Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, has admonished European banks and firms against doing business with the Islamic Republic, citing the risk of newly re-instated American sanctions.
"European banks and European companies know that we will vigorously enforce sanctions against this brutal and violent regime," Hook said on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters. "Any major European company will always choose the American market over the Iranian market."
His remark came in an apparent response to plans by European diplomats to set up the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which would facilitate trade between European companies and Iran through a barter exchange operated in euros and thus unaffected by US dollar-denominated sanctions.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has asked several states to host the mechanism but no one has come forward so far, for fear of putting local banks at risk of facing US punishment.
However, according to European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, the bloc has not given up on its attempts to keep Iran within the collapsing deal. "We Europeans cannot accept that a foreign power, not even our closest friend and ally, takes decisions over our legitimate trade with another country," she told the EU lawmakers.
In May, Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The accord, brokered under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, curbed Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions.
However, Trump claimed that the agreement was "poorly negotiated" and that it allowed Tehran to continue enriching uranium, as it was allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons. He moved to ratchet up pressure on Iran by re-imposing crippling economic sanctions on the country and companies doing business with it.
However, the other signatories to the deal: Iran, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union, denounced the US withdrawal and pledged to stick to the agreement.