Delegates attend a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, on July 28, 2019. (Photo:Xinhua)
Iran said Sunday its arch-foe the US is facing "maximum isolation" after major powers dismissed a unilateral US declaration that UN sanctions on Tehran were back in force.
Washington said the sanctions had been reactivated under the "snapback" mechanism in a landmark 2015 nuclear treaty - despite Washington having withdrawn from the deal.
As other signatories cast doubt on the move having any legal effect, Washington threatened to "impose consequences" on states failing to comply.
But Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said a concerted campaign by Washington to pressure Tehran had backfired.
"We can say that America's 'maximum pressure' against Iran, in its political and legal aspect, has turned into America's maximum isolation," he said in a televised cabinet meeting.
The sanctions in question had been lifted when Iran, the UN Security Council's five permanent members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US) and Germany signed the 2015 treaty on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA in 2018, saying the deal - negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama - was insufficient.
He also stepped up Washington's own sanctions as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.
The US insists it is still a participant in the agreement - but only so it can activate the snapback option, which it announced on August 20.
Virtually every other UN Security Council member disputes Washington's ability to execute this legal pirouette, and the UN body has not taken the measure any further.
On Sunday, France, Germany and Britain issued a joint statement saying Washington's "purported notification" was "incapable of having any legal effect."
Russia also said Washington's "illegitimate initiative and actions" could not have "international legal consequences" for others.
China's mission to the UN tweeted that the US move was "devoid of any legal, political or practical effect," adding that it was "time to end the political drama by the US."
Rouhani thanked UN Security Council members who had "stood against America's illegal request" and said if remaining signatories let Iran access the deal's economic benefits, Iran would reinstate nuclear commitments it had dropped in response to the US withdrawal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that the US "welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran."
With around six weeks to go until the US presidential election, Trump could unveil those measures in a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.