Russia: US must revise sanctions policy against Iran
The European Union, France, Germany and Britain, said in a joint statement on Friday they regretted US President Donald Trump’s decision to restore sanctions on Iran, the world’s No. 3 oil exporter.
“Our aim is to protect European economic actors who have legitimate commercial exchanges with Iran, in line with European legislation and the United Nations’ Security Council resolution 2231,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers and finance ministers of the three countries said in their statement.
The three biggest European powers are co-signatories, along with Russia and China, to an international 2015 deal with Iran that limited its nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions on Tehran.
The statement described the nuclear agreement as "crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world", adding that it is Europe’s “aim to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”
The statement also vowed to preserve and maintain “effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas.”
“These efforts have been intensified in recent weeks, particularly those underpinning the European initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) on which we are proceeding with work to set up,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the SPV “will enable continued sanctions lifting to reach Iran and allow for European exporters and importers to pursue legitimate trade.”
The statement also hailed Iran’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 12 consecutive reports, and vowed to “remain committed to implementing the JCPOA as a matter of respecting international agreements and of its shared international security.”
US sanctions policy destructive
Russia on Saturday "resolutely" condemned the US "destructive" move, urging Washington to immediately review its policy of sanctions pressure against Tehran.
"We reject any unilateral sanctions bypassing UNSC (United Nations Security Council) decisions, especially when they are applied extra-territorially and concern the interests of third countries, as is the case with US restrictions against Iran," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in a statement.
"If Washington, as it claims, is indeed interested in negotiations with Tehran, the policy of sanctions pressure aimed at diminishing Iran’s economic and defense potential as well as undermining the internal political situation there must be revised immediately," it added.
By using pressure, it will be “impossible to reach concessions” with Iran, it noted.
The statement came after the US Treasury Department announced all sanctions on Iran lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would be back in force on November 5.
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the sweeping sanctions will see 700 people blacklisted, including people who were granted relief under the JCPOA, as well as over 300 new names.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mnuchin said the sanctions will also target payments made through the EU’s SPV channel.
He also warned global financial messaging service SWIFT that it could be punished if it doesn’t cut off financial services to entities and individuals doing business with Iran.
"SWIFT is no different than any other entity… We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure,” he noted.
The White House also said it was "the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed" on Tehran. It targets both Iran and states that trade with it.
However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Washington would allow eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil but only at much lower levels after the re-imposition of sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement further said the fresh anti-Iran sanctions were aimed at undermining the consistent efforts taken by signatories to the JCPOA to preserve the agreement after the US withdrawal in May.
It expressed "deep disappointment and increasing concern" over the US attempts to demolish international legal instruments of nuclear non-proliferation and arms control and warned of the "deteriorating" security situation in the world.
"The United States has now dealt another powerful blow to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, bringing it closer to collapse while hypocritically talking about the need to strengthen it," the statement read.
It said the JCPOA had proved to be effective and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had regularly confirmed Iran's compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement.
"The verification and control measures provided for in the Action Plan are applied in full. This in itself is reliable proof of the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program,” it added.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano one again reaffirmed in September that Iran was in compliance with the nuclear agreement.
“Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA," Amano said.
Elsewhere in the statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged the international community not to allow "such a significant achievement of international diplomacy to collapse at the whim of just one nation, which openly violates the norms of international law."
It emphasized that parties to the JCPOA were absolutely capable of overcoming any emerging issues.
"We will do everything necessary to preserve and expand international trade and economic and financial cooperation with Iran despite the US sanctions," the statement pointed out.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak also said on Friday that his country would help Iran counter fresh US sanctions, saying Moscow would continue trading Tehran’s crude in defiance of Washington.
"We believe we should look for mechanisms that would allow us to continue developing cooperation with our partners, with Iran," Novak told the Financial Times.