Council to its policy of 'maximum pressure' on Iran and turn this authoritative body into its handy tool”, the ministry stressed, calling on Washington to "stop speaking on behalf of the UN Security Council”.
This was preceded by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing on Saturday that all UN sanctions against Iran were "back in effect" under the “snapback” mechanism of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was featured in the JCPOA. Pompeo vowed that UN member states would face "consequences" if they refused to implement the sanctions.
This followed the US special envoy on Iran, Elliott Abrams, saying on Wednesday that Washington would impose the "full force" of its sanctions on any arms producer dealing with Iran once the US reaches its goal of reinstating a UN Arms Embargo on Tehran.
The draft resolution, however, did not receive sufficient support for its adoption by the Security Council, with Tehran warning that an arms embargo extension would mean the death of the nuclear deal.
The developments came amid US-Iranian tensions, which have persisted since the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 that prompted Iran to scale back on its commitments under the accord.