US urged not to punish EU companies over Iran

US urged not to punish EU companies over Iran

PARIS – Agence France-Presse 
US urged not to punish EU companies over Iran

France, Britain, Germany and the EU sent the United States on June 6 a joint official request for their companies to be exempt from punitive measures resulting from fresh U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“As allies, we expect that the United States will refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests,” said the letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the three countries and the EU were asking the US “to exempt European businesses doing legitimate trade in Iran from all extraterritorial American sanctions.”

“Those businesses must be able to pursue their activities,” he wrote on Twitter.

The plea comes as European leaders scramble to save the hard-fought deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015 under which

Tehran agreed to limits on its nuclear capacities in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was abandoning the deal last month - which will mean new sanctions on the Islamic republic and punitive measures for those who trade with it.

Analysts say European firms which have rushed to invest in Iran after the lifting of sanctions over the past three years have the most to lose from the renewed sanctions.

Several major companies including France’s Total and the Netherlands’ Maersk have already said it will be impossible to stay in Iran once the sanctions are fully re-imposed over the next six months, unless they receive explicit exemptions from Washington.

French automaker PSA said on June 4 that it would pull out of two joint ventures to sell its cars in Iran to avoid the risk of punishing fines.

China urged all parties to the Iran nuclear deal to uphold the pact on June 6 after Tehran unveiled plans to boost uranium enrichment capacity following Washington’s pullout from the agreement.

“Under the current situation, we hope that all parties concerned can proceed with the long-term and overall interests in mind and continue to sustain and implement the agreement,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing.

“A comprehensive agreement and a thorough and balanced implementation of its obligations will help maintain the international system to ensure nuclear non-proliferation and help maintain peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.