Germany, France and the UK have unveiled a plan to help companies trade with Iran, in an attempt to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran amid Donald Trump’s sanctions.
“We’re now establishing a possibility to secure trade,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said as he announced the so-called special purpose vehicle for transactions with Iran. “It’s a step that makes clear that even when others have a different opinion, we are capable in the EU of going our own way in a united and resolute manner.”
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs commissioner, is a vocal advocate, saying that Brussels was “fully behind the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal”.
The US said it was still examining the new financial arrangements but issued a stern warning against violating its unilateral sanctions.
“Entities that continue to engage in sanctionable activity involving Iran risk severe consequences that could include losing access to the US financial system and the ability to do business with the United States or US companies,” Washington’s State Department said.
“The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges” would be based in Paris with a German CEO, former Commerzbank manager Per Fischer, tweeted Iran’s ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad.
The financial vehicle will have a supervisory board consisting of diplomats from all three countries: Miguel Berger of Germany, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne from France and the UK’s Simon McDonald.
The EU is trying to stop Iran from leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that aimed to constrain Iran’s nuclear activities. Trump breached the deal in May last year and has reimposed sanctions, most significantly targeting oil and gas exports in November.
The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, recently warned that a solution to Trump’s sanctions needed to be reached “before it is too late”.
The 2015 agreement’s remaining signatories – Iran, China, France, Russia, Germany and the UK – have struggled to maintain the sanctions relief that was promised when Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities.
Russia and China have also stuck with the nuclear deal despite the Trump withdrawal.
The European move risks inflaming tensions with Washington, which has warned that the efforts would fail. Trump’s staff have dismissed the European initiative as an attempt to block the “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
The rest of the EU is set to back the trilateral measure, which would have a positive “impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of Iranian people”, Brussels is due to announce.
Iranian society is struggling under the new US sanctions. Picture credit: Wikimedia