Iran ‘Will Never Have a Nuclear Weapon’: Trump Weighs In on Anticipated US Move to Seek ‘Snapback’ Sanctions

August 20, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

President Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged that Iran “will never have a nuclear weapon” as long as he is President of the United States just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is set to trigger the “snapback” of all United Nations sanctions against Iran.

“Today I’m directing the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the previously-suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran, it’s a snapback, not uncommon,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

Pompeo announced hours prior that the United States will on Thursday submit a complaint to the U.N. Security Council to formally notify of Iran’s non-compliance under the deal, thereby triggering a potential “snapback” of all U.N. sanctions that existed before the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015.

Trump said at the press briefing that his administration had pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and that the “disastrous” deal was “a product of the Obama-Biden foreign policy failure—a failure like few people have seen in terms of the amount of money we paid for absolutely nothing and a short-term deal.”

The deal “funneled $150 billion … plus $1.8 billion in cash” to the Iranian regime, Trump said. He also questioned Obama’s authority to give the $1.8 billion cash to the regime.

Trump said that sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy and limited the amount of money it can use to support terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

He said the money “would have funded all of the chaos and the bloodshed and the terror in the region and all throughout the world. And I won’t say anything because I don’t like saying it but Iran doesn’t have so much money to give to the world anymore.”

“If and when I win the election, within the first month, Iran will come to us and they are going to be asking for a deal so quickly because they are doing very poorly,” the president said.

Trump said that “a good deal” was the one the United States made with United Arab Emirates and Israel, adding that other countries now want to join the deal. “And all of a sudden you’re going to have peace in the Middle East, and you couldn’t have done it with this ridiculous Iran nuclear deal, as they call it,” he said.

“I imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran and this has caused great difficulties for them giving money to terrorist organizations. And if they do, they will have hell to pay,” he continued. “My administration will not allow this Iran nuclear situation to go on. [Iran] will never have a nuclear weapon.”

“When the United States entered into the Iran deal, it was clear that the United states would always have the right to restore the U.N. sanctions that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” he noted. “We paid a fortune for a failed concept and a failed policy, a policy that would have made it impossible to have peace in the Middle East.”

The snapback of U.N. sanctions would extend the 13-year arms embargo on Iran, ban Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and require that Iran suspend its nuclear program. The “snapback” sanction mechanism is a provision of the U.N. resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal.

Russia and China have argued that the United States does not have the right to trigger the reimposition of U.N. sanctions when it withdrew from the deal.

The latest U.S. move to trigger the potential “snapback” sanctions on Iran comes after the United States failed at the United Nations last week to extend an arms embargo on the regime, winning just one other “yes” vote, with China and Russia opposed and the 11 other members of the U.N. Security Council abstaining.

The embargo on conventional arms sale was imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council as a part of the Iran nuclear deal, and is due to expire on Oct. 23 if no action is taken. This could allow China, Russia, and other countries to sell conventional weapons to Iran.

The Iran nuclear deal in 2015 was promoted by then-President Barack Obama as “the best option”—the only way, even temporarily, to keep Iran from wielding nuclear arms.

But the Iranian regime has been reported to have gone in the opposite direction. Among various other actions, the regime in 2017 announced a 150 percent increase in its military budget—developing long-range missiles, armed drones, and cyber-war capabilities—while putting to use some of the up to $150 billion in assets abroad that had previously been frozen due to sanctions.

Last year, the regime began breaching the uranium enrichment limits set out in the deal.

Trump has been increasing pressure on Iran’s leaders since May 2018, when he quit the Iran nuclear deal and signed an Executive Order to reimpose tight sanctions on Iran previously lifted as a part of the deal.

The United States recognizes Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and has long criticized it for funding terror groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.

Ella Kietlinska, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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