Deputy FM: EU mechanism available for third countries
Iran has been doing copious work with Europe to devise a mechanism to guarantee continued bilateral trade despite attempts by the United States to obstruct such cooperation, said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, declaring that US sabotage is "certain" to fail as a result of ongoing Iranian-European diplomatic engagement.
"After much negotiation over a clear mechanism with Europe, we have neared certain understandings; and for sure, US sabotage in that regard will fail," said Bahram Qassemi during a press briefing on Monday.
Qassemi referred to the US unilateral pullout from a multilateral deal with Iran, Europe, Russia, and China on May 8, and said Tehran has since been negotiating with the remaining parties to work out a mechanism to beat the US financial reach in European countries that would hinder their continued cooperation with Iran.
Iran struck the deal with originally six world powers and the European Union (EU) back in 2015, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for mainly lifting restrictions on its oil sales.
When US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled America out in May, he reintroduced the previous sanctions and imposed new ones on the Islamic Republic. He also introduced punitive measures — known as secondary sanctions — against third countries doing business with Iran.
Iran has stayed in the deal but has stressed that the other parties to the agreement have to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they wanted Tehran to continue to remain in it.
Europe has been taking a range of measures to meet the Iranian demand for practical guarantees.
On September 24, Iran and its five partners released a joint statement announcing the setting up of a "Special Purpose Vehicle" to facilitate continued trade with Iran, bypass the US's financial system, and avoid any impact of America's secondary sanctions.
That statement did not provide details. And EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said technical talks would ensue.
Qassemi said details would remain undisclosed to protect national interests and to preempt potential attempts to undermine Iran's work with its partners.
But he did say "the mechanism for cooperation" was being finalized.
The Iranian spokesperson also said Iran would ultimately decide whether its demands have been met in practice.
"If, ultimately, and for whatever reason, the European Union and [our] other partners fail to provide the necessary guarantees to us, that can influence Iran's decision, and the Islamic Republic will follow the path that is expedient for the country," he said.
While attempting to throw a wrench in the works, the Trump administration has simultaneously been sending Iran requests for new negotiations. Tehran has ruled out any talks with the Trump White House because of its unlawful exit from the deal — which was turned into effective international law via United Nations Resolution 2231 back in 2015 — and has said Washington must return to the deal before any talk of negotiations.
‘Vehicle for all’
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the EU mechanism of transactions with Iran, aimed at circumventing the US sanctions, will be available for third countries.
Araqchi told Sputnik that the mechanism is "not a vehicle only between Iran and the EU."
"Third countries can also use that. And this is the important element in SPV that it is not only for Europeans but also other countries can use this. We hope that before the reimposition of the second part of the US sanctions [on November 4] these mechanisms can be in place and be functional," the diplomat said.
Araqchi further did not rule out the possibility of establishing an alternative to the international payments provider SWIFT to route around US sanctions.
"As we know Europeans are also working on SWIFT to see how SWIFT can continue working with Iran, or if a parallel [financial] messaging system is necessary or not … It could go either way — either SWIFT can continue working with Iran, or a parallel messaging system could be established for Iran. This is something that we are still working on," he said.
In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the European Union to set up an independent equivalent of the SWIFT system in order to protect EU firms from the US sanctions against Iran, targeting actors doing business with the Islamic Republic.
Araqchi said the new US sanctions against Iran will seriously affect oil prices and the entire Middle East.
"I am not an expert on this. But I think it is obvious and everybody is predicting that if Iran is out of the market it would have serious effects on the market, including on oil prices," the high-ranking diplomat said.
Araqchi said that the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, as well as its reinstatement of sanctions against Iran, damaged the balance in the JCPOA, with Iran's "takes" reduced, and its "gives" remaining the same.
He specified that the details of the SPV were not available yet, as it was a "very complicated issue."
"We know that there are elements who are trying to stop this, who are trying to sabotage the process. I think it's preferred to be completed first and then be announced. The details will be announced afterwards," Araqchi stressed.
Press TV contributed to this story.