‘Snapback’ sanctions on Iran could make up for UN Security Council’s error

‘Snapback’ sanctions on Iran could make up for UN Security Council’s error

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The Iranian tanker ‘Fortune’ at El Palito refinery dock in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, May 25, 2020. (Reuters)

The UN Security Council last week rejected a draft resolution submitted by the US to extend the arms embargo imposed on Iran, which is due to expire in October. This was a major mistake.

The world was supposed to unite in confronting the premier country in terms of support for terrorism and the only nation in the world that possesses militias and terrorist organizations numbering in the hundreds. Iran has provided such groups with advanced weaponry, even ballistic missiles, which threaten the security and stability of the world generally and the Middle East in particular. Tehran does not respect diplomatic laws and norms.

Iran, in addition to its shameful record on terrorism, has a repressive record that does not take into account human rights inside or outside its borders. Iran is ranked second in the world when it comes to executions, with its famous cranes being a tool for hanging those citizens who disagree with the regime politically. The horrors of this country also include its rigging of elections and use of a terrorist militia called the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which does not stop planning evil or financing and training terrorist militias. Above all, it has a ballistic missile program that worries the world and the region, besides its nuclear program, which could turn the Middle East into a battlefield if it was to succeed and make everyone look to obtain a nuclear bomb.

How could a country like this be allowed to have its ban on weapons imports lifted? Is the purpose only for material gain from selling weapons, without a thought of how it will use them? Is the Security Council rewarding terrorists instead of punishing them? Is it really a “security council” or a council of war, devastation and destruction?

Those countries that voted against lifting the ban are partners in Tehran’s criminality and are legitimizing its terrorism, killings and destruction. Millions of people have suffered from Tehran’s terror in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere. But soon Iran could have more tools of death and destruction. The region and the world will not forget that the Security Council is no longer the same, and many of those who have issues and disputes will instead solve their problems outside of its framework because they no longer trust this council or its decisions.

In any case, the free world that is genuinely fighting terrorism has to line up and activate its mechanisms to confront this danger. It must respond to Tehran and its supporters and make them lose.

The US will work on the principle of the “snapback” mechanism, meaning the “automatic return of sanctions,” as stipulated in Security Council resolution 2231. This mechanism allows any of the signatory countries to the nuclear agreement to submit a complaint to the UN if Iran violates any of the terms of the deal. It also allows member states to unilaterally reapply all the international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal.

With the end of the arms embargo only two months away, the US government wants Iran to suspend all enrichment-related activities, including research and development, and ban the import of anything that contributes to those activities. In addition, Iran will be prevented from developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and sanctions will be reimposed on dozens of individuals and entities. Countries will also be urged to inspect shipments to and from Iran and will obtain permits to confiscate any prohibited shipment.

As well as the banning of oil and gas exports, sanctions will be imposed on exports such as petrochemicals, which have become the only outlet for the ailing Iranian economy, as its currency is witnessing a historic collapse and the disruption of industry has led to continuous strikes and protests.

It is also necessary to implement “snapback-plus,” by which I mean confronting Tehran, tightening the screws on it economically and preventing it from selling oil to buy weapons. For example, Washington last week announced that it had confiscated the loads of four Iranian oil tankers that were destined for Venezuela, estimated at about 1.1 million barrels in total. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the proceeds from the forfeiture would “support the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund instead of those engaging in terrorism, like the (IRGC).” This is one of the methods that must be used, along with preventing it from getting the revenues it currently earns from its trade with Iraq, such as from supplying its neighbor with electricity and smuggling oil through the country, which are the lungs that allow it to breathe.

Those countries that voted against lifting the ban are partners in Tehran’s criminality.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri

Likewise, there must be restrictions placed on Iran’s activities in Latin America via Hezbollah, which has links to drug trafficking and contraband, and the Venezuelan-Iranian cooperation in the field of oil, which is offset by Venezuelan gold.

One of Tehran’s most important weapons that has to be dismantled and destroyed is its terrorist militias in the region, which are Iran’s spearhead. There is currently a favorable opportunity for the return of security and stability in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen if Iran’s proxies are confronted and dismantled.

While the Security Council votes in favor of Tehran, most of the region and the US must change the equation on the ground in order to achieve international peace and security, and confront Tehran’s terrorism and its militias.

  • Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar. Twitter: @DrHamsheri
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