Earlier, the Trump administration voiced its opposition to the UN Security Council rejection to extend an arms embargo against Iran. Despite the UNSC decision, Washington asserted that it would stick to its promise to "stop at nothing" to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons on the international market.

US President Donald Trump stated during a press conference Saturday that the United States "will be doing a snapback" of a sanctions mechanism against Iran, after the UN Security Council rejected an extension to the US arms embargo on the country.

Answering a question "When will you trigger a snapback of sanctions on Iran?", Trump said: "Well, we knew what the vote was going to be, but we'll be doing a snapback. You'll be watching it next week".

The "snapback mechanism," referred to by Trump is a dispute-solving mechanism provided for in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It envisaged reimposing penalties on Iran in case it violated the nuclear commitments under the deal and if the concerns raised by a signatory were not resolved in 30 days by a dispute-resolution panel.

Since the so-called snapback was envisaged in the JCPOA, which Trump unilaterally exited in 2018, many experts believe that the White House cannot use the mechanism.

Trump on Putin's Suggestion of Summit on Iran

Trump was also asked whether he would participate in a video summit on Iran proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to which he said "Probably not. I think we would wait until after the election".

The Russian president offered his initiative on Friday, suggesting "an online meeting of the heads of states that are permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as leaders of Germany and Iran as soon as possible". According to Putin, the goal of the online summit would be to "avoid confrontation, escalation in the UNSC".

"We suggest using the leaders' meeting to agree to the parameters of a joint work on forming reliable mechanisms of building trust and ensuring security in the Persian Gulf," Putin said in offering the summit.

The Russia leader's suggestion came shortly after the UN Security Council refused to adopt as US resolution on the extension of the embargo against Tehran, resulting condemnation from the Trump administration. The White House reiterated its commitment to "stop at nothing" to prevent Tehran from purchasing or selling weapons on the international market, claiming that the UN decision was a "mistake" that would lead to "major conflict".

The arms embargo against Iran is set to expire 18 October under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - an agreement also known as the Iran nuclear deal, signed between Iran, the United States, China, France, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

In 2018, Trump reimposed US sanctions on Tehran after unilaterally leaving the agreement, causing Tehran to step away from the JCPOA commitment to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for sanction relief.

Graham: UNSC Rejection of Iran Arms Embargo Extension 'Makes Major Conflict Much More Likely'

The US resolution, envisaging an extension of an arms embargo against Iran, was rejected by the UN Security Council, drawing disappointment from Washington, as the Trump administration claimed that it would nonetheless continue its attempts to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons on the international market.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham denounced the UN Security Council rejection of an extension of the Iran arms embargo, saying that the UN made a "major mistake". 

He also asserted that the failure to extend the embargo "makes a major conflict with Iran much more likely".

"The United Nations Security Council overwhelmingly rejected an extension of the Iranian arms embargo. This was a major mistake by the UN. It also makes a major conflict with Iran much more likely as they build up their military arsenal", Graham tweeted Saturday.

The resolution aiming at extending the arms embargo against Tehran - set to expire in October - was rejected by the UNSC on Friday with only two supportive votes, drawing condemnation from Washington, as the Trump administration maintained its promise to "stop at nothing" to keep the embargo in place.

October will mark the end of the embargo, which expires under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that envisaged Iran scaling down its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The Trump administration insists that the embargo be extended.

US Efforts to Extend Arms Embargo

The rejected US resolution suggested that parts of Resolution 2231, which established the JCPOA, continue until the UNSC cancels them. Among those, there were provisions that prohibited Iran from purchasing tanks, artillery systems, combat aircraft, missiles and other weapons without UNSC permission, and envisaged sanctions against those who bypassed the provisions.

Iran, Russia and China have opposed an indefinite embargo, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov outlined that the initial arms restrictions were put on Iran to ensure that the original JCPOA agreements are met, and there was never any intention to prolong them after October 2020. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed efforts by the White House to extend the embargo, arguing that the Trump administration is "so desperate to show support for its struggle to illegally extend arms restrictions on Iran that it clings to the personal position of GCC SG — obtained thru coercion — as regional consensus".

 

Tensions between Iran and the US

In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally ended the participation of the United States in the JCPOA, resulting in Tehran stepping away from its nuclear commitments beginning in 2019. 

Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal marked the re-imposing of harsh sanctions against Iran and a rise of tensions between the two nations.

Tensions were additionally fueled by the 3 January assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) top general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone strike conducted on the order of US President Donald Trump.

The Soleimani killing prompted Iranian retaliation, with Tehran attacking US military bases in Iraq on 8 January. Initially, the White House said that no one was hurt after the attack, but later the Pentagon revealed that over a hundred soldiers had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.

Throughout 2020, sanctions against Iran have been expanded by the Trump administration, despite global calls to lift them amid the coronavirus pandemic. In late July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo widened the list of sanctions against Tehran, targeting the country's nuclear, military and ballistic missile programs.