Dominican Dilemma: Torn Between Two Friends On Iran Sanctions.

Photo by Arpit Rastogi on Unsplash
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At his inauguration speech just a week ago, incoming Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader pledged friendship to both the United States and the EU, but he may now have to pick his way carefully to make sure the Dominican Republic keeps its friendship with benefits with both sides of the Atlantic.

The problem is all to do with wrangling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran, known as JCPoA

On August 14, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted against the United States’ proposed extension of the arms embargo against Iran initiated in 2007 in Resolution 1747 .

The US was only accompanied by the Dominican Republic, while the E3 (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) and eight others abstained.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 was a United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened the sanctions imposed on Iran in connection with the Iranian nuclear program. It was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on 24 March 2007 and would have been due to expire in October 2020, except that it was ended on 16 January 2016 when JCPOA came into force.

On 8 May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). Following the U.S. withdrawal, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute on 7 August 2018 to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran, essentially ending the arms embargo on Iran.

In the furious letter published this week jointly by the governments of the UK, Germany, and France the three European nations argue strongly that when the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, it also withdrew from and right to  enforce any aspects connected with the deal, even though Trump administration officials—especially Pompeo—have attempted to justify the case.

The letter says: “We cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA.”

After the US withdrew from  JCPoA, it introduced new sanctions of its own on Iran that were intended to force Iran to dramatically alter its policies in the region, including its support for militant groups in the region and its development of ballistic missiles.

In September 2019, a U.S. official stated that the United States will sanction whoever deals with Iran or purchases its oil. Also in September 2019, in response to a suspected Iranian attack on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities, Trump said that he directed the Treasury Department to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran.

However, according to the New York Times, Tehran has disclaimed playing any part in the attacks that affected the Saudi oil facilities.

In other words, the UK, Germany, and France are completely at loggerheads with the Trump administration, which has only the support of the Dominican Republic out of all the members of the UN Security Council.

Some commentators do feel however, that the EU letter is just a delaying tactic and that the EU leaders think that it is likely that there will soon be new faces in Washington. The EU countries do not actually want Iran loading up on weapons, but they would like to have trade with Iran in exchange for Iran promising not to try to make nuclear bombs.

However the Dominican vote was cast last week, just before the inauguration of the new Dominican Republic government, so under the old Dominican regime.

The Dominican Republic representative on the United Nations Security Council is Dominican businessman José Singer Weisinger who had described himself as a close friend of former President Danilo Medina Sánchez.

A friend so close that in an interview last year Weisinger said that he was close enough to the former president (Danilo) to have access to him “24/7.”

It is not immediately clear whether Luis Abinader supports the Dominican Security Council vote on Iran, almost the last act of the Danilo administration, or whether he intends to recall Singer Weisinger and replace him with one of his own men or women, or what was discussed in private between Abinader and US Secretary of State Pompeo on Inauguration Day, or if he has any opinion at all on the United Nations Security Council Iran vote.

Either way, the Dominican Republic  cannot please both equally, and while seeking friendship with benefits from both sides, could end up being torn between two lovers. Perhaps Abinader is also waiting for November to see if the Trump administration survives.





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