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Europe moves to protect its firms working in Iran from United States sanctions

18 May 2018

The European Commission says it has launched "the blocking statute" process to protect Europeans from U.S. sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran.

In addition, Jean-Claude Juncker noted that EU leaders had "also made a decision to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies' investment in Iran" and that the European Commission would continue to cooperate with Iran. "We must do it and we will do it tomorrow morning at 10:30", Juncker said at the summit in Sofia.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump opted to withdraw the United States from a joint nuclear agreement with Iran, and chose to reinstate all sanctions that had previously been imposed on Iran, but were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an announcement that "sanctions will be reimposed subject to certain 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods".

"As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies".

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to get around Washington's trade embargo on Cuba, which prohibits EU companies and courts from complying with specific foreign sanction laws, and says no foreign court judgments based on these laws have any effect in the European Union.

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European businesses are anxious that their ties with the USA could be damaged if they continue doing Iranian deals. The Commission said this will allow the bank to support European Union investment in Iran and could be particularly helpful for small and medium-sized businesses.

And, in a bid to reassure the Iranian government of the EU's political commitment to saving the nuclear deal, Energy Commissioner Miguel Canete is visiting Tehran this weekend. According to European sources, this measure may become the EU's first step towards ditching dollar in trade with Iran.

It is also encouraging members of the bloc to look into one-off bank transfers to the central bank of Iran to help authorities their "receive their oil-related revenues".

"Guarantees of benefits of the JCPOA should be given to Iran".

In pulling out, Trump complained the nuclear deal does nothing to stop Iran's ballistic missile program or its interference in conflicts across the Middle East from Syria to Yemen.

Europe moves to protect its firms working in Iran from United States sanctions