Between 5,000 and 7,000 small- and medium-sized German companies enterprises are still willing to continue trade with Iran, said a senior member of Iran-Germany Chamber of Commerce.
This comes as US sanctions are mainly focused on major and leading companies whose transactions with Iran are conducted through Iranian banks in Germany or the Middle Eastern state's shipping lines, Michael Tockuss, the co-chair of Iran-Germany Chamber of Commerce, told WirtschaftsWoche — a German weekly business news magazine.
On May 8, the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed unilateral sanctions against Tehran in two phases — both already in place.
The US move drew severe criticism from the European signatories to the deal, who in the aftermath of Washington's withdrawal announced they would remain committed to the agreement and undertook efforts to preserve it.
Thus, he noted, Americans' attempts are focused on preventing such companies from trade with Iran through scaremongering and creating distrust.
Tockuss said the US is doing its best to force German companies into choosing between trade and business with Iran or the US by exerting pressure on them.
This is the message many media outlets are also spreading, he added.
"At times, a number of German businessmen, who conduct transactions with Iran, call me and ask if they will be arrested or put on trial if they fly to the US. My answer is: 'No, no danger threatens them'. Only those [German] companies are at the risk of US sanctions that have American employees or shareholders or have used American money in their company or their activities, such as hedge funds."
He added all other companies can enter into economic transactions with Iran without any concern.
Tockuss expressed optimism over the effectiveness of Europe's special payment system for trade with Iran, called Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). He described as futile US scaremongering about the trade mechanism and useless efforts to say that it is doomed to failure.
Britain, France and Germany on Thursday launched the trade mechanism to bypass US sanctions on Iran, drawing a warning from Washington.
He noted that the special payment channel will allow European firms to exchange goods with Iran.
Tockuss said the setting up of the channel has helped boost hopes, adding the belief that transactions with Iran would stop is erroneous.
At present, only major German firms have suspended transactions with Iran, he noted, adding, this comes as German firms export goods valued at between €200 million and €250 million to Iran monthly.
Tockuss said the Americans do not know that, for instance, a company from the Black Forest — a mountainous region in southwest Germany — delivers a packaging machines to Iran.
"They have no idea about this."
After the creation of INSTEX was announced, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed a 'long overdue first step' taken by the European signatories to the nuclear deal to launch a direct payment mechanism meant to bypass Washington's sanctions on Tehran.
"We remain ready for constructive engagement with Europe on equal footing & with mutual respect," the top Iranian diplomat tweeted on Thursday shortly after the launch of the mechanism was announced.