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The EU faces a tough call on whether to hit back against a US squeeze on European companies’ dealings with Iran — but history offers the bloc only small comfort that it can prevail.
It would be unwise for any company to breach sanctions. Aside from the prospect of eroding shareholder value through penalties, it is bad corporate governance to knowingly debilitate reputation, brand value and incur opportunity costs. The risk is not just to the corporate entity — executives can face prosecution and jail. Corporations cannot afford to engage in wishful thinking like politicians. They are rational profit maximizers and the examples of ZTE, Commerzbank, and Deutsche Bank will chill European commercial activity with Iran.
The European Union reiterated its commitment to the Iran nuclear agreement while saying the current accord could be “a basis for future work.” Officials from Germany, Britain and France are due to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Brussels on Tuesday, and EU leaders are scheduled to discuss Iran at an informal dinner in Sofia on Wednesday.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to German, French and British counterparts in recent days to discuss cooperation over Iran, a State Department spokeswoman said on Monday a week after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. administration.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had a “very good and constructive” meeting with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, as the 28-nation bloc seeks to save the Iran nuclear agreement following last week’s U.S. withdrawal.
Russian Acting Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday it was possible to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal without the participation of the United States, the RIA news agency reported. Ryabkov also said it would be impossible to preserve the deal without Tehran making concessions, the Interfax news agency reported.
America’s withdrawal from the Iran deal and relocation of its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem send an unmistakable signal about the emerging Trump foreign policy: The administration wants to enlarge American power rather than adjust to decline.
The decision to break with the status quo in a time of apparent peace is always a risky venture that necessarily increases uncertainty. Nonetheless, the President should be commended for carrying through with his campaign promise to terminate the Iran deal.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Siemens (SIEGY) CEO Joe Kaeser said his company could not do any new business in Iran after President Donald Trump decided to ditch the deal and reimpose US sanctions.
Euro-denominated financing set up by European countries to trade with Iran will not be enough to sustain economic ties with Tehran in the face of U.S. sanctions, an adviser to the French president said on Tuesday.
European Union leaders will discuss on Wednesday shielding European companies doing business with Iran from U.S. sanctions, a senior official said as the bloc is in damage control mode following Washington’s withdrawal from a nuclear deal with Tehran.
America’s three closest friends in Europe — Britain, France and Germany — are near-bursting with anger and exasperation at the United States. In a frenzy of meetings and phone calls among them over the past week, their leaders have tried to figure out what they can do about President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran and his plans to impose sanctions on their companies that continue doing business there. The answer, they fear, is not much.
President Donald Trump on May 8 pulled the United States out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, sealed in 2015, and said he will re-impose economic sanctions on Iran… Below are reactions since Trump’s decision from companies most likely to be affected by the move to reimpose sanctions.
The threat of U.S. sanctions on European companies trading with Iran and tariffs on aluminum and steel exports are a test of European sovereignty and will require a firm response, an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.
If European powers are to succeed in holding together a nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. abandoned a week ago, then one issue they’ll need to consider is the insurance of oil tankers hauling the Persian Gulf country’s crude.
U.S. President Donald Trump has offered to help a Chinese technology giant [ZTE] that says it's being pushed out of business by U.S. penalties over its alleged violations of sanctions against Iran.
Global oil supplies are plentiful enough to withstand a “significant reduction” in petroleum exports from Iran, according to a White House memo issued on Monday as the Trump administration prepares to reimpose sanctions on the OPEC member nation.
Oil prices hit a 3-1/2-year high on Tuesday, supported by tight supply and planned U.S. sanctions against Iran that are likely to restrict crude oil exports from one of the biggest producers in the Middle East.
… President Trump’s decision to restore nuclear sanctions and terminate America’s adherence to the JCPOA risks putting Washington on a collision course with Europe. With sanctions kicking-in between the next 90 to 180 days, all attention will be on the efficacy of American tools of financial pressure. In the interim, Washington must not lose sight of managing Europe’s reaction and preventing Iran from taking advantage of fissures in the trans-Atlantic alliance.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran may suffer from military disadvantages, but that doesn't stop it from being a major military player in the Middle East. DW breaks down Iran's military strengths and three parts of its asymmetric defense strategy.
Five decades in, Iran’s F-14s are only getting better and better. And more and more important to the Persian state’s defense.
The United States Navy is closely watching Iranian behavior in the Gulf and expects a “period of uncertainty” and increased level of alertness after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Iran, the U.S. Navy chief said on Monday.
SYRIA, RUSSIA, HEZBOLLAH, ISRAEL & IRAN
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said Monday a barrage of rockets from Syria against Israeli forces in the occupied Goal Heights last week opens up “a new phase” in the conflict, warning that Israel proper could be the next target for retaliation.
Following an Iranian rocket attack Thursday launched from Syria against Israel that prompted the Jewish state to send warplanes and missiles into Syria to destroy Iranian military targets, the Trump administration needs to rethink its Middle East policy. The central question now facing President Trump and his national security team is what – if anything – they will do to prevent the Iranian-Israeli conflict from erupting into a regional war that engulfs American allies in the Middle East and possibly draws in the United States as well.
The Iranian judiciary should immediately halt the looming execution of a member of the Gonabadi Dervish community, Human Rights Watch said today. Iran should also release all Dervish members arbitrarily detained since February 2018.
Detained British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could appear in an Iranian court to face fresh charges, her family says… Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held at Evin Prison in Tehran following her arrest in April 2016 as she attempted to return home from a holiday with her 21-month-old daughter Gabriella.
[A] wave of hijab protests since January have shown women openly defying the law, filming public acts of unveiling that have been widely shared online. In response, the government has arrested at least 29 women; one has already been sentenced to two years in prison… VICE News spoke to Masih Alinejad about how the online protest movement gained momentum — and where it's going from here.
IRAQ & IRAN
Nationalist Shi’ite Cleric Moqtada al Sadr took a surprise lead in Iraq’s elections by tapping into public resentment with Iran and what some voters say is a corrupt political elite it supports.
Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s apparent political breakthrough in national elections is forcing the U.S. and Iran to confront the prospect that a frequent critic of both is poised to take the lead in selecting Iraq’s next premier.
These internal disputes are taking place as the two main foreign forces in Iraq, the U.S. and Iran, head toward greater hostility. The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the possibility of escalation, as well as the parliamentary gains made by former militia members, could turn Iraq once again into a war theater.