Britain, France, and Germany Spurn US Plan for Iran Sanctions

US intends to enforce UN Security Council resolution that is not in effect

Trump Administration officials have been saying this for weeks, but on Friday reiterated their intentions to try to enforce a UN Security Council resolution that includes broad sanctions against Iran. Officials say they expect every nation to comply.

The glaring problem with this is that the resolution doesn’t exist, at least not as an active resolution the US wants. The P5+1 nuclear deal gave the US the authority to reimpose sanctions on Iran, but the US had withdrawn from that pact years ago. Though the Trump Administration argued that didn’t matter, the UN has virtually unanimously rejected their interpretation, and rejected the UN Security Council resolution. The US believes the resolution becomes active Sunday, but the reality is it just doesn’t exist legally.

Reality doesn’t seem to matter to the administration in this case, and they say they’re going to enforce the whole thing unilaterally. The problem is that the only nations even nominally on board with this are nations that weren’t trading with Iran in the first place.

China and Russia were already clear they weren’t on board, and now the rest of the permanent UN Security Council members, Britain, France, and Germany, have told the Security Council Friday that there is no legal effect to what the US says, and that they will continue to promise sanctions relief to Iran after September 20.

While this is a vindication to the nuclear deal, and a blow to US intentions, it remains to be seen what this will amount to for the European nations, as they’ve struggled to ensure sanctions relief for Iran in the first place.

Though the US unilateral sanctions have no legal effect in the EU, the US threats have been enough to prevent European banks from financing deals, which has all but precluded anyone from trading with them. Though the EU has promised a clearing house to bypass the banks, it has had little impact, which remains a sore spot for Iran.

The US enforcement starting Sunday is just the tip of the iceberg, as on October 18 the Iran arms embargo will expire, and the US has vowed to enforce that too as though it still exists. Russian and Chinese arms companies are expected to open up sales to Iran shortly after that date, despite US threats.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.