Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Bolton: US could sanction European companies over Iran

Bolton: US could sanction European companies over Iran

Former Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross, speaking on NPR, said Trump's decision to abrogate the terms of the nuclear deal is likely spurring Iran to show the United States that it will pay a price. The minister said he wanted France, Germany and Britain to reach out to the USA administration and ask for "exemptions, additional deadlines, or to respect the contracts that have been agreed in good faith by our businesses in Iran".

Merkel is set to visit Russian Federation and meet Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Saint Petersburg later this month for an economic forum.

She said there would be "protection of European Union economic operators and ... last but not least, the further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran".

Trump announced last week he was removing the USA from the nuclear agreement, and at a rally following his decision to exit the deal, Trump said he still hoped to make a better agreement. "The economy is weak but not crumbling; the population is restless but not marching in the streets; the regime has fissures, but the military and security services appear solid".

"It was a good and constructive meeting", he said, adding that "we are on the right make sure that the interests of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, especially Iran, will be guaranteed".

With the Iran nuclear deal, the treachery lies with Iran, a nation state that has been calling for "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" since 1979.

The U.S. already pulled out of the pact of the major global powers with Iran and promised tough economic sanctions that could hurt companies in the European Union as well. "There is no plan B", he said.

The question is whether the remaining signatories - the so-called EU-3, Russian Federation and China - can deliver the benefits of the accord, including access to global oil markets, trade and investment, that enticed the Iranians to join the agreement. To this end, the White House had for months lobbied France, Britain and Germany to formulate a side-agreement that eliminates the JCPOA's so-called "sunset clauses"-which remove limitations on Iran's ability to enrich uranium in just over a decade-and curbs the Islamic Republic's other "nefarious" activities". China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil.

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Washington has given European firms doing business in Iran up to six months to wind up investments or risk U.S. sanctions and they are also forbidden from signing any new contracts with Iran.

"Why would any business, why would the shareholders of any business, want to do business with the world's central banker of worldwide terrorism?"

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron reached out to Iran last week to urge it stick to its commitments under the accord.

"Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression", said a Western trade diplomat on condition of anonymity.

Concern - and anger - is growing among European governments at the uncertainty facing companies with investments in Iran.

German exports to Iran totalled almost 3 billion euros in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros in 2015 to 1.5 billion in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field. In 2015, French lender BNP Paribas was slapped with a $9 billion fine after US prosecutors accused it of violating sanctions against Iran as well as Sudan and Cuba.

But Bolton didn't rule out sanctions for European companies doing business with Iran.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that "it won't be easy, that's clear to all of us".

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