By staff and agency

Pompeo says U.S. will not stand in the way of INSTEX

June 1, 2019 - 19:55

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington will not stand in the way of a system Europeans are developing to shield companies dealing with Iran from the U.S. sanctions, so long as it provides only humanitarian and other permitted goods.

“When we think about INSTEX, if it’s aimed at facilitating the movement of goods that are authorized to move, it’s unproblematic,” AP quoted him as saying after a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday.

Pompeo seeks channel of communication with Iran

Pompeo started a Europe tour on Thursday to seek support and a potential diplomatic climb-down to ease rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

According to AP, he was traveling to Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Britain to assure European leaders that the U.S. is not looking for conflict, press them to do what they can to cool the situation, and perhaps open a channel of communication with the Islamic Republic.

After a brief stop in Berlin on Friday to make up for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pompeo will make an unusual and extended stop in Switzerland, the country that has long represented Washington's interests in Tehran and has in the past been an intermediary between the two. His three days in Bern will be the first visit to the Swiss capital by a secretary of state in more than two decades and comes amid public signals from President Donald Trump that he wants to talk with Iran.

Special purpose vehicle 

On January 31, France, Germany and Britain, the three European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, announced the creation of INSTEX, a special purpose vehicle aimed at facilitating legitimate trade between European economic operators and Iran. 

On March 20, Iran’s central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati announced that a mechanism similar to INSTEX has been registered in Iran, officially called the Special Trade and Finance Institute (STFI).

Iran has criticized Europeans for repeated delays in taking actions in line with keeping the JCPOA.

Iranian Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said on Tuesday that Europeans are acting passively to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal, calling their approach to the agreement “neutral”.

“Unfortunately, Europe has not attached value to our country’s cooperative approach. Europe’s ‘neutral performance’ will make it more vulnerable towards threats such as terrorism, human and drug trafficking,” Falahatpisheh said in meeting with a number of Norwegian parliamentarians in Oslo.

During a meeting with a group of Austrian MPs in Tehran on April 29, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi criticized European delay in implementing its special mechanism to save the JCPOA.

Speaking at the 9th round of Iran-Norway political consultations on April 30, Araqchi also said the international community has not responded properly to the U.S. illegal act in withdrawing from the JCPOA.

On May 8, Iran officially announced that its “strategic patience” has come to an end as the remaining parties to the JCPOA have failed to compensate for the U.S. exit from the deal and reimposing sanctions on the country. 

In the first step, Iran announced that it stops selling stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water for 60 days. However, Iran warned if a conclusion is not reached in this time period, it will take other measures step by step and will accelerate its uranium enrichment activities.

Under the JCPOA, Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium is capped at 300kg and heavy water reserve at 130 tons.

“This announcement is for 60 days. We have announced to the other side, the five countries [Germany, France, UK, Russia and China], that if they come to the negotiating table in 60 days and we reach a conclusion and safeguard our main interests which are oil [sale] and banking relations, we will return to the previous situation of May 7, 2019,” President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on May 8.


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