Iran Nuclear Deal Hangs by a Thread
Signals from Europe are mixed. The European Commission (EC) indicated the EU blocking statute will be invoked – banning bloc companies from complying with US sanctions on Iran, along with prohibiting EU courts from enforcing them.
A June 6 EC press release said the decision is “meant to help protect the interests of EU companies investing in Iran and to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
Created in 1996, the statute was never invoked against Washington, rendering it toothless so far, Europe nearly always bending to US will.
Will this time be different? Based on past history, it’s highly doubtful at best, Brussels so far taking no clear action to reject Trump’s JCPOA pullout and reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions.
According to the EC press release, EU member states, the European Parliament and Council have two months to decide up or down on invoking the blocking statute against US reimposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, saying:
“If no objection is raised,” the statute will be invoked “no later than the beginning of August, when the first round of re-imposed US sanctions” will take effect.
It’s an unacceptable delaying tactic instead of acting straightaway against Trump’s unlawful action – so far opposed rhetorically alone.
Saying the EU “is fully committed to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, so long as Iran also respects its obligations” isn’t good enough.
Adding Brussels “is also committed to maintaining cooperation with the United States, who remains a key partner and ally” suggests the EU’s real intention – likely sticking with Washington over Iran no matter how unacceptable its agenda.
Worrisome as well was updated EC legislation, letting the European Investment Bank (EIB) continue normal relations with Iran – at the same time, saying “it remains for the EIB’s governing bodies to decide to take up such financing activities in line with relevant rules and procedures.”
The bank is unlikely to defy Washington if enough pressure is applied.
Instead of refusing to go along with anti-Iran Trump regime policies, a letter from British, French and German officials, along with EU foreign policy chief Mogherini to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary of State Pompeo said:
“As allies, we expect the United States to refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests.”
Short of demands, it urged Trump regime officials for waiver permission so European companies can continue normal economic, financial and trade relations with Iran.
The request will certainly be rejected – notably asking special exemptions for energy, automotive, civil aviation, and infrastructure sectors, along with banking and other financial activities.
Separately, France’s Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted:
“We ask the American authorities, in a letter signed with Germany, the UK and @eu_eeas to exempt European businesses doing legitimate trade in Iran from all extraterritorial American sanctions. Those businesses must be able to pursue their activities.”
On Wednesday, Reuters reported European refiners “winding down oil purchases from Iran, closing the door on a fifth of the OPEC member’s crude exports after the United States imposed sanctions on Tehran” – citing unnamed company and trading sources, adding:
“(B)anks, insurers and shippers are gradually severing ties with Iran under pressure from the US restrictions, making trade with Tehran complicated and risky.”
Italian refiner Saras said “(w)e cannot defy the United States,” indicating likely Trump regime retaliation, shutting defiant companies out of the US market – especially energy, banking and other financial ones.
Perhaps the only way to successfully oppose Trump regime policies on Iran is for bloc governments and major businesses uniting against it.
Besides meaningless rhetoric, no evidence suggests it – jeopardizing the JCPOA’s survival.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”