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.


Oil prices near 2019 highs after US ends all Iran sanction exemptions

Updated 23 April 2019
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Oil prices near 2019 highs after US ends all Iran sanction exemptions

  • Iran’s main oil buyers initially received sanction exemptions
  • US reiterates its goal to cut Iran oil exports to zero

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were near 2019 highs on Tuesday after Washington announced all Iran sanction waivers would end by May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.
Brent crude futures were at $74.40 per barrel at 0239 GMT, up 0.5 percent from their last close and not far off a 2019 peak of $74.52 reached on Monday.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit their highest level since October 2018 at $65.95 per barrel before edging back to $65.89 by 0239 GMT, which was still up 0.5 percent from their last settlement.
The United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.
Before the reimposition of sanctions last year, Iran was the fourth-largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at almost 3 million barrels per day (bpd), but April exports have shrunk well below 1 million bpd, according to ship tracking and analyst data in Refinitiv.
Barclay’s bank said in a note following the announcement that the decision took many market participants by surprise and that the move would “lead to a significant tightening of oil markets.”
The British bank added that Washington’s target to cut Iran oil exports to zero posed a “material upside risk to our current $70 per barrel average price forecast for Brent this year, compared with the year-to-date average of $65 per barrel.”
ANZ bank said in a note on Tuesday that “the decision is likely to worsen the ongoing supply woes being felt with Venezuelan sanctions, the OPEC supply cut, and intensifying conflict in Libya.”
The move to tighten Iran sanctions comes amid other sanctions Washington has placed on Venezuela’s oil exports and also as producer club OPEC has led supply cuts since the start of the year aimed at tightening global oil markets and propping up crude prices.
Ellen Wald, non-resident senior fellow at the Global Energy Center of the Atlantic Council, said the United States “seem to expect” Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to replace the Iranian oil, but she added “that this is not necessarily the way Saudi Arabia sees it.”
Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil and OPEC’s de-facto leader. The group is set to meet in June to discuss its output policy.
“Should OPEC decide to end their supply cut program going into the second half of the year, this could limit oil’s upside in the coming months,” said Lukman Otunuga, analyst at futures brokerage FXTM.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council said the US move would hurt Iranian citizens.
“We’re going to see their currency collapse more, more unemployment, more inflation,” said Barbara Slavin, director for the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, adding that the US sanctions were “not going to bring Iran back to the (nuclear) negotiating table.”