Security Council members alone may legally impose sanctions on nations, entities or individuals.
Article 41 of the UN Charter states that the Security Council is empowered to decide what actions may be used to enforce international law—including “complete or partial interruption of economic relations and…severance of diplomatic relations,” other than use of military force.
When Article 41 steps don’t work, Article 42 authorizes Security Council members to “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security”—by use of “demonstrations, blockade,” or military intervention.
The Security Council alone may authorize going this far—not presidents, prime ministers, lawmakers, or judicial bodies.
Neither Trump, any other US president, nor Congress can legally wage war without Security Council authorization, permitted only in self-defense if attacked or an attack is imminent.
When unilaterally imposed by one nation against others, sanctions have no legal validity. Countries going along with illegal sanctions are complicit in criminality.
The US weaponizes sanctions to wage war by other means against nations unwilling to bend to its will. Virtually always they’re unjustifiably justified by Big Lies and deception.
Sanctions are imposed for political, economic, financial, and/or military reasons. They include prohibitions on the import or export of designated commercial goods, products and services related to technology, arms and munitions, restrictions on loans and credit, asset freezes, travel bans, and for other purposes.
US imposed sanctions have nothing to do with changing undesirable behavior, everything to do with pressuring, bullying, threatening, and intimidating other nations to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.
Used to advance Washington’s imperium, they’ve been imposed on Iran since 1979—harshest steps taken since Trump unlawfully withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear deal in May 2018.
International sanctions were lifted following adoption of Security Council 2231, affirming the JCPOA, making it binding international law.
Trump illegally reimposed nuclear-related sanctions lifted by the Security Council – mainly targeting Iranian energy and related products, along with its central bank and other financial transactions.
When unilaterally imposed, they’re a blunt instrument to inflict pain and suffering on ordinary people of targeted nations through economic hardships—failing to topple targeted governments or change their policies.
They haven’t worked for over half a century against Cuba and North Korea, not for nearly 40 years against Iran, or shorter periods against other targeted countries.
Toughened Trump regime sanctions war on Iran aims to block its oil and gas sales, crush its economy, and immiserate its people, falsely believing they’ll rise up against their government.
History most often shows when nations are threatened by hostile forces, popular support for their ruling authorities increases.
It was true for Libya under Gaddafi, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran now, their ruling authorities prime US targets for regime change.
Interviewed by ABC News Sunday from Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed illegally imposed US sanctions against the sovereign state threatening no one, saying the following:
“If the United States decides to cause so much pain on the Iranian people by imposing economic warfare, by engaging in economic terrorism against Iran, then there will be consequences” without elaborating, adding:
“We don’t differentiate between economic war and military war. The US is engaged in war against us, and a war is painful to our participants.”
“We have a very clear notion that in a war, nobody wins. In a war, everybody loses, [but] the loss of some will be greater than the loss of others.”
“[W]e exercise our [right of] self-defense.” International law permits it. Trump and regime hardliners surrounding him said they’re “engaged in a war and economic war against Iran, and we have an obligation to defend our people against that economic war.”
Trump will fail to “achieve his policy objectives through pressure on the Iranians. [His dealmaking] may work in…real estate…It does not work in dealing with Iran.”
It may work short-term against some countries, said Zarif, not over a longer period against Russia, China, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, or other nations on the US target list for regime change.
As for outreach by Trump and Pompeo for talks with Iran, the Islamic Republic rejects the idea “because talking [with the US] is the continuation of the process of pressure,” Zarif stressed.
“[R]espect” alone works in dealing with Tehran, the same true for most other countries. Threatened US belligerence against Iran requires its ruling authorities to defend the nation.
“Just imagine if Iran were to come to California coast [or the] Florida coast,” said Zarif. “How do you feel? How would you treat that? The United States is sending nuclear ships to our waters, to our vicinity”—a serious threat to Iranian security.
Separately, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed Trump regime’s offer for talks, saying, “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not pay attention to word-play and expression of hidden agenda in new forms,” adding, “What matters is the change of US general approach and actual behavior towards the Iranian nation.”
“Pompeo’s emphasis on the continuation of maximum pressure on Iran is the same old wrong policy that needs reform.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.