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European Commission nixes US sanctions against Iran on EU soil

The European Commission passes the first package of measures to shield EU firms in Iran from US sanctions

BRUSSELS, May 18. /TASS/. The European Commission on Friday passed the first package of measures on protecting the interests of EU companies investing in Iran from US sanctions, nullifying them on the EU territory, the official statement said.

"Following the green light of EU leaders at the informal meeting in Sofia (the EU-Western Balkans summit on May 16-17) , the European Commission has today taken steps to preserve the interests of European companies investing in Iran and demonstrate the EU's commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the Iran nuclear deal," the document said.

The European Commission has acted on four fronts. The first step was to activate the "blocking statute" that "forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them," the document says. The goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of US sanctions take effect.

The second step will be to "remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the European Union, in Iran."

The European Commission will also "continue and strengthen the ongoing sectoral cooperation with, and assistance to, Iran, including in the energy sector and with regard to small and medium-sized companies." Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete will travel to Tehran this weekend.

The European Commission is also encouraging member-states to "explore the possibility of one-off bank transfers to the Central Bank of Iran." "This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of US sanctions which could target EU entities active in oil transactions with Iran," the document says. According to European sources, this measure may become the EU’s first step towards ditching dollar in trade with Iran.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington quit the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for lifting the UN Security Council’s sanctions and unilateral restrictions introduced by the US and the EU. The White House said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provides Iran with opportunities for creating a nuclear bomb by evading all current restrictions. Trump vowed to reinstate the previous sanctions and introduce new restrictions should Tehran carry out its nuclear ambitions. The US president called for signing a new deal with Tehran. Meanwhile, Washington put forward demands, which cannot be implemented.

In the wake of Trump’s decision, the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany and France called on other participants in the deal to continue fulfilling it. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran would not abandon the JCPOA and would continue to comply with its obligations.