NEW YORK—European Union Member States have decided to set up a ‘’legal entity’’ to facilitate ‘’legitimate’’ financial transactions with Iran in order to allow European companies to continue trade with Iran and evade new U.S. sanctions.
The decision, announced by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, sends a new signal to both Teheran and Washington that the EU will not back down on its efforts to preserve the nuclear deal despite the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement signed by world powers with Iran in 2015.
After a ministerial meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain with Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the EU foreign policy chief announced the setting up of the “legal entity” for businesses to transfer money without coming under Washington’s scanner. According to Mogherini, this is in accordance with European Union law and it ‘’could be opened to other partners in the world.’’
The nuclear accord with Iran ‘’is in the global interest,’’ Mogherini insisted, pointing to UN inspectors’ findings that Iran is in compliance.
She said she was confident that Europe and others can save the Iran nuclear deal, despite President Trump’s determination to end it. “It is indeed a difficult environment in which we are operating. But I am convinced of the value of what we have done,” she said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed” by the EU announcement.
“This is one of the of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional and global peace and security,” Pompeo said.
“By sustaining revenues to the regime, you are solidifying Iran’s ranking as the number-one state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said. He quipped that Iran’s “corrupt ayatollahs” and elite Revolutionary Guards had to be “laughing this morning.”
Last August, the European Commission approved a €18 million support package for Iran to help the country in ”addressing key economic and social challenges and, in doing so, to offset the impact of the US decision to re-impose economic sanctions against Iran.”.
Brian Hook, who is the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, said “Iran has not earned the trust to have restrictions on its nuclear program lifted.’’ ‘’Our policy is that regardless of what kind of special purpose vehicle or other mechanism is created, the United States will vigorously enforce our sanctions,” he stated.
The new American sanctions against Iran, which will target its energy production, are set to start on November 4.