Iran says waiting for EU to make up for delays
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that the European Union is on the verge of setting up an alternative channel to send money to Iran that would side-step US sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Maas said that Germany has been working notably with Britain and France but also other EU partners in recent months to set up the special purpose vehicle, AP reported.
He said their aim is to ensure that “business not sanctioned by the US can be upheld, and there is a suitable instrument for international payments.”
The EU has struggled to keep alive the Iran nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump pulled out of it last year. The bloc has already introduced measures to stop European companies from complying with the US sanctions.
A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday preparations for the SPV were “at an advanced stage” and could be announced as early as Monday.
But diplomatic sources said the EU has postponed launching the system due to differences over one of its ten articles.
The sources said the delay in releasing the EU’s “conclusion” on Iran is caused by Spain's opposition to an article referring to Europe's talks with Iran about the war in Yemen, as Spain was not represented in the meetings, while Germany, France, the UK and Italy were represented in the meetings with Iran about Yemen.
Within EU frameworks, the “conclusion” includes a series of political positions about a certain matter as approved during talks at the European Council.
EU members are to discuss the conclusion about Iran in another meeting later this week.
The United States has warned the EU not to try to evade its sanctions on Iran by setting up the trade channel.
According to AP, the White House has put the Europeans on notice, saying that if they try to do an end-run around US sanctions on Iran, they will be subject to stiff fines and penalties.
A senior US administration official told AP that the US will hold individuals and entities accountable for undermining sanctions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue.
The US joined China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain in signing a pact with Iran in 2015 that offered to lift economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s pledge to rein in its nuclear program.
But US President Donald Trump pulled out of the pact last year and restored US sanctions on Iran. Tehran continues to abide by the agreement, and the remaining five nations in the pact are trying to keep it intact.
“The choice is whether to do business with Iran or the United States,” Sen. Tom Cotton, told AP. “I hope our European allies choose wisely.”
“We should oppose efforts to create foreign financial channels that Iran could use to circumvent America’s maximum pressure campaign against it,” another hawkish Sen. Marco Rubio said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters in Tehran on Monday Iran can wait until the EU officially announces the launch of the SPV.
Qassemi said he was aware of the news that said the launch was to be announced on Monday, adding, "We have heard many promises during recent weeks, but we will wait for the official announcement."
“Iran has never waited for Europe’s payment mechanism but we are eager to see how Europe makes up for the delay.” he said.
Press TV contributed to this story.