"U.S. sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately," Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany tweeted on the same night the scrapping of the deal was announced.
Carl Bildt, the former leader of Sweden who is now co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, highlighted that the sanctions would have the biggest impact beyond America's borders.
"U.S. Iran sanctions are hardly hitting any U.S. companies, but aim primarily at European ones," he said in a tweet. (Euronews)
Trump has now directed maximum economic sanctions to be applied. This is nothing less than a massive assault on the sovereignty of European states and the European Union.
Europe's response to Trump's announcement is to potentially shield individual European companies from US pressure by deploying its so-called “blocking statute,” banning EU companies from complying with Washington’s sanctions and protecting them from penalties imposed by overseas courts.
There is a precedent. Washington issued a similar threat against European companies in 1996 over Cuba. The EU evoked the “blocking statute” and the Clinton government backed down.
Thus Brussels is now considering it and a final decision is expected at the European Summit in Sofia on May 17. Right after the summit, European Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete is expected in Tehran for consultations on May 18.
The EU could open a credit line to Iran in Euros and continue to absorb Iranian oil; Italy already has a €5bn credit line for investment in the Islamic Republic. These combined moves would keep the agreement afloat. The question is whether all EU 28 have the consensus to play hardball with Washington. (New Europe)