Speaking to the French broadcaster BFMTV, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire voiced hope that the United States would allow the Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR to deliver its regional planes to Iran before the August 6 deadline, when the first batch of sanctions will be introduced.
“I am hopeful that the United States will give us permission to deliver these ATRs. There were eight to be delivered before August 6,” he told the French broadcaster.
Le Maire further explained that he has been involved in talks with his American counterpart and was willing to discuss the future of other sectors:
“I’ve been negotiating for weeks with my counterpart, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and I’m hopeful we’ll get on a number of topics that directly affect our SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and our jobs in US-owned territories. I’m also fighting so that in the health sector, in the agri-food sector, which are now beyond the sanctions, there may be funding channels that remain open,” the minister said.
In a June interview to LaTribune.fr, ATR CEO Christian Scherer said that supplies of the remaining aircraft ordered by Iran “could be impacted given the Iranian context.”
He emphasized that even though Tehran still wanted to take those planes, “ATR will not take any risk of falling out with US authorities and exposing our shareholders Leonardo and Airbus to US sanctions.”
“The Americans have promised a three-month period to allow companies to deliver the materials that were in production. For the aviation industry, this three-month period is ridiculously short.
Deliveries of ATRs were suspended in May after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, and announced its decision to reinstate sanctions against Tehran.
Even though ATR is a European-based company, it contains more than 10 percent of US-made parts, which means the firm must approve any export with the United States.
In June, the EU member-states asked Washington for a waiver from sanctions on their companies doing business with Iran, but Steven Mnuchin and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected the appeal in a letter to European nations.
“We’ve said very specifically, there are no blanket waivers, there’s no grandfathering. We want to be very careful in the wind-down around the energy markets to make sure that people have the time. We will seek to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime,” the letter read.
The letter came despite certain signals from Mike Pompeo, who had somewhat hinted that Washington might consider exempting some European countries from secondary sanctions.
“There will be a handful of countries that come to the United States and ask for relief… We’ll consider it,” he told Sky News Arabia during his July visit to Abu Dhabi.