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21 Sep, 2020 16:25

Americans had talent in diplomacy but they've lost it, Russian FM Lavrov says, as US triggers ‘null and void’ Iran sanctions

Americans had talent in diplomacy but they've lost it, Russian FM Lavrov says, as US triggers ‘null and void’ Iran sanctions

US diplomacy is turning into the not-so-subtle art of making demands and ultimatums, Sergey Lavrov has lamented, as the Americans go it alone in restoring anti-Iran sanctions under a 2015 deal that no longer legally applies.

Washington’s reasoning behind bringing back the UN sanctions against Iran looks “funny,” as the majority of UN Security Council members – 13 out of 15 – do not support activating the ‘snapback’ mechanism, the Russian Foreign Minister  said, in an exclusive interview with the Al Arabiya news channel.

The council “clearly stated that there is no legal position or moral reasons for anything close to the snapback and all the statements to the contrary are null and void,” he reminded his audience. The ‘snapback’ issue leaves Washington at loggerheads with even its closest allies.

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Earlier on Sunday, the three European signatories to the Iran deal – Germany, France and the UK – stated the return of the sanctions will have no legal effect whatsoever.

However, the Trump administration continues to insist Washington now has the authority to target any country breaching the “re-imposed” sanctions. For Lavrov, this is telling, in terms of understanding the quality of US diplomacy.

The Americans lost any talent in diplomacy, unfortunately; they used to have excellent experts, [but] now what they’re doing in foreign policy is to put a demand on the table, whether they’re discussing Iran or anything else.

If their counterpart disagrees and refuses to toe the line, “they put an ultimatum, they give a deadline and then they impose sanctions, then they make the sanctions extra-territorial.” Regrettably, the European Union also “is engaging in the same tricks more and more,” Lavrov noted.

On Saturday, Washington moved to bring back sweeping UN sanctions against Tehran, insisting it was acting within its own right to do so as an original party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 pact Iran sealed with major world powers. The US left the deal in 2018 following a decision by President Donald Trump.

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“I can only remind them that they should respect the hierarchy of the American administration, because their boss, President Trump, has personally signed an official decree withdrawing the United States from the JCPOA,” Lavrov added sarcastically.

Sanctions aside, Washington is also busy trying to prevent the lifting of the UN arms embargo on Iran, set to expire on October 18. This endeavor doesn’t make much sense either, the Russian minister commented. “There is no such thing as an arms embargo against Iran,” he clarified. The UN Security Council reiterated the embargo will end on that date, and “there would be no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe.”

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