05:43 GMT +319 November 2019
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    An Iranian flag waves in a wind outside the Vienna International Centre hosting the United Nations (UN) headquarters and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

    Is Trump Bleeding European Companies White Because of Iran?

    © AFP 2019 / JOE KLAMAR
    Middle East
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    Just as the US ramps up economic pressure on Iran, the European Union is looking for ways to establish new financial channels to continue doing business with Tehran.

    Suspension of oil, goods and services exports from Iran would cost Europe at least $10 billion in lost revenue, the Austrian envoy to Iran, Stefan Schulz, has warned.

    At a meeting with foreign business representatives in Iran, Schulz said that the EU wants to maintain ties with Tehran and keep buying Iranian oil. He added that European companies would like to minimize their losses amid the threat of new US sanctions.

    In an interview with Sputnik Persia, independent Iranian economist Bahnam Molki said that if European countries, Russia and China act as one, they will be able to resist Trump’s policy.

    “Countries stand no chance challenging [Trump] one by one. The US has unleashed an economic war against China, Russia, Iran and some European countries,” the expert explained.

    He added that even though European companies, like Peugeot, which bend under US pressure and decide to wrap up their business in Iran may reap some gains, they will hardly be able to find a market as big and lucrative as Iran’s.

    What is also important, Molki noted, is whether the US sanctions on Iran are officially recognized by the EU.

    “Right now, the EU may set up a bank or establish contacts to get around the sanctions. If it does, it will be able to likewise bring pressure to bear on US companies,” Bahnam Molki emphasized.

    He believes that if the EU, Russia and China toe Washington’s line, the US might ramp up pressure on them that would be even stronger than was  exerted prior to August 6.

    On Tuesday, the United States reinstated sanctions on Iran that it had lifted just two years ago.

    The first wave of US sanctions targeting Iranian exports, the country's financial system and its ability to access the global financial system, took effect at midnight on Tuesday. A second wave of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector is scheduled to come into effect on November 4.

    The 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, eased sanctions previously imposed on Iran in exchange for Tehran curtailing its alleged nuclear weapons program.

    READ MORE: Trump: Anyone Doing Business With Iran Won't Be Doing It With US

    On May 8, President Donald Trump said that he was withdrawing the US from the nuclear agreement with Tehran and promised to impose the “highest level” of sanctions on the country’s energy, petrochemical and financial sectors, despite objections from Europe, as well as Russia and China, who have repeatedly defended the deal.

    On Monday, the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement condemning the new US sanctions on Iran.

    The European Union, for its part, has pledged to protect the interests of European companies that could suffer as a result of Washington’s sanctions.


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