EU says encouraging trade with Iran is crucial to nuke deal

People buy fruits and vegetables in the Iranian capital Tehran. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018
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EU says encouraging trade with Iran is crucial to nuke deal

  • The United States reimposed stiff economic sanctions on Iran on Monday
  • A first set of reimposed US sanctions affect financial transactions that involve US dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the EU is encouraging enterprises to increase their business with Iran, as that country has been compliant with their nuclear-related commitments.
Mogherini told reporters Tuesday during her trip to Wellington, New Zealand, that it’s up to Europeans to decide who they want to trade with.
“We are doing our best to keep Iran in the deal, to keep Iran benefiting from the economic benefits that the agreement brings to the people of Iran because we believe this is in the security interests of not only our region, but also of the world. If there is one piece of international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation that is delivering, it has to be maintained,” Mogherini said.
The United States reimposed stiff economic sanctions on Iran on Monday, ratcheting up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies, three months after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the international accord limiting Iran’s nuclear activities.
Trump declared the landmark 2015 agreement had been “horrible,” leaving the Iranian government flush with cash to fuel conflict in the Middle East.
Iran accused the US of reneging on the nuclear agreement, signed by the Obama administration, and of causing recent Iranian economic unrest.
European allies said they “deeply regret” the US action.
Trump said in a statement, “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”
A first set of reimposed US sanctions affect financial transactions that involve US dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.
A second batch of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November.
Trump warned that those who don’t wind down their economic ties to Iran “risk severe consequences.”
European ministers said the Iran deal was crucial for Europe’s and the world’s security, and the European Union issued a “blocking statute” Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.
Mogherini, speaking at a news conference alongside New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, said the EU and New Zealand saw the need to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran, notwithstanding the US withdrawal, and that she and Peters had discussed in detail how to keep open trade and financial channels with Iran.
“We are encouraging small and medium enterprises in particular to increase business with and in Iran as part of something (that) for us is a security priority,” Mogherini said, explaining that trade is an integral part of the nuclear deal.
Trade between Iran and the EU “is a fundamental aspect of the Iranian right to have an economic advantage in exchange for what they have done so far, which is being compliant with all their nuclear-related commitments,” Mogherini said.


‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

Updated 20 September 2018
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‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

  • Trump highlights US security role in region
  • Comments come ahead of oil producers meeting in Algeria

LONDON: US president Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices on Thursday while reminding Mideast oil exporters of US security support.
He made his remarks on Twitter ahead of a keenly awaited meeting of OPEC countries and its allies in Algiers this weekend as pressure mounts on them to prevent a spike in prices caused by the reimposition of oil sanctions on Iran.
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.
“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Despite the threat, the group and its allies are unlikely to agree to an official increase in output, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing OPEC sources.
In June they agreed to increase production by about one million barrels per day (bpd). That decision was was spurred by a recovery in oil prices, in part caused by OPEC and its partners agreeing to lower production since 2017.
Known as OPEC+, the group of oil producers which includes Russia are due to meet on Sunday in Algiers to look at how to allocate the additional one million bpd within its quote a framework.
OPEC sources told Reuters that there was no immediate plan for any official action as such a move would require OPEC to hold what it calls an extraordinary meeting, which is not on the table.
Oil prices slipped after Trumps remarks, with Brent crude shedding 40 cents to $79 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London while US light crude was unchanged at about $71.12.
Brent had been trading at around $80 on expectations that global supplies would come under pressure from the introduction of US sanctions on Iranian crude exports on Nov. 4.
Some countries has already started to halt imports from Tehran ahead of that deadline, leading analysts to speculate about how much spare capacity there is in the Middle East to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports as well as how much of that spare capacity can be easily brought online after years of under-investment in the industry.
Analysts expect oil to trend higher and through the $80 barrier as the deadline for US sanctions approaches.
“Brent is definitely fighting the $80 line, wanting to break above,” said SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop, Reuters reported. “But this is likely going to break very soon.”