Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Bolton warns sanctions possible for businesses dealing with Iran

Bolton warns sanctions possible for businesses dealing with Iran

The foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad Zarif has arrived in Brussels ahead of a meeting with his British, French and German counterparts.

"If the JCPOA (nuclear deal) is supposed to continue, it was a good start and it has sent an important political message, but this is not the end of the work", Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on his flight back to Tehran, according to state news agency IRNA.

But last week US President Donald Trump announced he was leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions.

"I'm not the national security decision-maker", Bolton said, adding that Trump "makes the decision and the advice that I give him is between us".

When pressed by CNN on whether the administration would sanction European firms that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton said, "I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest ultimately to come along with us".

The European Commission has been examining measures to counter the introduction of any USA sanctions that might harm European businesses and is expected to unveil them to EU leaders at a summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday. They will be joined by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Perry Cammack, of the Carnegie Middle East foundation, said "The primary target of United States secondary sanctions is not Iran itself but foreign financial institutions that trade with it".

"I think it was testing the limits of the deal's provisions, exceeding them in some cases", Bolton said. "Whatever (is) decided should preserve and guarantee Iran's rights".

Even former President Obama, who typically doesn't weigh in on current events, issued a statement saying he believes the US decision to pull out of the Iran agreement is "a serious mistake".

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Regular inspections have found Iran to be fully compliant with the restrictions imposed on its nuclear programme, which Iran insists was always peaceful.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a landmark agreement signed in 2015.

European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 accord, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in return for an end to punishing worldwide sanctions.

Another possibility raised by Le Maire is a European version of U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions.

"Unfortunately once again we see that Washington is trying to revise key global agreements as it happens to Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as it happens to Jerusalem (al-Quds) problem and a number of other agreements", the top Russian diplomat said.

Senior EU politicians recently threatened that the 28-nation bloc is ready to challenge any move that may harm their businesses in the Iranian market at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Pre-existing U.S. sanctions against Iran have hit European Union firms, with large fines imposed since 2009 on European Union banks with USA subsidiaries, such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, ING, Barclays, Credit Suisse BNP and Lloyds.

In the aftermath of Washington's pullout, Europeans are seeking ways to protect the interests of their firms doing business in Iran and help them escape the brunt of the upcoming U.S. sanctions.

German exports to Iran totalled almost €3bn (£2.6bn) in 2017, while French exports soared from €562m in 2015 to €1.5bn in 2017.

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