Pelosi Wrongly Says China and Russia Never Agreed to Sanctions Before Iran Deal

Fact Check of the Day

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, ignored at least four previous instances when those nations did support international sanctions against Iran.

What was said

For years, we have been trying to get China and Russia to do any sanctions on Iran. Never, never, never.

— Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, at the Capitol on Thursday.

the facts

This is false.

China and Russia, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, voted to impose sanctions against Iran in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. (Ms. Pelosi even commended the 2010 vote in a news release.)

The Security Council resolutions during those years embargoed Iran’s nuclear material and equipment, and arms sales. They also froze the financial assets of individuals linked to Iran’s nuclear program.

“The Russians and Chinese did support us in four rounds of sanctions. That was something,” said Richard Nephew, a sanctions expert and former State Department official during the Obama administration.

Though Russia and China were willing to join United Nations sanctions against Iran, Mr. Nephew said the two countries were reluctant — or even “very hostile” — when it came to enforcing penalties similar to those imposed on Tehran’s oil and financial sectors by the United States, the European Union and other Asian countries.

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said her comments on Thursday sought to highlight how difficult it was to get Russia and China to sign on to the earlier rounds of United Nations sanctions against Iran.

He predicted that neither Moscow nor Beijing would now be as willing to endorse new sanctions, given the United States’ withdrawal this week from the Iran nuclear deal that world powers brokered with Tehran in 2015.

The earlier United Nations sanctions “that helped force Iran to the negotiating table are exactly what Leader Pelosi is talking about,” Mr. Connelly said.

He added, “It will be extraordinarily difficult to persuade Russia and China to impose sanctions again.”


An earlier version of this article misstated the location where Representative Nancy Pelosi spoke about the Iran deal. It was at the Capitol, not specifically on the floor of the House chamber.

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based in Washington. She came to the Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact.@ylindaqiu