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Iran chides US as world refuses to reimpose sanctions

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Tehran, Iran – The United States has broken with all other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally declared the re-imposition of all UN sanctions against Iran – a claim rejected by Iran and the international community, including Washington’s close allies, as having no legal basis.

In a statement on Sunday following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened “consequences” for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures, which were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal that was signed between six world powers and Iran in 2015 but was abandoned by the US more than two years ago.

In addition to adhering to a conventional arms embargo that is due to expire next month, Pompeo said member states must comply with restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities; the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development; and sanctions on transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies.

“If UN Member States fail to fulfil their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo said.

.@SecPompeo: In accordance with our rights under resolution 2231, the United States initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously lifted UN sanctions, including the embargo. The world will be safer as a result. https://t.co/Yg8SC0mp9j

— Department of State (@StateDept) September 20, 2020

His statement came a month after the US officially triggered the process aimed at restoring all UN sanctions on Iran, claiming significant Iranian violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the 2015 deal that was endorsed by the Security Council.

Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a “participant” and could trigger the so-called “snapback”. This was a mechanism devised by the US negotiating team before the signing of the JCPOA that stipulated that if Iran breached its commitments, all international sanctions could snap back into place.

However, the international community, including the four other permanent Security Council members, insist the US no longer has the legal ability to force through any changes since it announced its exit from what Trump has branded “the worst deal ever” with a presidential memorandum titled Ceasing US Participation in the JCPOA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation directly in a live televised cabinet meeting on Sunday. He congratulated world powers since US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions “has reached its definitive point of failure”.

Today, he said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy”.

Rouhani added should the US try to “bully” others into adhering to its declaration of reinstating UN sanctions, Iran will have a “decisive response” to match.

Pointing out how the US tried to garner the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the United States expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition against the Islamic Republic.

“Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”

The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Iran will also fully implement its commitments.

Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its commitments, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran still continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

In a letter to the Security Council, the European signatories to the deal – Britain, France and Germany, or E3 – stressed UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue, adding any decision or action to reimpose them “would be incapable of legal effect”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told the council he would not take any action on the US declaration because “there would appear to be uncertainty whether or not any process … was indeed initiated”.

On Sunday morning, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters the US is experiencing some of its “most bitter” times as it has chosen to stand “on the wrong side of history”.

“The message of Tehran for Washington is clear: Return to the international community. Return to your commitments. Stop this rogue and unruly behaviour. The international community will accept you,” Khatibzadeh said.

Transatlantic rift

According to Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), there are clear reasons why the European powers, as well as Russia and China, oppose the US demand.

“First, it would pave the way for further arbitrary interpretation of international treaties by Washington, that may one day come back to haunt the Europeans themselves,” Azizi told Al Jazeera.

“Second, Iran’s reaction to sanctions return would be to leave the JCPOA or even NPT,” he added, referring to the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that pursues nuclear disarmament.

As to why the US would engage in such a move based on shaky legal arguments, Azizi says its goal is political.

“It wants to keep Iran under the international spotlight, continuing to introduce the Islamic Republic as a threat to international peace and security,” he said, adding that the US also wants to make Europeans more cautious in dealing with Iran.

According to Azizi, the snapback showdown is the latest and most evident sign of a rift in transatlantic relations.

“Especially if Trump gets re-elected as the US president, this will work as fuel for further disagreements between the EU and the US,” he said, pointing out that Russia and China could use the opportunity to expand their influence in Iran and the wider region.

Arms embargo

The US attempt to trigger the snapback mechanism came on the heels of another demand it made at the Security Council that left it isolated.

In mid-August, the council resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend a global arms embargo on Iran that expires on October 18 under the JCPOA.

Washington only managed to secure the support of the Dominican Republic for its proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “Yes” votes required for adoption. Eleven members abstained while China and Russia opposed the resolution.

Last week, Pompeo reiterated during a briefing with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that the US will move to reinstate UN sanctions to make the arms embargo permanent.

The US will “do its share as part of its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East”, he said.

Zarif fired off a tweet on Thursday, saying “nothing new happens on 9/20”. He also alluded to two recent opinion pieces by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who had pointed out that the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution clauses are “complex and potentially lengthy” to avoid UNSC confrontations.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters news agency reported on Friday that Trump is planning to issue an executive order in the coming days to impose secondary sanctions on anyone who would buy or sell arms to Iran, depriving them of access to the US market.

Rising tensions

The culmination of the snapback showdown comes shortly after a fresh round of threatening rhetoric being exchanged between longtime foes, the US and Iran.

On September 13, US-based media outlet Politico published a report, citing unnamed officials, that the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa.

The plot, the report claimed, would be executed in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in early January.

In a tweet, Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, said the US will retaliate with “1,000 times greater” force against any Iranian attack on its interests.

In response, Iran cautioned the US against making “a new strategic mistake” by believing false reports and warned of a “decisive response”.

On Saturday, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a stern warning directly addressing Trump, saying the killing of Soleimani will be avenged but Marks is not a proportionate target.

“We will target those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man,” Major-General Hossein Salami said.

On Friday, South Africa’s State Security Agency said in a statement there is insufficient evidence to sustain the allegation of a plot to assassinate Marks.

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Armenian Aggression

Azerbaijan liberates Gubadli city, new villages from Armenian occupation

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By Aisha Jabbarova

The Azerbaijani Army has liberated Gubadli city after 27 years of military occupation by Armenia.

President announced the news of liberation in his Twitter account on October 26.

“Victorious Armed Forces of Azerbaijan have liberated several villages of Zengilan, Jabrayil and Gubadli districts and the city of Gubadli. Long live Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” Aliyev tweeted.

President Aliyev announced the names of the liberated villages in an address to the nation on October 26.

The names of the liberated villages are Birinji Alibayli, Ikinji Alibayli, Raband, Yenikand (in Zangilan), Jabrayil district: Govshudlu, Sofulu, Dagh Mashanli, Kurdlar, Hovuslu, Chalabilar (in Jabrayil), Padar, Afandilar, Yusifbayli, Chaytumas, Khanlig, Sariyatag, Mollaburhan (in Gubadli).

The Azerbaijani Army has so far liberated from occupation Jabrayil, Fuzuli cities, Hadrut town, many villages in Khojavand and Jabrayil districts since military operations that started on September 27 after Armenian attacks on Azerbaijani Army positions and civilians.

Armenian armed forces launched a large-scale operation in the front-line zone on September 27 at 6 am, shelling the positions of the Azerbaijani army from large-calibre weapons, mortars, and artillery installations of various calibres. Armenia has been targeting Azerbaijan’s densely populated areas and infrastructure projects.

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Armenian Aggression

President Aliyev urges international community’s pressure on Armenia

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By Vafa Ismayilova

President Ilham Aliyev has urged the international community and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to speak up against the daily shelling of Azerbaijani territories by Armenian troops and the occupation of Azerbaijani troops.

The president also said that the only way to stop Azerbaijan from liberating its occupied lands is for Armenia to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijani territories.

The president made the remarks on 25 October at an operational meeting at the Central Command Post of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry attended by the ministry leadership and commanders of the joint corps located in the frontline zone.

“Hundreds and thousands of shells are fired at our cities and villages in Tartar, Aghdam and other frontline regions every day, but the international community remains tight-lipped over this. And so do the mediators. All they are concerned about now is how to get Armenia out of this situation. There is a way to do this – Armenia must withdraw from our lands, it must get out of there. This is required by international law. But no pressure is being put on them. On the contrary, there are attempts to influence and put pressure on us. Of course, no-one can influence us, no-one can influence our resolve. I want our servicemen and citizens to know that there is a very serious struggle – both on the frontline and in the political arena. We shed blood on the battlefield, liberate our lands from occupiers at the cost of the lives of these heroes, while at the same time, we resist, show courage and defend our positions on the political stage,” the president said in his address to the operational meeting.

He also underlined: “Azerbaijan is not alone, our territorial integrity is recognized by the international community and we operate within the norms of international law – even though Armenia has repeatedly provoked Azerbaijan during this period, fired on the country’s military positions from Armenian territory, fired on settlements, fired two ballistic missiles at Ganja from the territory of Armenia, as a result of which innocent people were killed.”

Aliyev spoke about Azerbaijan’s victories in the political arena.

Aliyev stressed that a few days ago after a meeting at the UN Security Council, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs put forward a document to Azerbaijan that run counter to the country’s interests. He said that the attempt failed and no document was adopted.

“These days, we have seen again that Armenia does not intend to leave our lands of its own accord. We have seen again that during these 30 years, Armenia simply wanted to gain time, to imitate the negotiations and to perpetuate the status quo. Unfortunately, the international mediators were unable or did not want to put the necessary pressure on the occupying state. Otherwise, four UN Security Council resolutions would not remain on paper. I must also note that a few days ago, the co-chairs held a meeting of the UN Security Council. A document was put forward at the meeting that did not meet our interests and was intended to draw a line through the resolutions adopted in 1993. We strongly objected to this. This is another manifestation of injustice, another manifestation of double standards.

“The resolutions adopted in 1993 express a clear position on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Resolutions adopted in 1993 demand complete, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories. The draft document initiated the other day did not contain these provisions. In short, this step is viewed as yet another provocation against Azerbaijan. We have raised our voice, and I am glad that some of the members of the Security Council objected to this even though they were pressured by major states. However, these countries are members of the Non-Aligned Movement, which is currently chaired by Azerbaijan. Of course, their support for Azerbaijan is highly appreciated and this shows that there is a high level of solidarity within the Non-Aligned Movement. In short, this political step failed and no document was adopted. I think this is another political victory for us. Just as we are winning on the battlefield, we are winning in the political arena. Just as we are driving the enemy away on the battlefield, we are also responding to the provocative steps of the enemy's supporters,” Aliyev said.

Furthermore, the president said that the countries that are so concerned about Armenia, patronize them and create conditions for the Armenians to occupy Azerbaijani lands for about 30 years should put pressure on Armenia. “The Armenian prime minister must declare that Armenia will withdraw from the occupied territories. We have not heard such statements. On the contrary, he talks of the self-determination of peoples and, in fact, has disrupted the process of negotiations,” Aliyev said.

Ceasefire cannot be unconditional

“A ceasefire was declared at the request of Armenia and at the suggestion of major powers twice and Armenia violated the ceasefire both times. The first time, less than a day later, they bombed Ganja. The second time they violated the ceasefire two minutes after it was announced. This being the case, Azerbaijan gave them and will continue to give them a decent rebuff, of course. We will continue to drive the enemy out of our lands, all the way…The ceasefire cannot be unconditional… For 28 years, they have been promising to us, asking us to wait, saying that they will put pressure on Armenia, that they will do this and that. It was all a lie. Everyone sees it now,” the president said.

Aliyev said that Armenia is being armed by other countries.

“The most modern weapons are being sent to Armenia every day. We have a list of these weapons. We have all the information about the flights, when, where and from which city they departed, when they arrived in Yerevan and what they carried. During the current fighting, about 300 Armenian tanks have been either destroyed or taken as military booty. Where does all this money come from? It is a poor country with no money and no opportunities. They got it for free. Six S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems have been destroyed. Their price is known. Where does this come from? TOR, OSA anti-aircraft missile systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft which have already been destroyed by Azerbaijan. Where did Tochka-U and SCUD come from? It is given to them for free. We cannot remain silent about it. Everyone should know this. We are fighting alone, on our own! I am saying all this, first of all, for the people of Azerbaijan to know the real situation. People should realize at what cost we are liberating our lands from occupiers,” he added.

Furthermore, Aliyev said that, military and political assistance given to Armenia over the past 27 to 28 years is the reason why Azerbaijani territories remain under occupation.

“Notice how Armenian soldiers are fleeing the battlefield. This footage is available. Only some of these images are published in the media but this is a very extensive video. Without these weapons, without this political support, could Armenia have occupied our lands? Of course not! As I said, we are driving them away and will continue to do that. No-one can stand in front of Azerbaijan. We are right, we are fighting on our own land, we are restoring our territorial integrity, we have not crossed into the territory of Armenia and have no such plans. If we had such an idea, we would have done it a long time ago. It does not take much effort to do so,” Aliyev said.

Armenia to be held accountable for its crimes

Aliyev pledged that Armenia as a state will be held accountable for crimes committed in Azerbaijan’s occupied lands.

“More than 100 settlements – cities and villages – have been liberated from the occupiers. The Azerbaijani flag has already been hoisted in our liberated cities and villages. Video footage of these cities and villages is available to the Azerbaijani public, so everyone can see the state to which the savage enemy has brought our cities and villages. There is not a single building left there. All buildings, houses, administrative buildings, social facilities, historical and religious sites have been destroyed by the hated enemy. The occupied lands and ruins are witness to Armenian vandalism. The Armenian state is responsible for these crimes and will be held accountable for them. I have ordered to conduct inspections in all liberated areas, to register all the destruction, to draw up acts, to register the destroyed property of our citizens. The Armenian state will definitely be held accountable for these war crimes. Once again, the whole world can see what kind of savages we are facing. Today, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers are teaching the enemy a lesson on the battlefield, are putting the enemy in its place, are driving the enemy out of our lands,” he said.

Aliyev said that over 60 civilians had been killed and about 300 had been injured in the Armenian cowardly shooting.

The president said at the meeting that the situation at the frontline was under his full control.

“The war has been going on for about a month. During this period, our country has achieved great successes on the battlefield. Good news comes from the frontline every day. During the day, I am regularly updated about the operations carried out in the war zone and give relevant instructions. Almost every hour I receive information about events in different regions. The Ministry of Defense and other agencies keep me informed. Operational meetings are held every day,” he said.

Aliyev said that after the war all successes and shortcomings will be analysed.

“We have succeeded on the battlefield. At the same time, these battles have shown that there are still drawbacks and shortcomings, and we are eliminating them promptly. At the same time, after these battles, after the end of the Second Karabakh War, all the successes and shortcomings of the war must be seriously analyzed. Although the Azerbaijani Army is one of the strongest armies in the world today, we must continue to use more modern methods in army building. These battles are a great experience for us. We have seen that some of the weapons in our military arsenal are not particularly necessary in modern warfare. On the contrary, we have entered a high-tech stage and, of course, technology and professionalism contribute a lot to the success of any army. I have said this before and I want to say again that it is the soldiers and officers who are liberating our lands from the occupiers,” he said.

The president urged more effective manner in conducting military operations.

“Our military operations must be conducted in a more effective manner and without wasting time. In some cases, there have been delays. In some cases, no justification can be provided for a delay. We are analyzing all this and will continue to do so. I repeat – the Azerbaijani Army shows great courage and professionalism. We lost our lands in the early 1990s over several years, but parts of Fuzuli, Hadrut, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Kalbajar and Gubadli districts have been liberated from the occupiers in less than a month. Again, good news comes from the frontline every day. It is true that some areas need serious adjustments but, on the whole, we are reaching our goal. Every day, a combat mission is set for the next day. I approve this combat mission and it is possible to say that almost all of it is fulfilled.”

“I am confident that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity. We are fighting on our own land. Justice is on our side, international law is on our side, historical justice is on our side… I want to assure the people of Azerbaijan today that we will not turn back from the right path! No force can affect our resolve. We will drive the enemy away to the very end. We will restore our territorial integrity!” the president concluded.

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Armenian Aggression

Armenian Armed Forces bombard Azerbaijani units

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By Trend

On October 26, at 08:05 am, the Armenian Armed Forces violated a new humanitarian ceasefire and from the Lachin side they bombard Azerbaijani army units located in the Safiyan village of the Lachin region, Trend reports citing Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

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