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Allies Disagree With U.S. On Sanctions Against Iran

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

An all-online United Nations General Assembly kicks off tomorrow. Among the leaders beaming in will be President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the two countries are sparring about whether U.S.-backed sanctions against Iran are back in effect.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likes to talk about how the Trump administration's foreign policy is grounded in reality. Though the rest of the U.N. Security Council disagrees with him, Pompeo says the reality is U.N. sanctions on Iran are back in force.

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MIKE POMPEO: We have made it very clear that every member state in the United Nations has a responsibility to enforce these sanctions. That certainly includes the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

KELEMEN: But those three countries say the sanctions are not back on Iran. They point out that the Trump administration left the Iran nuclear deal and, therefore, can't use a provision in that deal to snap back U.N. sanctions. Still, the Trump administration is announcing more sanctions. Pompeo appeared today with other high-ranking administration officials, including the ambassador to the U.N., Kelly Craft.

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KELLY CRAFT: We don't need a cheering section to validate our moral compass. We do not find comfort based solely on numbers.

KELEMEN: Iran's foreign minister says it's the U.S. not Iran that's isolated.

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MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: They say now they are taking retribution not against us but against the entire world.

KELEMEN: Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations today that his country should be compensated for the losses incurred from U.S. sanctions before Iran would consider more nuclear negotiations.

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ZARIF: The United States needs to find a seat at the table before it starts raising questions. It does not have a seat because it left the room.

KELEMEN: Zarif also suggested that Iran could retaliate further to the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general in January.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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