The meeting began with Trump talking tough on Iran, saying that the country “must never be allowed to obtain” a nuclear weapon.
“All U.S. nuclear-related sanctions will be in full force by early November. They will be in full force. After that, the United States will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran’s malign conduct,” Trump said.
“Any individual or entity who fails to comply with these sanctions will face severe consequences. I ask all members of the Security Council to work with the United States to ensure the Iranian regime changes its behaviour and never acquires a nuclear bomb.”
He also accused Iran of supporting destabilizing proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, calling the country the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.”
WATCH: Donald Trump chairs security council meeting
The comments echoed his speech to the UN General Assembly one day earlier, where he said Iranian leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction” and “spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.”
But other members of the Security Council took the opportunity to oppose the fact that Trump and the United States pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
When the U.S. withdrew from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran and urged the other nations in the deal to do the same.
But French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, speaking after Trump on Wednesday, said America’s policy of sanctions and isolation was not enough.
“I agree with the goals of the president of the U.S. even if we disagree over the nuclear deal, but I think we need to build together a long-term strategy and it can’t just boil down to sanctions and containment,” Macron told the council.
“Since , the pathways of the JCPOA have diverged. But, and let me repeat it here: we still … retain the same objective in mind, namely preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and guaranteeing strict international control on the peaceful use of their nuclear program,” Macron said. “The JCPOA is imperfect but it is a decisive step in that exact direction.”
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said her country is “committed to preserving” the deal.
“For many years the scale and nature of Iran’s nuclear program raised serious international concerns. The JCPOA was an important step forward in addressing these,” May said.
“It remains the best means of preventing Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and we are committed to the JCPOA, as long as Iran continues to abide by its obligations in full.”
Speaking ahead of the Security Council, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom asked, “What’s the alternative to the Iran deal?”
“We have tried sanctions over the years. We tried isolation, and it only gave the most conservative forces in Iran more power,” she said. She also echoed these sentiments during her speech at the council meeting.
Wallstrom also said the European Union is working to set up a financial facility that will help Iran do business with international companies to circumvent the U.S. sanctions.
The remaining members of the JCPOA (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran) met Monday and announced they were making a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to “to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports, including oil.”
Several European diplomats said the SPV idea was to create a barter system, similar to one used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to exchange Iranian oil for European goods without money changing hands.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the SPV counterproductive and said he was “disturbed” to hear of it.
“This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional global peace and security,” Pompeo said.
During the security council meeting, Trump also thanked Iran, along with Syria and Russia, for slowing down an assault on Syria’s Idlib.
— With files from Reuters
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