By Javad Heirannia

There is no relation between delays in SPV with Iran’ missile program: Nephew

February 1, 2019

TEHRAN – Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that I think the main cause of the delay in SPV (special purpose vehicle) has been to create a structure that avoids to the extent possible the risk of U.S. sanctions while at the same time providing Iran with something meaningful.  

The fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says that if SPV is linked only to humanitarian trade, then, I think it will be efficient and effective.  

He also says that there is no relation between delays in launching of the SPV with Iran’ missile program.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: The “special purpose vehicle” or SPV was supposed to be registered on Monday but once again it has been postponed to a later time. What are the main causes of this delay?

A: I think the main cause of the delay has been to create a structure that avoids to the extent possible the risk of U.S. sanctions while at the same time providing Iran with something meaningful.  I think an important second cause has been the normal discussions that always occur about who will be in charge, who will fund it, etc.

Q: Some believe that SPV won’t be launched as long as Iran pursues its missile program. What is your opinion on this matter?

A: I do not think that's true.  I think that the missile issue is being handled separately by the EU and its constituent members, just as they have said they'd like to handle the nuclear issue separately from the missile issue.  I think that, ironically, only Iran and the United States see these issues as directly linked.

Q: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said SPV would be limited to humanitarian trade. What are the reasons behind this limitation?

A: Ultimately, it is because while the Europeans oppose the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran, European companies and banks remain unwilling to do business with Iran that might contravene sanctions.

Humanitarian trade does not have this same set of problems and, so, it is far easier to begin with humanitarian trade than to try -- and probably fail -- to entertain a wider, deeper set of economic connections.

Q: The ex-member of the U.S. nuclear-negotiating team Robert Malley recently told Euronews that EU is not fully united behind the SPV because some countries in the European Union are more sensitive to the US argument or pressure. With regard to this matter, do you think that SPV will be efficient enough once launched?

A: If it is linked only to humanitarian trade, then, yes, I think it will be efficient and effective.  Breaking down the barriers to humanitarian trade would be beneficial in its own right and there is a glaring need of financial services in this area.  Companies are less reluctant to do this business than banks are to do any business with Iran under U.S. sanctions.

The real question is whether this is enough of a benefit for Iran to convince it to remain in the JCPOA.  I hope so but I fear not.

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