The US has formally initiated the process to re-instate UN sanctions on Iran lifted as part of Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

The top diplomat told reporters at the UN's headquarters in New York that he has presented letters to UN Security Council President Dian Triansyah Djani and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres formally notifying the international body of the action. 

“Our actions today should come as no surprise to anyone. Our team has made every diplomatic effort over, now, almost two years to renew this arms embargo," the top diplomat said the week after the US was dealt an embarrassing blow in the Security Council.

The notification delivered by Pompeo starts a 30-day countdown for the sanctions to be reimposed.

Last week, the US attempted to pass a resolution in the council that would have extended the arms embargo, which is set to expire on Oct. 18 under the 2015 nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

It received only the support of the US and one other nation in the 15 member international body. All other nations either abstained of voted in opposition.

Moreover, the JCPOA's participants -- China, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the UK -- dispute the US's standing to trigger the snapback mechanism because of President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally exit the agreement in May 2018. 

But Pompeo argued the US still has the ability to trigger the reinforcement of sanctions because it is a party to the Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal, an assertion quickly rebuffed by the US's traditional European allies. 

"France, Germany and the United Kingdom ("the E3") note that the US ceased to be a participant to the JCPoA following their withdrawal from the deal on May 8, 2018," the nations' foreign ministers said in a statement. 

"Our position regarding the effectiveness of the US notification pursuant to resolution 2231 has subsequently been conveyed to the Presidency and all UNSC members. We therefore cannot support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA," they said. "We remain committed to the JCPoA despite the significant challenges caused by US withdrawal."

With the US at odds with Europe, Russia, China and most Security Council members over its ability to trigger snapback its action on Thursday will trigger a major crisis for the body tasked with ensuring international peace and security. 

While Iran has stepped out from some constraints imposed by the JCPoA on its nuclear activities it has done so in retaliation for the Trump administration's reimposition of US sanctions that were supposed to remain lifted as part of the agreement. 

The UN sanctions cover a wide variety of Iranian activity including prohibitions on ballistic missile testing and nuclear enrichment. The action would also ensure the UN's arms embargo on Iran is not lifted as it is supposed to under the international agreement. 

The US move to reimpose sanctions could be procedurally thwarted by a Security Resolution extending their relief, but the US would near certainly use its veto power as part of the permanent five council members to thwart the effort. 

Pompeo said the US fully expects such a resolution to be introduced, adding that he spoke with Djani, the council president, about the matter earlier Thursday. 

The notification delivered by Pompeo starts a 30-day countdown for the sanctions to be reimposed.