Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

The European Union tries to save the Iran nuclear deal and protect EU companies investing in the country by launching a process to activate its blocking statute that bans any EU company from complying with US sanctions and does not recognize court rulings that enforce USA penalties.

"This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of USA sanctions which could target European Union entities active in oil transactions with Iran", the document says.

EU leaders meeting Thursday in Bulgaria gave the European Commmission, the bloc's executive arm, the all-clear amid a deepening rift with Washington.

US President Donald Trump last week controversially pulled Washington out of the 2015 global deal with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an announcement that "sanctions will be reimposed subject to certain 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods".

Also, EC has made a decision to allow European Investment Bank to facilitate investment of European companies in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he maintained.

The European Union on Friday launched "the blocking statute" process to spare Europeans from United States sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran. The goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of U.S. sanctions take effect.

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The commission said it is also encouraging European Union member states to explore the idea of "one-off bank transfers" to the Central Bank of Iran. Trump vowed to reinstate the previous sanctions and introduce new restrictions should Tehran carry out its nuclear ambitions.

European businesses are anxious that their ties with the U.S. could be damaged if they continue doing Iranian deals. According to European sources, this measure may become the EU's first step towards ditching dollar in trade with Iran.

Last week, the USA sanctioned six people and three companies it said had ties to Iran's elite military force.

The other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran have pledged to stick to its terms and urged Tehran to do the same.

The European Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, is expected on Friday in Tehran, where he will meet for three days with Iranian officials.

French energy giant Total's deal, worth up to $5bn, signed to help Iran develop the world's largest gas field.

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