The European Union (E.U.) is ready to open an alternative channel to drive trade and finance with Iran that would sidestep U.S. sanctions against the Islamic republic, Germany’s foreign minister said Monday.
The “special purpose vehicle,” or SPV, is part of a joint E.U. efforts to keep alive international trade with Iran alive after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a previous Obama-era trade agreement last May, slamming it as a “horrible, one-sided deal.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Sunday called on the E.U. to stay committed to their promise of launching SPV. Mr Qassemi lamented the delay in launching the tool that was originally annnoucned last August and called on the Europeans to defy the U.S.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels on Monday that he was happy to oblige Iran’s request, and “as far as the special purpose vehicle is concerned: it will be registered, it has not yet been registered, but I would say that the implementation of our plan is imminent.”
Senior E.U. officials have been saying for weeks that the financing mechanism would be up and running soon, but they have hesitated to provide details amid European concern that Mr. Trump would target the country where it is based and any others taking part.
The White House has been warning the Europeans that they could face stiff fines and penalties should they try to circumvent the sanctions while registering its disappointment with the E.U., as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has detailed:
President Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has previously mocked the E.U. for being light on detail for how its evasion mechanisms will work.
“The European Union is strong on rhetoric and weak on follow-through,” he told the United Against a Nuclear Iran campaign. “We do not intend to allow our sanctions to be evaded by Europe or anybody else.”
Mr. Bolton also issued unsubtle warnings to Iran’s leaders: “We are watching, and we will come after you.”
“If you cross us, our allies or our partners, if you harm our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, there will be hell to pay.”
AP contributed to this report
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