News ID: 234093
Published: 1140 GMT November 11, 2018

French FM: Europe determined to facilitate trade with Iran

French FM: Europe determined to facilitate trade with Iran

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian assured his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that the EU is working to ease doing business with Tehran.

In a Saturday phone conversation, the two sides discussed the latest developments in bilateral relations, the Iran nuclear deal and other topics of interest, IRNA reported.

The French foreign minister stressed that Paris and other European countries are determined to create special mechanisms for Iran to enjoy the economic benefits of the nuclear deal following the unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement.

The mechanism, known as special purpose vehicle (SPV), is designed to circumvent the sanctions, under which Washington can cut off any bank that enables oil transactions with Iran.

Under the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – in 2015, Iran agreed to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

US President Donald Trump, however, withdrew Washington in May from the landmark agreement, and reimposed unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Other signatories to the JCPOA have slammed Washington's decision to abandon the agreement, which has also been endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution, saying they will work to keep the accord alive.

The Trump administration, however, announced the reimposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran last Monday.

Europe has intensified its efforts to preserve the nuclear accord and maintain economic relations with the Islamic Republic in the face of growing pressure after the Trump administration renewed its sanctions regime.

“The efforts to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, and economic and trade relations with Iran have been intensified in recent weeks, especially those that are related to the setting up of the special purpose vehicle,” Maja Kocijancic, the European Union spokeswoman for foreign affairs, said on Friday, Bloomberg reported.

“One of the key measures from our side was the blocking statute, which was updated in August,” Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels. “This is one of the measures that have been put in place, but it’s the one that’s very relevant for companies because from our point of view, trade with Iran remains legitimate.”

Despite the blocking statute, the financial messaging network that connects the world’s lenders is disconnecting some Iranian banks from its system. The move includes the Central Bank of Iran, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted on Friday. The EU warned that disconnecting banks from the SWIFT network “risks affecting the integrity of the international financial system.”

The special purpose vehicle the EU is developing is aimed at helping companies avoid the US sanctions and continue doing business with Iran, but details remain vague. Some companies, including energy firms Total SA and Engie SA, have said they would halt some operations in Iran due to the US measures.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that EU officials “regret this decision of the US to take unilateral actions” against Iran. “Iran is actually sticking to its side of the deal, so the international community should stick with it,” he said.



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