Iran seeking to bypass US sanctions even if Europe doesn’t maintain oil ties

Iranian FM says EU not yet willing to ‘pay the price’ for defying Washington

Source: Times of Israel (TOI)

By TOI STAFF and AFP

Senior Iranian officials on Sunday urged European countries to lay out plans for maintaining oil and banking ties with the Islamic Republic despite impending US sanctions, but added that even if that doesn’t happen, Tehran was seeking other ways to bypass the White House-led restrictions.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Europe had not yet shown it was willing to “pay the price” of defying Washington in order to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

He told Iran’s Young Journalist Club website that despite European governments putting forward proposals to maintain oil and banking ties with Iran after the second phase of US sanctions goes into effect in November, those measures were more “a statement of their position than practical measures.”

“Although they have moved forward, we believe that Europe is not yet ready to pay the price (of truly defying the US),” Zarif said.

“Iran can respond to Europe’s political will when it is accompanied by practical measures,” said Zarif. “Europeans say the JCPOA (nuclear deal) is a security achievement for them. Naturally each country must invest and pay the price for its security. We must see them paying this price in the coming months.”

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in 2016 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri went a step further, telling the state-run IRNA news agency that “we are hopeful that the European countries can meet their commitments but even if they cannot, we are seeking solutions to sell our oil and transfer its revenues,” Reuters reported.

Jahangiri did not specify what those solutions were.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May, and began reimposing sanctions earlier this month that block other countries from trading with Iran.

A second phase of sanctions targeting Iran’s crucial oil industry and banking relations will return on November 5.

Europe has vowed to keep providing Iran with the economic benefits it received from the nuclear deal, but many of its bigger companies have already pulled out of the country for fear of US penalties.

Also on Sunday, an Iranian diplomat demanded that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reject Saudi Arabia’s proposal to increase its oil production to take over Tehran’s share of exports in face of the US sanctions, accusing Riyadh of “trying to politicize” the international organization.

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran back in May. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

“No country is allowed to take over the share of other members for production and exports of oil under any circumstance, and the OPEC Ministerial Conference has not issued any license for such actions,” Kazem Gharibabadi, the Iranian envoy to OPEC, told OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, according to Iran’s oil ministry’s news agency SHANA, quoted by Reuters.

“Iran believes that OPEC should strongly support its members at this stage and stop the plots of countries trying to politicize this organization,” Gharibabadi added.