Note on the United States’ Claim to activate the snapback mechanism under Security Council Resolution 2231, ,

On 20 August 2020, the United States attempted to launch the mechanism often referred to as the ‘snapback’ mechanism provided for by the Iran nuclear agreement, the a (JCPOA) of 2015. The United States has done so through a ‘notification’ addressed to the United Nations Security Council, of the ‘significant non-performance’ by Iran ‘of its commitments under the JCPOA’, based on paragraph 11 of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. […]

A short note (memorandum) has been drafted to address the issue of the validity of the United States’ claim to initiate the ‘snapback’ mechanism, from the viewpoint of international law. This note has been drafted as an independent, non-partisan assessment of relevant rules of international law. It is intended to be a contribution of the community of international law scholars to the clarification of an issue of importance for the UN and international law at large. The underlying question addressed by the note is whether the United States qualifies as one of the JCPOA participants identified in paragraph 10 of resolution 2231, as it claims to be.[…]

Its main conclusion is that the legal position expressed by the remaining JCPOA participant States, that the United States is not entitled to initiate the ‘snapback’ mechanism since it is no longer a JCPOA participant, is legally correct. It shows that the US claims rest on an understanding of the term ‘JCPOA participant’ that is supported neither by textual interpretation, nor by contextual interpretation, nor by the subsequent practice of the remaining JCPOA participant States. The consequence is that the United States’ attempted ‘notification’ of 20 August 2020 is incapable of having any legal effect under international law, and consequently cannot bring into effect the ‘snapback’ procedure foreseen under paragraph 11 of Security Council Resolution 2231. Läs artikel