The same people who touted injecting disinfectant to treat Covid-19 are now threatening to trigger UN sanctions under the 2015 nuclear deal they brushed aside, the Iranian FM said, taking a swipe at Trump’s notorious remarks.

“Those who muse about injecting disinfectant to ‘clean’ coronavirus, also argue that they are a ‘participant’ in a UN Security Council Resolution endorsing a deal that they long ago ‘ceased participating’ in,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter, citing American officials’ own words.

The tweet hit back at a salvo of threats fired off by Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran. His Wall Street Journal op-ed explicitly pledged to “snap back” United Nations sanctions – lifted after Iran signed the 2015 nuclear deal – if the Security Council doesn’t renew an arms embargo limiting Tehran’s weapons imports.

Those who muse about injecting disinfectant to “clean” the coronavirus, also argue that they are a “participant” in a UN Security Council Resolution endorsing a deal that they long ago “ceased participating” in. Their own words.If only Kafka were around.

The embargo is set to expire in October under the 2015 pact that US President Donald Trump ditched back in 2018, thus ceasing to be a member of the deal. But according to Hook, Washington can employ its clauses when needed, because the Security Council resolution 2231 enshrining the agreement still formally names the US as a participant. 

The explanation apparently looked overly surreal, even for Iran’s experienced chief diplomat. “If only Kafka were around,” Zarif wrote, recalling the renowned German writer whose works explored absurdity and incomprehensible situations faced by isolated protagonists.

The “disinfectant” jibe in his sarcastic comment was intended to ridicule a remark by the American president. Back in April, Trump sparked a media frenzy after floating the following: “And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

Trump later told the public not to take his words at face value as they were merely intended to mock reporters. He categorically denied his words were meant as advice, saying he offered the suggestion “just to see what happens.” 

The UN sanctions in question were put in place back in the 2010s to contain Iran’s nuclear program. The relief of these, coming on the heels of the 2015 nuclear accord, saw a revival of economic activity in the Islamic Republic, just as international inspectors reported Tehran’s full compliance with the respective provisions.

Following the US withdrawal, Iran ceased implementing some of its commitments and started to enrich uranium beyond the deal’s limitations. However, simultaneously, it also signaled a willingness to stick to the agreement and allow for international monitoring at all times.

In recent weeks, Iran has been threatening a “firm” response if the arms embargo isn’t allowed to expire in October. Among the consequences would be the nuclear deal “dying forever,” as a Tehran military official put it.

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