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Iran says US move to reimpose snapback sanctions is a 'false claim'

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has said that the imminent reimposition of UN sanctions against Tehran is a “false claim” by Washington that it knows will not happen.

Speaking on state television on Saturday, Zarif said there was not mechanism for the US to enforce its controversial “snapback”, and warned that other countries would be subjected to the same treatment if they did not resist America’s move.

“The Americans claim that ... within a few hours, the resolutions [sanctions] will return. But they themselves realise that this is a false claim,” Zarif said.

“The Americans as a rule act as a bully and impose sanction ... The world community should decide how to act towards bullying,” Zarif said, hours before the US move was due to take effect.

“As they (other countries) will face the same thing tomorrow when America takes the same action towards the Nord Stream project, as well as other projects because a bully will continue to act as a bully if he is allowed to do it once,” Zarif said. The US and many European countries oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which they say will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

US officials said on Saturday that “all UN sanctions on Iran” will be reimposed from midnight GMT.

It relies on the controversial move known as the “snapback” mechanism announced by the US, which it claims can allow any of the partners to the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement to reimpose UN sanctions if Tehran violates its obligations under the deal.

But the US has faced widespread rejection, especially from major partners Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, given that Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran.

After about a year, Iran responded by backing away from some of its nuclear obligations in the agreement.

Washington currently insists it is still a participant to the agreement, even though it left, so it can activate the “snapback” option.

“The Americans claim that ... within a few hours, the resolutions (sanctions) will return. But they themselves realise that this is a false claim,” Zarif said.

The US knows that UN sanctions will not return “so they have resorted to bullying, and said they will sanction anyone who sells weapons to Iran”.

Zarif stressed that “there is no thing called ‘snapback’. There is no automatic mode. It’s not like anyone who’s had a fight with their mother can up and create a ‘snapback’ mechanism.”

In mid-August, the US suffered a resounding defeat at the UN security council when it tried to “indefinitely” extend an arms embargo on Tehran that starts to expire in October.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo accused allies Britain, France and Germany of “siding with Iran’s ayatollahs” when they refused to extend the embargo.

“Pompeo believes this is a simple mechanism ... it is not,” Zarif said, accusing him of not having read the UN security council resolutions or the agreement’s text.

“He’s now probably waiting for JCPOA’s movie to come out so he would know what it is,” he added, referring to the deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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