Eye on Iran: European Firms Start Pulling Back from Iran

TOP STORIES

European Firms Start Pulling Back from Iran | Wall Street Journal

European firms have started pulling back investment and abandoning commitments in Iran, responding to a decision last week to reimpose broad American sanctions on Tehran by year end.

US, Qatar, Gulf Nations Join to Bolster Hezbollah Sanctions | Associated Press

Qatar and its adversaries in the Persian Gulf crisis have finally agreed to do something together: join the U.S. in placing terror sanctions on the Iranian ally Hezbollah. The U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf nations are slapping sanctions on Hezbollah’s senior leadership.

EU Says Block on U.S. Sanctions on Iran of Limited Use for EU Banks | Reuters

Using European Union powers to ban banks in the bloc from complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran would be of “limited” use given the global reach of finance, the EU’s financial services chief said on Thursday.

 

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Ending Iran Nuclear Deal Would Be Major Security Threat, EU Says | Bloomberg

The European Union warned that ending the Iran nuclear deal would be a “major threat” to security in the Middle East as the bloc prepared measures to protect its companies if the Trump administration re-imposes sanctions following the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement.

 

Merkel Defends Nuclear Deal, Iran Says Won't 'Surrender' to U.S. | Reuters

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back on Wednesday against Washington’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, saying the accord helped outside powers worried about Tehran’s regional role to pursue their concerns with the Islamic Republic.

EU Official Insists Nuclear Deal with Iran Must Prevail | Associated Press

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says that all efforts must be made to keep the Iran nuclear agreement alive despite the U.S. pullout because “to end the deal would gravely threaten the peace and security in this tumultuous region.

 

EU Leaders Struggle to Save Iran Economic Ties from U.S. Sanctions | Reuters

 

European Union leaders agreed on Wednesday to try to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive and maintain their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact. But the 28 EU leaders did not make any quick decisions during their first meeting on the matter since Trump quit the accord earlier this month, highlighting how U.S. clout in international trade and finance limits the Europeans’ scope for action.

 

EU's Tough Choice: Analysts Say Staying in Iran Deal Is an Option If... | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

 

European officials eager to salvage 2-year-old nuclear curbs on Iran are said to be exploring ways to ensure Tehran's continued participation following the U.S. decision to abandon the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), under which Tehran limited sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

Total Stops Iran Gas Project As Risk from Sanctions Too High | Bloomberg

Total SA said it will not risk investing in Iran following the return of U.S. sanctions, unless it can secure a waiver. Continuing to do business in Iran would be too great a risk as the company has large operations in the U.S. and depends on the country’s banks for financing its operations, Total said in a statement Wednesday.

 

Maersk Says U.S. Sanctions Make Doing Business in Iran Impossible | Reuters

 

The world’s largest container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk said Thursday it would shut down its business in Iran to abide with reimposed sanctions after Washington pulled the United States from a nuclear accord. “With the sanctions the Americans are to impose, you can’t do business in Iran if you also have business in the U.S., and we have that on a large scale,” Soren Skou told Reuters in an interview following the firm’s first-quarter report.

EU Firms Will Make Their Own Call on Iran Business: Macron | Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday Europe would try to protect its companies doing business with Iran from U.S. sanctions, reimposed over Tehran’s nuclear program, but said giants like Total would make their own choices.

 

Iran Signs Agreement with British Consortium to Develop Oil | Associated Press

 

Iranian state TV is reporting that Tehran has signed an agreement with a British consortium to develop an oil field in the country’s south. The agreement is the first between Iran and a key Western ally of the United States since Washington last week announced it will pull out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers. Managing Director of Pergas International Consortium Colin Rowley, and Bijan Alipour, managing director of National Iranian South Oil Co., signed a preliminary deed on the partnership in the presence of British Ambassador Rob Macaire in Tehran.

 

U.S. Financial Sanctions On Iran Net A Freshly Minted Iraqi Lawmaker | Tamer El-Ghobashy for Washington Post

 

On Monday, [Aras] Habib, chairman of a Baghdad bank, celebrated winning a seat in Iraq's parliament following a nationwide vote on Saturday. On Tuesday, he was among three people sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for allegedly funneling money for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

Factbox: Company Deals at Risk From U.S. Sanctions On Iran | Reuters

 

Following is a list of companies that could be affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Iran and impose sanctions on Tehran.

 

Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions-Busting Case Sentenced to 32 Months | New York Times

 

A Turkish banker who was convicted of taking part in a billion-dollar conspiracy to violate United States sanctions on Iran was sentenced to 32 months in prison on Wednesday in Manhattan, a far shorter term than prosecutors had sought.

SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL & IRAN

Iran Maneuvers Around Gaps to Preserve Interests in Syria | Al Monitor

[A]s Western states endeavor to redefine their role on the Syrian stage, Iran has felt the need to adapt its approach to the new equations.

 

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Rouhani Urges ‘Internal Rivals’ to Direct Blows at US Administration | Asharq Al-Awsat (U.K.)

The day after the meeting of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif with his counterparts from France, Germany and Britain, President Hassan Rowhani criticized the critics of the nuclear deal in the Iranian internal circles, calling on them to direct their blows at the United States' Administration.

 

NORTH KOREA & IRAN

Scrapping Iran Deal Provides a Trump Card with North Korea | Ilan Berman for the Hill

Among proponents of the 2015 agreement with Iran’s ayatollahs engineered by the Obama White House, Trump’s pullout was condemned as ill-advised for a host of reasons, not least because it complicates America’s planned negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After all, these critics argue, why would Pyongyang trust a Washington that doesn’t honor its international obligations? That argument, however, is flat wrong. In fact, President Trump’s decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal actually strengthens his bargaining position vis-à-vis Pyongyang, and it increases the pressure on the North Korean regime to make meaningful concessions regarding its strategic arsenal if the two leaders meet next month in Singapore as planned.