World powers back Iran oil exports despite US sanctions threat

David Peterlin

World powers back Iran oil exports despite US sanctions threat

President Donald Trump in May withdrew the United States from a hard-won accord that Washington and other world powers signed with Iran in 2015 to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.

Late on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had described as "disappointing" a package presented to him earlier by European countries.

During the phone call, the German chancellor said that the discussion on details of the agreement should continue. The proposed package "only included some general promises like previous European Union statements", Rouhani said.

"Everyone agreed that it was a grave violation of the deal's terms, " Lavrov said, adding that this United States move was apparently "provoked by nothing other than a desire to once again politicize the situation around Iran". He added that the commission needs to develop ways keep commercial and economic ties between Iran and other parties to the agreement, which "would not depend on the U.S. whims".

"We must put in place measures that allow Iran to trade as long as it meets its commitments", he told RTL radio in France, cautioning that the new steps may take until November when numerous sanctions take effect.

The pillars of the European Union's strategy are: European Investment Bank lending, a special measure to shield EU companies from US secondary sanctions, and a Commission proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid USA penalties.

Mogherini noted that companies pursuing business in Iran "have been acting in good faith based on the commitments contained in the JCPOA and endorsed at the highest level by the UN Security Council" and said the treaty states were committed to providing "clear and effective support for economic operators trading with Iran".

Britain, France and Germany along with Russian Federation and China met with Iran in Vienna to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping USA sanctions announced by Trump.

"The participants recognized that, in return for the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions, including the economic dividends arising from it, constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA", Mogherini told reporters after the meeting without taking questions.

They also vowed to maintain financial channels, promote export credit cover and air, sea and overland transport links, and to work for the "the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions".

Washington warns other countries to end trade and investment in Iran and stop buying its oil or face punitive measures, a move which also threatens foreign companies doing deals with Iran. Further sanctions on oil and transactions with the central bank of Iran will come into effect November 6.

In light of Washington's push on sanctions, European leaders have said they would do their utmost of maintain business ties with Iran but it would be hard for them to make any "guarantees".

"We are formulating an offer which, in our opinion, is also attractive for Iran", Maas said.

The rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes.

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