Defying U.S., Ambassador Says Russia Rejects Automatic Snapback of Sanctions on Iran

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said that Moscow would not support the automatic snapping back of sanctions, mentioned by the Obama administration as a central enforcement mechanism of the emerging nuclear deal with Iran to counter possible violations, Bloomberg News reported today.

“There can be no automaticity, none whatsoever” in reimposing UN sanctions if Iran violates the terms of an agreement to curb its nuclear program, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate.

While the Obama administration maintains that Russia agreed “in principle” to the need for a sanctions “snapback” mechanism if Iran fails to comply with the agreement now being negotiated in final form, the Russian government has offered no corroboration. …

“It’s highly doubtful to me that Russia could agree to automatic renewal of sanctions against Iran if there are violations,” [analyst Yury] Barmin said in an e-mail. “Russia may agree to discuss the issue at the UN Security Council, but not to quickly reapply economic measures.”

An administration fact sheet released at the conclusion of the nuclear negotiations in Lausanne last month stated, “If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.”

An Associated Press analysis published last month questioned whether the automatic “snapback” of sanctions was possible precisely because of the involvement of Russia and China, both of which are opposed to further imposition of sanctions.

Despite Syrian violations of an agreement it signed to get rid of its chemical weapon stockpile, Russia, which helped engineer the agreement, has refused to authorize any further action against Damascus. Russia’s blocking of any action to hold Syria accountable for its violations prompted the editors of The Wall Street Journal yesterday to ask “If the world won’t respond to evidence of cheating by a minor state like Syria, why should anyone believe it would act against cheaters in Iran?”

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