In a major snub to the United States, the European Union (EU) has chose to set up a new mechanism to enable legal trade with Iran without encountering U.S. sanctions.
Five world powers and Iran late on Monday agreed to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iranian imports and exports, including oil - a key move sought by Tehran following the United States pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its reimposition of sanctions. The U.S. has also accused Iran of promoting global terrorism, which Tehran vehemently denies.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement earlier this year and imposed sanctions on businesses dealing with Tehran.
The European Union and Iran, along with Russian Federation and China, said they were determined to "protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran" in a statement issued after high-level talks at the United Nations.
The statement said the six nations that signed the 2015 nuclear agreement "reconfirmed their commitment to its full and effective implementation in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere". As Mogherini put it, the more actions the JCPOA parties take to live up to their end of the bargain, the more reasons Iran has to remain in the deal. "If (U.S. President Donald) Trump wants to talk to Iran, then he first should return to the (2015) nuclear deal first", the ISNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying in a meeting with senior editors of foreign media in NY.
On Thursday, Trump called on OPEC to lower prices, after benchmark Brent oil reached $80 a barrel, mainly stemming from a decline in exports from Iran, because of fresh USA sanctions.
Meanwhile, the EU has vowed to stick with the deal and updated legislation to protect European companies from future sanctions.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini talks to the media as she arrives for the informal meeting of European Union leaders ahead of the EU summit, in Salzburg, Austria, September 19, 2018.
"Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran's exports, including oil", the group said in a joint statement issued after the statement.
The European Union until now had faced difficulties devising a workable legal framework to shield its companies from United States sanctions that go into effect in November.
"So the Europeans want to try and save the agreement and they're seeing this as really the last chance".
Rodger Shanahan, a research fellow at the Lowry Institute for International Policy, called the European Union agreement "a poke in the eye for the US".
"They have been quite upset about going against worldwide norms of pulling out of the agreement".
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