United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he cannot take any action on the US’ claim that all UN sanctions on Iran had been reimposed due to uncertainty regarding the issue.

Iran PressAmerica: “There would appear to be uncertainty whether or not the process ... was indeed initiated and concomitantly whether or not the (sanctions) terminations ... continue in effect,” Guterres wrote in a letter to the council on Saturday, seen by Reuters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he triggered a 30-day process at the council leading to the return of UN sanctions on Iran on Saturday evening that would also stop a conventional arms embargo on Tehran from expiring on Oct 18.

But 13 of the 15 Security Council members say Washington’s move is void because Pompeo used a mechanism agreed under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the United States quit in 2018.

“It is not for the Secretary-General to proceed as if no such uncertainty exists,” he said.

UN officials provide administrative and technical support to the Security Council to implement its sanctions regimes and Guterres appoints independent experts to monitor implementation. 

He said that 'pending clarification' of the status of the Iran sanctions, he would not take any action to provide that support.

Washington alleges it triggered the return of sanctions - known as 'snapback' - because a UN resolution that enshrines the pact still names it as a participant. Diplomats say few countries are likely to reimpose the measures lifted under the 2015 deal.

Pompeo also threatened the other UN Member States in a statement on Saturday, saying: “If UN Member States fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures.”

He said that in the coming days, Washington would announce additional measures to strengthen the implementation of the UN sanctions and hold violators accountable. 

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy responded on Twitter: “We all clearly said in August that the US claims to trigger snapback are illegitimate. Is Washington deaf?”

Longtime US allies Britain, France, and Germany told the council on Friday that UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue and that any decision or action is taken to reimpose UN sanctions would be incapable of legal effect.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi said on Twitter on Saturday: “US illegal and false deadline has come and gone ... Swimming against international currents will only bring it more isolation.”

Takht-Ravanchi called the US’ claim on the return of the UN sanctions against Iran as 'null and void,’ and said: "The UN and its Security Council should block any attempt to reinstate the bans."

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