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The Nuclear Deal and Iran’s Parliament

Sanctions, Snapback and Iran’s hardliners

Sanctions, snapback and Iran’s hardliners
Photograph: Farhad Babaei

The White House arguments to trigger a snapback mechanism were rejected by UN officials and other parties to the JCPOA. A group of Iranian hardliner MPs endorsed them. But why?

The dispute over reimposing sanctions on Iran has entered a new phase. On Thursday, August the 20th, the United States officially demanded the UN to continue penalizing Iran with battering sanctions. This time, the White House seeks to make use of a provision in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal from which Trump withdrew two years ago.


The body of sanctions currently imposed on Iran will be due to run out in October. The United States aims to keep them in place. The US tried to do so through the UN Security Council (UNSC) earlier in August. But it was unprecedentedly defeated when only the Dominican Republic backed Washington’s plans. European powers abstained while China and Russia voted against the US proposal.


Trump’s next attempt was to activate the snapback; a mechanism provisioned in the JCPOA that allows the participants to reimpose the sanctions. But the other participants to the JCPOA, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, together with the European Union, disputed the White House’s claim. They believe that with Trump withdrawing from the nuclear deal, The US participation in it automatically terminates. The White House, on the other hand, insists on its right as participants in crafting the nuclear agreement.


Trump’s perspective corresponds to that of some hardliners in Iran’s Parliament.


Earlier in August, a conservative faction called Jebhe-ye Paydari presented a draft of legislation to provision Iran’s “exit from the JCPOA, in case the snapback mechanism is activated.”


The bill’s introduction reads:

“...(The snapback) mechanism authorizes the permanent members of UNSC to … use veto power, reimpose the body of sanctions that have been suspended based on the Nuclear Deal and the Resolution 2231.”


The draft seeks to legally oblige the government to exit from the Nuclear deal in case the snapback mechanism is activated.


Reza Nasri was among the first international legal experts to react to the bill. A specialist on legal aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, he tweeted:


“Neither the JPCOA and nor the resolution 2231, gives such authority to “the permanent members of the UNSC”. Only the “the participants of the deal” can use the snapback mechanism, not based on “veto power”, through a detailed and definite process of dispute resolution.”



Nasri says that the draft corresponds with the US claims and adds that it potentially provides a legal document to Iran’s parliament that supports the White House claims.


After a mere 20 percent participation rate in the last election in February 2020, the hardliners dominate parliament.


49 lawmakers signed the draft. They are among ultraconservatives with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards. Since the initiation of the negotiations, they have vocally and relentlessly questioned and disputed President Hassan Rohani’s cabinet’s quest to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme. Ali Khezrian, the MP who crafted the bill, said in an interview to ISNA: “...considering that Iran’s presence in the UNSC brings no benefit… and considering that the other parties (of the agreement) have not kept their promises...the cabinet is obliged to quickly and entirely withdraw from the deal.”


The bill was not passed, though, after Iran’s Commission of National Security and Foreign Policy announced that the US claims are not legally justified.

Mona Omidi