14.09.2018 | Britain leads plan to help all EU nations avoid Iran-US oil sanctions
Source - Speigel
Donald Trump has decreed countries maintaining trade links with the Islamic Republic will be subject to fresh sanctions from November.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington are running high following Mr Trump’s controversial decision to pull out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal and re-introduce punitive economic sanctions.
The latest measures threaten Iran's oil industry which is a major source of government funding and will put further pressure on the relatively moderate leader Hassan Rouhani.
But according to German newspaper Speigel, Britain, Germany and France are working on a scheme to avoid the sanctions while keeping the oil supply open.
And London’s role in the three-way negotiations is being seen as key as it shows Britain is still keen to work with EU states and can still be a close partner after Brexit.
The three countries want to establish a financial institution whose sole purpose is to process payments for transactions with Tehran - bypassing the usual financing channels.
The new institution will not be a bank but instead take the legal form of a so-called “special purpose vehicle”.
The foundation of the special purpose entity is understood by the three countries as an act of European sovereignty and the new facility will be open to companies from all EU member states.
Britain, Germany, France and the rest of the EU want to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran and continue to allow trade with the country.
Traditional banks are unwilling to do business with Iran because they fear punitive US sanctions.
Spiegel said German finance minister Olaf Scholz had met British and French colleagues several times to discuss the measure.
The Italian government is also interested in becoming involved in the special purpose vehicl
Iran's nuclear chief said he hoped the atomic deal between Tehran and world powers could survive Washington's withdrawal but warned his country's nuclear programme would be in a stronger position than ever if not.
The remarks by Ali Akbar Salehi, who also serves as a vice president to Iran's elected leader Hassan Rouhani, come as Iran tries to salvage the accord.
Mr Trump’s decision to walk away from the deal and the return of US sanctions has already rocked Iran's fragile economy and crashed its rial currency.