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France, UK, Germany reject US call to restore Iran sanctions

Madrid

THE US has no authority to demand a snap-back in sanctions against Iran after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal two years ago, the French Foreign Ministry said in a joint statement with Germany and the UK on Sunday.

"We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so," the three countries' foreign ministers said in the statement.

Since quitting the nuclear accord in May 2018, the Trump administration has intensified efforts to pressure the Islamic Republic, ratcheting up sanctions. But the US moves have united partners such as the UK, France and Germany with Russia and China, who have sought to salvage the accord. That has left the US isolated on the UN Security Council, with most nations saying America has no authority to demand the return of international sanctions since it's no longer a party to the agreement.

The US says that the broader Security Council resolution that enshrined the accord doesn't require it to still be in the agreement, and that all of the United Nations resolutions on Iran that were in place before the accord - from a ban on arm deals to restrictions on the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile activity and its nuclear enrichment - should have gone back into effect on Saturday.

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The US expects all UN member states to comply with their obligations to implement sanctions, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a statement late on Saturday.

"In the coming days, the United States will announce a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable," Mr Pompeo said in his statement. "Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran reaches a comprehensive agreement with us to rein in its proliferation threats and stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed."

The dispute has paralysed the UN Security Council and threatened lasting damage to the global body. Most Security Council nations appear to be trying to avoid any direct confrontation on the issue until after US presidential elections in November. Democrat Joe Biden has said he would seek to return to the nuclear deal and build on it if elected as US president in November.

"I will offer Teheran a credible path back to diplomacy," Mr Biden wrote in an op-ed for CNN last week. "If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations."

Earlier on Saturday, Iran ridiculed the US bid to forcibly restore sanctions, and said it would set Washington's military outposts in the Persian Gulf "on fire at once" if its adversary tried to start a war. BLOOMBERG

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