United States sanctions 'possible' on European firms over Iran: Bolton

Lloyd Doyle
May 17, 2018

European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 accord, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for an end to punishing worldwide sanctions.

The Iranian foreign minister is also set to hold talks with Russian head of foreign affairs Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday and foreign chiefs from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in Brussels on Tuesday.

He stated: "I consider we're heading in the right direction".

Iranian officials have said they hope Europe will work with them to preserve the deal.

The European Union on Tuesday launched work on a nine-point economic plan to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive after the abrupt withdrawal of the United States.

The UK prime minister said earlier that it was in both the UK and Iran's national security interests to support the deal and welcomed President Rouhani's public commitment to abide by its terms, emphasizing that it is essential that Iran continues to meet its obligations.

Zarif also said that sanctions United States against the governor of Iran's central bank Valiollah Seif were illegal.

Even if Pompeo is successful in getting the European members of the deal and the United States back on the same page, there is no reason to believe that Iran (which successfully recouped funds that were frozen under the sanctions regimen, has the Europeans anxious to preserve the deal and has China and Russian Federation on its side) will give up more than it did before. However, the full range of its ominous ramifications, not only for Iran, but also the Middle East region and the world, remain to be seen.

Zarif is in Brussels on the final leg of a diplomatic tour to save the 2015 nuclear deal after the recent USA withdrawal from the pact.

"We appreciate this possibility to meet in Moscow and exchange views on the issues of the JCPOA, and to be honest, the situation around is a crisis", Lavrov stressed. But in an interview aired on the ABC programme This Week, Bolton said, "That's not the policy of the administration".

Many Europeans, like Ms. Tocci, believe that the unstated American aim is "regime change" in Iran, something that the British and French foreign ministers, Boris Johnson and Mr. Le Drian, have specifically ruled out as a European goal. The thing is, some of the other six countries involved in this are making billions through trade with Iran, and for that reason and others, want to keep their part of the deal intact.

"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well", he said.

European diplomats acknowledged that the EU support, however honest, risked looking hollow after Trump last week reimposed an array of wide sanctions on the Islamic Republic that will hit European companies investing in Iran. "The EU would have to green light retaliation against US companies for any sanctions imposed against European ones". European governments are casting about for ways to protect their firms from running afoul of US sanctions, which has led to threats from Brussels and counter-threats from White House National Security Advisor John Bolton.

He stated: "We have now to simply accept, we now have to be real looking in regards to the electrified rail, the reside wire of American extra-territoriality, and the way that may function a deterrent to companies".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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