Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

European Union vows to block blow of US Iran sanctions

European Union vows to block blow of US Iran sanctions

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

"As long as the Iranians respect their commitments, the EU will of course stick to the agreement of which it was an architect", said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

"It's the duty of the EU to protect European business and that applies in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises", he told a news conference following a summit of EU leaders in Bulgaria on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington quit the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran's nuclear activity in exchange for lifting the UN Security Council's sanctions and unilateral restrictions introduced by the US and the EU.

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".

European Union officials say the blocking statute will be revamped to encompass Pres. Trump's decision to revive Iran-related sanctions, including sanctions aimed at Iran's oil sector and transactions with its central bank.

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to circumvent Washington's trade embargo on Cuba, which prohibits European Union companies and courts from complying with specific foreign sanction laws.

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A blocking statute is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder the application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction and is widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on Washington not to punish European firms that continue doing business with Iran.

"In Sofia, we saw a show of European unity".

The White House said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provides Iran with opportunities for creating a nuclear bomb by evading all current restrictions.

Some will come into effect by early August, with other sanctions coming into force by the beginning of November.

During talks in Brussels on Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said efforts to save the deal were on the "right track".

European investments in Iran, mainly from Germany, France, and Italy, have jumped by more than 20 billion euros since 2016.

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.

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