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French Finance Minister: Europe Under US Pressure Over INSTEX

French Finance Minister: Europe Under US Pressure Over INSTEXFrench Finance Minister: Europe Under US Pressure Over INSTEX

European powers are facing huge pressure from the United States to drop its proposed trade channel with Iran and it will also not succumb to ultimatums from Tehran, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Britain, France and Germany (E3), which signed a 2015 nuclear deal (formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran along with the US, China and Russia, are determined to show they can compensate for last year’s US withdrawal from the accord, and protect trade with Iran. 
As part of those efforts, a special trade channel known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX) was jointly set up by E3 in February to facilitate trade with Iran through a non-dollar system in order to circumvent the US sanctions reimposed by Washington last November. 
Despite creation of INSTEX, the mechanism is not yet operational, causing mounting criticisms leveled against the bloc, both in and outside of Iran, for its inability and unwillingness to demonstrate its determination to do the right thing against US lawlessness and economic aggression. 
European procrastination over operationalzing INSTEX is attributed to their concerns about the potential US hostile reaction toward European companies trading with Iran within INSTEX.   
“Yes, there is American pressure. It’s strong, very strong and very direct on this subject,” Le Maire told reporters in Paris.
“There is pressure on political officials, the administration and all those who are implicated on this subject.”
Tension between Washington and Tehran has escalated this month. The US wants its European allies to fall behind its policy of putting maximum pressure on Iran through sanctions to push it to fresh negotiations on a broader arms control deal.

 

Hurting the Process 

Le Maire said that as well as the US pressure, daily threats by Iran to withdraw from the agreement were also making its talks on creating the trade channel more difficult.
“Iran is constantly threatening to break the agreement and that doesn’t facilitate the possibility of trade,” he said.
Iran has warned the European powers that it could renege on key parts of the nuclear deal after 60 days if oil exports did not drastically increase.
“I do not think that Europe will give into an ultimatum,” Le Maire said.
Europeans passivity toward the financial channel in recent months has increasingly given rise to the idea that the bloc is unable to launch the mechanism, causing many to lose hope on the initiative. 
In a recent development on Tuesday, the head of Iran’s Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission voiced doubt over the implementation of an EU-designed payment channel. 
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said the Europeans have so far proved that they are not independent actors, and are merely waiting to see what unfolds between Iran and the US. 
“European countries are in fact planning to remain as [passive] actors until then, without doing anything to influence the developments,” the senior MP told Mehr News Agency.
“Those who believe it is the EU that should save JCPOA, are misguided because the Europeans are merely dangling from the accord and can’t save it.” 

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