U.S. sanctions 'possible' on European firms over Iran

by Garry Watts May 14, 2018, 3:27
U.S. sanctions 'possible' on European firms over Iran

Countries that continue to deal with Iran could face American sanctions, the Trump administration said today, days after it announced its decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Macron's office said the two leaders spoke on Saturday and the French leader expressed his "great concern about stability" in the region. Military tensions between Iran and Israel have already mounted, and oil prices are rising on the uncertainty. The issue here is what the Europeans are going to do.

Deep US-European discord over Tehran is not unprecedented. In response, Brussels agreed reciprocal steps to protect European businesses and adopt counter-measures against the United States where restrictions were imposed by Washington.

"Germany, France and Britain, " the "EU3", say themselves that Iran poses a threat. I'm not the national security decision-maker.

Following Trump's decision, the ball is now in Europe's court and it is clear that numerous continent's leaders are aghast at Trump's dismissal of the deal that took over a decade to negotiate. Mr. Mattis, a Pentagon spokeswoman said, gave his confidential advice to the president and did not feel cut out of the debate. If they're going to see that it's not in their interest to stay in the deal; we're going to have to watch what the Iranians do.

Germany, France have major trade connections with Iran and continue being devoted to this atomic agreement, as does Britain, and each of three states' foreign ministers plan to fulfill Tuesday to discuss it.

Rouhani, however, did warn last week that he has instructed the country's atomic energy agency to prepare to restart enrichment of uranium in a few weeks should the deal collapse completely.

He emphasized on CNN that his job now was to advise Trump and that the president would make the policy decisions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the issue in a Friday phone call with Trump, a spokesperson for the European leader said.

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China was closely involved in negotiating the agreement as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and has always been a close Iranian economic partner, buying about a third of Iran's oil shipments.

Trump's tough talk now on sanctions is at odds with what he told France's Emmanuel Macon and May just six months ago as he moved toward yanking the US out of the deal.

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

The 2015 deal offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. "But as it is now, at least for the time being, we're the country that's isolated".

This US-French dialogue came to nothing.

Europe took a similar path after Washington passed the ILSA legislation in 1996. And we'll see what happens then.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said withdrawing from the 2015 accord wasn't aimed at Europeans, but he didn't rule out the USA imposing sanctions on entities that continue to do business with Iran, even as efforts continue to strike a new deal.

We are gonna work with all of the Europeans. Don't worry about it. Take all the money you can get.

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