European Union to activate statute to shield firms from United States sanctions against Iran

Hugh Fox
May 18, 2018

The Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, ) signed by Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, Britain, Russia and China - plus Germany on July 14, 2015, imposes strict restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.

The European Commission on Friday proposed to activate a dormant statute to shield European firms doing business with Iran from renewed USA sanctions. It was developed when the United States tried to penalize foreign companies trading with Cuba in the 1990s, but has never been formally implemented.

The measure represents the first practical step towards saving the Iran nuclear deal taken by the EU.

"US sanctions will not be without effect, so it is our duty, in the Commission and in the European Union, to do what we can to protect our European businesses, especially SMEs", said Friday. the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

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"But the American sanctions will not be without effect".

In Sofia, we saw a show of European unity.

We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the "blocking statute" from 1996.

Once Iran's top trading partner and its second-biggest oil customer, the European Union has sought to pour hundreds of billions of euros into the Islamic Republic since the bloc, along with the United Nations and United States, lifted blanket economic sanctions in 2016 that had hurt the Iranian economy.

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

In a Friday statement, the Commission also said it "will continue and strengthen the ongoing sectoral cooperation with, and assistance to, Iran, including in the energy sector and with regard to small and medium-sized companies".

Billions of Euros worth of trade depend on saving the 2013 nuclear deal, which opened trade with Iran in exchange for limits of the country's nuclear programme. The measures include continuing to sell Iran's oil and gas products, maintaining effective banking transactions and protecting European investments in Iran.

Boris Johnson said this week that it is right to "protect legitimate United Kingdom and European businesses, who may want to trade with Iran, who do want to trade with Iran, and who have great plans to do that".

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