It is legal charade to claim right out of US name in Resolution 2231: ex-diplomat

TEHRAN, May 11 (MNA) – A former diplomat says it is legally “absurd” that the US claims it is still a participant to the 2015 nuclear deal just because its name is mentioned in UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the pact.

“It is definitely a legal charade to claim any right out of the US name in a UNSC resolution,” Kourosh Ahmadi tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

The Trump administration is making such an argument to extend arms embargo against Iran which expires in October based on Resolution 2231.

“The resolution is one legal whole that the US either embraces or abandons,” Ahmadi asserts.

Following is the text of the interview:

The US has made a claim that it is a participant to the nuclear deal. How do you assess such an argument?

This is absurd. Legally speaking, the US government at the highest level and in the most explicit way ceased to participate in the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provided for by the “Presidential Memorandum” issued by President Trump on 8 May 2018.  In terms of this formal document, entitled “ceasing United States Participation in the JCPOA”, the US withdrew from the deal. Subsequently, the restoration of the lifted or waived secondary sanctions against Iran and the US ceasing to participate in the JCPOA Joint Commission were two major legal consequences of this withdrawal, which consummated it. 

The US is claiming it has the right to ask the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo because its name is mentioned in Resolution 2231 which has endorsed the JCPO? What is your analysis?

This is right that UNSC resolution 2231 is a UN document. But the US president’s move to cease participating in the JCPOA has superseded all the references in the resolution to the US participation in the JCPOA and made it null and void. It is definitely a legal charade to claim any right out of the US name in a UNSC resolution, which was included under completely different circumstances. Moreover, the resolution is one legal whole that the US either embraces or abandons. Cherry-picking a document without any regard for its entirety is ridiculous. The resolution begins by endorsing the JCPOA and urging all states to fully implement it. One cannot take one paragraph out of a 154-page document and wishes to only implement it and contravene the rest. 

Such an argument is made as the US has reportedly proposed a draft resolution to put to vote at the UN Security Council to extend arms embargo against Iran which will expire in October based on Resolution 2231. How do you analyze such argument from a legal point of view?

Any member of the Security Council is entitled to submit a draft resolution and elicit the views of the other members of the Council. The problem is that, based on the US maneuvering and machinations in past days, it appears that the US seeks to push its draft resolution by threatening the Council by wielding the so-called snapback mechanism and having the Council members choose between the lesser bad (extending the arms embargo) and bad (the triggering of the snapback mechanism to revive the terminated Security Council resolutions against Iran) options. The latter is a false threat and should not deceive anybody. Because the US, which is not anymore a JCPOA participant has no legal right to trigger the snapback mechanism. Any US attempt in this area would aggravate the relationship between big powers and inflict a damage to the Council, resulting in weakening it with long-lasting consequences. 

Diplomats, including Europeans, and analysts have predicted that such a move will most probably face resistance by Russia or China as veto-wielding powers. Yet, there are reports that say if the move is aborted the US side can call for “snapback” sanctions and return the previous UN sanctions resolutions. Is it technically or legally possible?

Other members of the council should indeed fail the US attempt in this area. It is not an issue that solely concerns Iran. Any country wishing to maintain and strengthen international law and help advance the rule of law at the international level has a stake in the encounter that will unfold in the Security Council in the coming weeks and months. A win for the US in its attempt to undermine the Iranian security and interest will come later to haunt every UN member state and will represent a backward move in the investment in building a just and equitable world order.

Do you believe that a prolongation of arms embargo is synonymous with the complete death of the JCPOA?

Apart from the normalization of the Iranian economic relation with the outside world, which was the major benefit for Iran from the JCPOA, the terminating of the arms embargo against Iran in October and the removal of the limitations on Iran’s missile program in 2023 and the abandon of the restriction on Iran’s peaceful atomic energy program in 2025 were to be the other benefits Iran was to enjoy in the course of the JCPOA’s implementation.

Depriving Iran of these benefits wouldn’t come with no consequences. Apart from leaving the JCPOA, Iranian officials have already talked about the possibility of withdrawing from the NPT as well. Thus the international community should understand that if the US could have its way in the Council, they could expect everything to happen in the wider Middle East.

Do you agree with such a view that if the remaining parties to the JCPOA fail to halt the US move, Iran should completely abandon the agreement or even suspend its adherence to the NPT? 

It is difficult to answer this question at this point in time. We have to see how things will proceed and what would be the result and especially how other big and lesser big will react to the US moves. If Iran notes a genuine effort by the international community towards blocking the US attempts and Iran’s benefits from the JCPOA will be still substantial, the situation will be much different and may require some adjustment of Iran’s position.

First Time Published in Tehran Times.

Interview by M.A. Saki

News Code 158583

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