Europe's Vehicle For Iran Trade is Attempt to 'Break American Sanctions' - Pence

Hugh Fox
February 15, 2019

"Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been almost as cooperative" on Iran as countries in the Gulf have been, Pence said in an address to the ministerial.

While there was no immediate reaction from the allies Pence criticized, they have defended their moves to skirt sanctions.

According to Pence, the introduction of the INSTEX mechanism is "an ill-advised step" that could create distance between the United States and the European Union. And how they always get made when we say this? "They have a very expansionist foreign policy and that destabilizes other countries", said Hook when asked whether the absence of Germany and France's top diplomats at the meeting mattered.

Europe is keen to keep the UN-backed pact alive and has set up a "special objective vehicle" (SPV) enabling trade to continue by accepting payments from companies that want to deal with Iran, either by receiving waivers for oil imports or permissible trade in goods like food and medicine.

He called it an attempt to "break the American sanctions" against Iran. Jared Kushner, Trump's adviser and son-in-law, attended the session with Pence and was scheduled to give a talk on the "deal of a century" peace plan he has been working on for nearly two years.

He said the British, French, and German governments had "not been almost as cooperative" in backing America's anti-Iran policy as Israel and the Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Washington and the European Union are at odds over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, which calls for Iran to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. His office later said his comments had been mistranslated from Hebrew, and that he was calling for everyone to "combat" Iranian influence. The ministerial, initially billed as an effort to counter Iran, was notable in recent days primarily because it appeared Iran had disappeared from the agenda.

"By fully siding with the Israeli government, (the Americans) have tried to normalize the Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination", Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, wrote in a column published in Haaretz.

The Palestinians have refused to talk to Washington since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

"The Warsaw conference is part of this context", he wrote.

"A peace process can not be turned into an attempt to obtain amnesty for war crimes or to make one of the parties surrender its basic rights under the United Nations charter", he wrote.

One result of Netanyahu's campaign has been to put him into an unofficial coalition with Israel's longtime Arab adversaries that also dislike Iran.

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"What is important about this meeting - and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those - is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combatting Iran", he said.

The three countries - especially Turkey and Iran - do not agree on the final settlement in Syria, but have been uneasily co-operating to find a solution that does not betray their interests.

The conference came as 20 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard were killed in a suicide attack in the southeast of the country on Wednesday.

Tehran has described the 60-country meeting sponsored by the United States and Poland as an anti-Iran "circus".

Israel's prime minister, who met the Omani foreign minister on the sidelines on Wednesday, called the conference a "historical turning point" in tackling the threat from Iran.

He's long boasted that Israel has clandestinely developed good relations with several Arab states, despite a lack of official ties.

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