The EU and US are at odds after the August 6th reimposition of the sanctions on Iran.
On the evening of August 6th, the first sanctions on Iran were signed of by Donald Trump. They target the acquisition of dollar bank notes, trade in gold and other metals, transactions related to the Iranian rial, and purchases of commercial passenger aircraft. There is a second round of sanctions coming on November 4th, which target Iran’s oil exports and energy sector.
US President Donald Trump, in a statement issued by the White House on August 6th said that despite the imposed sanctions he is still open to taking part in dialogue between the US and Iran. The statement was as follows: “As we continue applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime, I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism.”
Sputnik News also cited an unnamed White House official, who claimed that the United States is putting together a global coalition to counter Iran’s malign activity. According to him, the economic pressure campaign also has the objective of denying the financial resources to finance terrorism. According to the anonymous source, the US is happy to have entities around the world supporting the US in the endeavor: “We’re [the United States] very pleased that nearly 100 international firms have announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, particularly in the energy and the finance sectors.”
Furthermore, in his statement on August 6th, President Trump called to all partner nations to take steps to pressure Tehran into changing its destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy.
Regarding any counteractions, Trump had the following to say: “The United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions, and we will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance. Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement on August 6th, praised the newly imposed sanctions and called to Europe to do the same.
However, on August 5th, EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers from the UK, France, and Germany in a statement said that the European Union’s Blocking Statute would enter into force on August 7th to protect EU companies that are doing legitimate business in Iran. The statement released by the European commission was as follows: “As the first batch of re-imposed US sanctions on Iran takes effect, the EU’s updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to mitigate their impact on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran.”
The foreign ministers of the EU members approved amendments to the Blocking Statute on July 16th. The legal act has the aim of invalidating Washington’s judicial decisions and administrative actions with the framework of anti-Iran sanctions on the territory of Europe. In short it has the objective of forbidding EU-based companies from complying to US restrictions.
Furthermore, on August 6th, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom expressed their regret of the reimposition of the sanctions by the US in a joint statement. They also further elaborated that the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was working and that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 11 different reports. They further commented on the sanctions, saying they are illegal and vowing to intensify the efforts to thwart the US measures and to preserve the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Early on August 7th, as an answer to the EU’s bid to fight the sanctions, Donald Trump posted the following on his twitter: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
There is also criticism from the US side. On August 6th, US Senator Rich Durbin also expressed his concerns of the sanctions in a press release, stating that Trump’s move would divide the US from its allies. His words were: “Today’s actions, yet again, put the US in violation of this deal [JCPOA]. It risks reopening a resolved conflict and will divide us further from our European allies. President Trump’s foreign policy is a dangerous gamble with nuclear weapons.” According to him the Iran Nuclear Deal has worked in the past and still continues to work.
After the reimposition on August 6th, Iran quickly accused the US of attempts to destabilize the country. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters that the Trump’s decision to sign off on the sanctions is aimed at destabilizing the country. Furthermore, he posted the following statement on twitter: “Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people. Yet the very first sanctions it reimposed have canceled licenses for sales of 200+ passenger jets under absurd pretexts, endangering ordinary Iranians. US hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
On May 8th, Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA. The deal was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. As a result of withdrawing from the deal Trump also announced the enforcement of sanctions on Iran, the first of which were imposed on August 6th.
Iran threatened to also leave the nuclear deal, however the EU undertook to fight the sanctions, as it is currently doing. However, on July 6th, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in an interview with a French radio station said that any comprehensive measures would probably not be ready for the August sanctions, and it would be realistic to aim for a November intervention. His words were: “We are trying to do it before sanctions are imposed at the start of August and then another set of sanctions in November. For the start August, it seems a bit short, but we are trying to do it by November.”