TEHRAN: Iran said on Sunday its arch-foe the United States is facing “maximum isolation” after major powers dismissed a unilateral US declaration that UN sanctions on Tehran were back in force.

The Trump administration said the sanctions had been re-activated under the “snapback” mechanism in a landmark 2015 nuclear treaty — despite Washington having withdrawn from the deal.

As other signatories cast doubt on the move having any legal effect, Washington threatened to “impose consequences” on states failing to comply.

But Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said a concerted campaign by Washington to pressure Tehran had backfired.

“We can say that America’s ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran, in its political and legal aspect, has turned into America’s maximum isolation,” he said in a televised cabinet meeting.

The sanctions in question had been lifted when Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US) and Germany signed the 2015 treaty on Iran’s nuclear programme, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, saying the deal — negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama — was insufficient.

On Sunday, France, Germany and Britain issued a joint statement saying Washington’s “purported notification” was “incapable of having any legal effect”. Russia also said the US lacked legal authority and that its “illegitimate initiative and actions” could not have “international legal consequences” for others.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2020