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European Companies Flee Iran to Avoid US Sanctions

European Companies Flee Iran to Avoid US Sanctions

“Washington has threatened to hold anyone doing prohibited business in Iran to account.” Germany’s state-run DW News confirms

European companies are leaving the Islamic Republic of Iran in droves fearing U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump’s decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this month. The regime in Tehran is “particularly concerned by the decisions of various European companies to halt their Iranian operations until the future of sanctions was clear,” several German newspapers reported on Monday.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Iranian Foreign Minister said. The statement comes days after the French oil company Total pulled out $5 billion worth of investments from the country fearing U.S. sanctions.

The EU, backed by the governments of France and Germany, has been scrambling to save the European business interests in Iran. German and French companies had made huge investments in Iranian oil and industrial sectors since the nuclear deal eased sanction on the regime three years ago.

The EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the bloc’s executive arm, proposed enacting laws to allow European companies to ignore the U.S. sanctions. This so-called ‘blocking statute’ could protect European firms from prosecution by the U.S. Treasury and other agencies.

The Trump administration has made its intentions clear to go after any foreign player found guilty of sanctions-busting in Iran. “US withdrawal and new raft of sanctions will hurt a number of European firms with connections to Iran. Washington has threatened to hold anyone doing prohibited business in Iran to account.” Germany’s state-run DW News confirmed.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s comments that were made at a meeting with a senior EU official in Tehran:

Iran has called for EU’s support in saving the nuclear deal–primarily through more European investments.

Europe declares its political commitment to the deal, but large European companies want to pull out of the country, complained the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Iran doesn’t consider the political support from the European Union to be sufficient to save the nuclear deal. Country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made that clear during his meeting with the EU Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete. The EU needs to undertake practical measures “in order to increase investments in Iran,” Zarif said–as reported by Iran’s state-run news agency. The EU commitment to the nuclear deal is not in tune with the calls made by big European companies to leave Iran.

Several foreign companies have suspended their operations in Iran while they wait for the outcome of the talks within the EU. Last week, the French oil company Total announced its decision to end an investment project worth $4.8 billion if the company fails to get an approval from Washington. [Translation by the author]

The exodus of European investments from Iran is a diplomatic win for the Trump administration that has been urging the Western companies to end operations in Iran.

Earlier this month, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that “it’s possible” for the European companies to face sanctions if they continued doing business with Tehran. The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell called upon the German firms to stop trading with Iran. “US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” Ambassador Grenell said.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a list of demands to Tehran: calling on the regime to immediately cease its nuclear program, end military activity throughout the Middle East and release all U.S. nationals held on spurious charges. He threatened “strongest sanctions in history” if Iran fails to comply.

The reaction from Tehran shows that European investors aren’t buying the assurances being given by the EU commissars. Many of the French and German companies fleeing Iran have profitable operations in the U.S. and don’t want to jeopardize their business relations across the Atlantic just to make a quick buck in Iran. With President Trump and the members of his administration acting in unison on the issue of Iran, European companies–unlike the EU officials–seem to have grasped the firmness of the U.S. resolve.

Watch: Secretary of State Pompeo issues a list of demands to Iran:

[Cover image via YouTube]


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Amazing what America can accomplish with strong leadership.

The Establishment is still drafting a non-binding strongly worded memo that everyone would ignore as more Failure Theater.

Smart power. PTL. The USA finally has an administration that can draw a redline and not wet themselves from the pushback.

Winning. How sweet.

JohnSmith100 | May 22, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Iran reminds me of big ant hills (3′ Dia x 1′ high) we had on our farm when I was a kid. We sure had fun showing those ants who was boss.

Ants are smarter than Iranians.

This is another big Trump win, and just like the embassy, a big slap across Obama’s face. What is ironic is that Obama set them up, and now Iran is whining. They will no doubt do something stupid, and then we can start knocking out hydroelectric dams.

    In Oregon, 1 cup gasoline, 1 match = 1 less anthill, or…1 shovel, 1 can bug killer, repeat as needed = 1 less anthill. Either way, fun to do, fun to watch, bug free fruit, healthy crop. MAGA.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to bear. | May 22, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      I used calcium carbide, dig hole in middle, throw calcium carbide in, fill hole, stand back and throw match. every hole becomes an acelitine torch.

      Did the same with chlorine bleach, add a bit of acid = chlorine gas.

      We used to blow stumps with well known high nitrogen fertilizer, The problem with that and ant hills is that a lot of shovel work was required.

Interesting contrast.

Under Obama, with the deal in place, Iran actually went ahead and kidnapped Americans – for whom Obama paid to have them released.

Under Trump, the US is demanding that US hostages be released. (And when is the last time Iran harassed US ships?)

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Daled Amos. | May 22, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    The demand needs to be backed up with deadlines and harsh penalties. Set a one week deadline, at which time we destroy one of Iran’s hydroelectric dams. Set second week deadline and destroy two more hydroelectric dams. Continue binary sequence of doubling each week until they are released or all dams are destroyed. The consider starting on the rest of their power infrastructure.
    Also, programing drones to look for those white hats, and terminating all clerics might be a good move.
    I like the idea of extracting retribution with compounded interest from 1979.

Bitterlyclinging | May 22, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Could the rapid response be because America now says what it means and means what it says?
Instead of the Waffle House it used to be?

Didn’t Obama and his merry band of liars promise us that the sanctions would “snap back” immediately if Iran was found to be in violation of the agreement? Haven’t they been found to be in violation of the agreement? Why then are these threats even necessary?

    Milhouse in reply to Paul. | May 23, 2018 at 1:21 am

    They were telling the truth about the snap-back clause. It’s rock solid. At any time Trump can inform the SecGen that he believes Iran is in violation of the deal. No evidence is necessary. 30 days later all the UN sanctions automatically come back, unless the Security Council passes a new resolution to stop them, which the US can veto. There is literally nothing the EU or anyone else can do to stop it, and while Russia and China will ignore the sanctions just like they did before, the EU will be forced to obey them. (The only exception is already-signed contracts, so there’d be a signing rush in those 30 days.)

    Trump has chosen not to invoke this clause. I don’t know why.

      rdm in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 5:48 am

      Because the UN should be sidelined in all things.

        Milhouse in reply to rdm. | May 23, 2018 at 12:50 pm

        In the view of every court in Europe, the UN makes binding international law, which they must enforce regardless of their respective governments’ or legislatures’ wishes.

      Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 11:12 am

      “Trump has chosen not to invoke this clause. I don’t know why.”

      Because the members of the Trump administration are not stupid.

      The UN has NO POWER to do anything, but talk. That is all. The way that the UN enforces its “mandates” is through the actions of the five permanent members of the Security Council [China, France, Russia, the UK and the US]. The EU is not a member. The enforcement arm of the UN is, essentially these five countries. So, what happens if the US demands that the UN sanctions “snap-back” into place and the rest of the Security Council refuses to honor them or take any action against violators? The US is forced to go it alone, which it is doing now anyway, and suffers a very public foreign policy leadership defeat.

      The US is much better off doing exactly what they are doing now. Minimizing the power of the UN and maximizing the power of the US, through unilateral action.

        Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | May 23, 2018 at 12:48 pm

        The way that the UN enforces its “mandates” is through the actions of the five permanent members of the Security Council

        That is bullsh*t. 1. The permanent members have no more role than the other members; their only privilege is the veto power. 2. Security Council resolutions made under the appropriate chapter are binding on all UN members, whether they happen to be on the council that year or not. All EU members are UN members, and were therefore bound by the Iran sanctions, and their courts enforced them. If Trump were to invoke the snap-back the same situation would return. The old UN sanctions would one again, in the view of every European court, be binding international law which they would enforce regardless of their respective governments’ wishes.

          Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 1:03 pm

          Do you really have NO idea how the world works?

          Legislatures or regulatory bodies have NO POWER unless they have some mechanism to enforce their edicts. In the case of the UN, that mechanism is the military and economic power of its members. And, both the military and economic power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council far eclipses that of the rest of the UN combined. These five countries largely control the actions of the UN.

          As to courts enforcing UN sanctions and other mandates, THIS is BS. In the case of most western nations, the leadership of that nation must recognize the sanction or mandate and have, or put, in place some mechanism which allows the state to take action against its citizens for violating those mandates. Most nations have NOT surrendered their national sovereignty to the United Nations.

          Two more things. The UN does not make any binding international law. It is merely a clearing house for agreements among the member states. This includes the Security Council. Second, weren’t you the guy who was aruing that there is not such thing as international law, only international “norms”, when the US attacked Syria?

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 3:56 pm

          You are the one with no idea how it works. Security Council resolutions made under Chapter 7 are binding on all UN members under international law. They are enforceable by the domestic courts in each nation. (In the USA treaties are laws, and the UN Treaty binds us to obey binding UNSC resolutions, and thus self-executing UNSC resolutions that impose restrictions or obligations on individuals are directly enforceable by US courts.)

          What we mean when we say “international law”, and whether there can really be such a thing as “binding” international law is another question, and the US has always taken the view that it cannot exist. That is precisely why I emphasized, several times, that the UN sanctions were (and would again be) binding in the view of European courts, regardless of what their governments or legislatures might say or do.

          Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2018 at 11:35 pm

          so, if all Security Council mandates are binding on all member nations, who enforces them? The UN police? And, if a nations courts decide that their nation does not have to honor them, who is going to force them to do so? The military might of the member nations of the UN, right? Now, which nations have the strongest militaryies? That’s right, Chumly, the 5 permanent members of the Security Council; China, Russia, France, the UK and the US. And as you pointed out, Russia and China re most likely to simply ignore the sanctions, as they have in the past. France might honor them, but they are heavily invested in Iran, at the moment. And all three of these countries are not only going to refuse to enforce sanctions, but are all nuclear nations. Oops. This leaves enforcement of the sanctions up to the US. And the US certainly can not use military might against these nations, now can it. So, this leaves the US with the same weapon it is using right now, barring sanction violators from US markets. So, the US is doing exactly what it would have to do if it demanded UN snap-back sanctions be reinstated without the danger of being accused of being too weak to get the nations of the Security Council to back it up.

          Point of clarification here, courts can not enforce any of their orders. You know who does that? Armed men; either armed court officers or LEOs. Courts settle argument and that is all that they can do. It is armed men who enforce their decisions. And, if those armed men choose not to enforce those court decisions, then nothing happens.

          As to YOUR sliding definition of what constitutes international law, you can not have it both ways, simply to justify whatever action you wish to justify. Either international law is clear and binding or it does not exist. It is an either or proposition. The US violated international law, twice, by bombing Syria in 2017 and 2018. It had no justification under existing international laws regarding acts of war. The reason that nothing was done about it is the same reason whyu nothing would be done if the UN sanctions against Iran were ignored by China, Russia, France or Germany; nobody is going to go to war over it. In order for the rule of law to exist, men must have the force available to enforce that law as well as the will to do so.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | May 24, 2018 at 10:54 pm

          Wow, it’s like talking to a wall. And then I remember this is the genius who thought Reagan ran against Goldwater.

          For anyone else still interested,

          1. a law does not have to be enforced to be binding. Binding law means you are obliged to keep it, not that someone will arrest you if you don’t. If you don’t keep it you are a lawbreaker. You may or may not care about that.

          2. Courts enforce laws by issuing orders. They then rely on the executive, which is obliged to enforce those orders.

          3. “Binding international law” means binding within the context of international law. But there are two views on whether “international law” itself is binding. The USA, ever since its inception, has taken the view that there is no such thing as truly binding international law; that the only laws binding on the USA are its own constitution, the statutes its congress has made, and the treaties into which it has entered (and which it may abrogate at will).

          But the prevailing legal view in Europe has long been the opposite, that international law is binding in exactly the same way as domestic law, and that no nation has the right to violate it, regardless of its own interests. The EU courts unanimously take that view, and thus if the UN sanctions on Iran, which were made under Chapter 7 and are therefore binding, were to be brought back the EU courts would enforce them against European companies that violated them. Their respective governments, being law-abiding international citizens, would have no choice but to obey.

I am left wondering what the heck Kerry had to talk about when he met with Iranians over this “deal”. From it’s inception the deal was a poor one, like almost every other “deal” Duh One had made.

Trump isn’t well liked by EU Leaders while Obama was worshiped. We are seeing why. When Obama was the President other leaders saw a weak man who would bow to nearly anything they wanted. Of course they loved him, he was like Santa Claus for other countries, not so much the US, in most cases it was at the cost of US citizens. Now the US has a strong President whom the EU and other world leaders are following, even if it is reluctantly, and at a cost to them rather than the US.

A President who states what he sees, puts out what he believes will be his actions, and then does it has the left spinning. It was the same for GW in the beginning of his term in office, they painted him in all kinds of crap because his campaign promises meant something, and he was doing them. GW would have been a much better President if he hadn’t gone all weak in the knees after the elections that gave power to the Democrats. When the Dhimmicrats took over Congress GW gave them everything they wanted. I somehow doubt that Trump would do that, though if the D’s get the House and Congress you know they will impeach him.

I’m glad we have Trump in office. He is righting the ship of state and showing he means what he says and will do as he promised, even if it is not quite the extent he wanted.

Isn’t it interesting to see who European businesses consider the more serious concern here. They understand that to do business with America means having to do things America’s way. So here they know full well not to fuck about in Iran least they end up on an American trade shit list.

So yeah the EU can make all kinds of pretty noises about protecting European business from American aggression BUT European businesses know who the real boss is here…and it aint the pussy filled fucking EU.

JusticeDelivered | May 22, 2018 at 7:15 pm

All this outflow of capital from Iran, them coming face to face with economic disaster, knowing that the con they ran on Obama is now likely to lead to their economic collapse, is so gratifying.

The sanctions never should have been lifted in the first place, not until Iran’s despots offered substantive concessions and a marked change in attitude. Obama’s farcical, self-congratulatory and vanity-driven “diplomacy” was a one-sided act of total capitulation and perfidy, masquerading as allegedly grand statecraft. And, the media played along as the willing propagandists for this contemptible chicanery, as they always do where Obama is concerned.

Ha, but the fancy talking heads Told us we were helpless, we couldn’t do anything about it, we were going it alone, and Europe’s interest’s (Or at least their desire for immediate profit now, at the small expense of being subjugated later) outweighed hours. What the heck happened?

When Reagan took office and Iran immediately released the hostages, the Left has always maintained that the time of these two events were coincidental and nothing more. Now history is rhyming in the Trump is now in office and Iran is once again being beat back with apparently no recourse. I assume this is just another coincidence.(sarc)

    Milhouse in reply to Cleetus. | May 23, 2018 at 5:28 am

    On the contrary, the left’s position has always been that this was no coincidence at all — that the mullahs delayed the hostages’ release until that day at Reagan’s request, conveyed by Bush on a trip to Paris in October ’80. The fact that Bush could prove he was in the US continuously during the relevant period did not stop them from maintaining this theory; think Michael Cohen’s supposed Prague trip.