Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister has said that three major European countries: France, Germany and the UK, have agreed to maintain trade with Iran independent from the US dollar, Reuters reported on Monday.
The European countries are under increasing pressure from Washington to cut business ties with Tehran since US President Donald Trump has unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8 this year.
Trump also announced to reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans.
According to RT, a Russian international television network, Lavrov said that the decision particularly concerns small and medium-sized companies. He explained that the participants in the Iranian nuclear deal have agreed to work out measures to protect the countries’ business from US sanctions.
He has reportedly said, “Everyone agrees that this is an absolutely illegal and unacceptable policy, but, of course, this can hardly be changed and there will be enough struggle in trade, economic and political spheres.”
Last week, EU lawmakers gave approval for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to do business in Iran in an attempt to save the 2015 nuclear deal.
Siegfried Muresan, a lawmaker from the centre-right European People’s Party, while talking to Reuters, said, “We are granting the EIB the capacity to invest in Iran if suitable projects are found. The Iran deal is good for Europe’s security.”
US sanctions will be re-imposed in two phases, with a first round returning in August, and with the harshest sanctions returning in early November. The Iran nuclear deal was signed by five Security Council members: US, Russia, Britain, France and China plus Germany, also known as P5+1, in July 2015 and was implemented in January 2016.
Under the deal Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
After US President Donald Trump’s announcement of withdrawing from the multilateral deal European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal.
However, Tehran has conditioned its stay with deal to practical European strides to make sure Iran’s dividends from the deal would not be affected when US sanctions are re-imposed in August which would affect Iran’s automotive sector, gold trade and other industries.
Second set of sanctions on oil and transactions with the central bank of Iran are scheduled to come into effect in early November. European companies engaged in business with Iran face potential US penalties as most of the transactions are currently conducted in US dollars.
On Friday, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said that all the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal have political will to stand up to the US move to withdraw from the deal.
However, Zarif warned that if European side fails to properly fulfil their commitments, Tehran would take its own measures to counter the US move of withdrawing from the deal.