May 20, 2018

French-led pushback against Iran sanctions may help India

18 May 2018, 01:39 | Devin Moran

Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif

Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif

Last week, President Donald Trump announced the United States would be reimposing unilateral sanctions against Iran that had been suspended as part of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The European Union's top official launched a stinging attack on President Donald Trump, slamming his "capricious assertiveness" and saying the U.S. leader acted more like an enemy than a friend.

Speaking at news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Bulgaria, Juncker added that he "also chose to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies' investment in Iran".

The Trump administration made a decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and is threatening to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU.

Convinced that the USA move breaks global trade rules, the European Union has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) to impose on US products if it is not permanently exempt. "We have opted to support it whatever the USA decides to do", said the French president on arrival at the Sofia summit.

Trump's pullout of the Iran deal adds more momentum to the mounting anti-American sentiment that has been building up in Europe for years, amid the growing appeal for a European-modeled globalist alternative to the U.S.' nationalism, that is doing serious damage to the transatlantic relationship between both sides.

The prospect has rankled many European countries, particularly France and Germany, that have built extensive trade ties with Iran since the deal was signed.

The EU will stick to the Iran deal and the bloc's leaders have mandated their Brussels-based executive to defend the interests of European companies dealing with Tehran from USA sanctions if needed, Reuters reported Thursday. Soren Skou, chief executive of Danish-based A.P. Moller-Maersk, said his firm would have to accept the sanctions.

Despite the bloc's unified push against the sanctions, some companies are already backing out of business with Iran.

Europe's "blocking statute" has never been used until now and its rules are vague and hard to enforce.

"The broader U.S. -EU security relationship is at risk", a former U.S. envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

"We all agreed that we have a relative in intensive care and we all want to get him or her out of intensive care as quickly as possible", European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after the 90-minute meeting.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Washington's Middle Eastern allies, are the countries supporting Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. While walking out of the deal, Trump also reinstated sanctions on Iran as well as anyone dealing with Iran.

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