Larijani says EU just keeps talking about preserving nuclear deal

February 24, 2020 - 19:27

TEHRAN – Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has criticized Europe for failure to take practical actions to save the 2015 nuclear deal, saying the European Union just keeps talking about preserving the agreement, officially known as the JCPOA.

“The situation around the JCPOA shows that Europe has just kept talking for about one year but Iran’s economic benefits in the nuclear deal have not been safeguarded,” he said during a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Tehran on Sunday.

Larijani also said that the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is ineffective and useless.

Schallenberg, for his part, said that any effort must be made to keep the nuclear deal alive.

INSTEX has been designed by the European Union to facilitate legitimate trade with Tehran. It was introduced on January 31, 2019, by France, Germany, and Britain, the three countries party to the nuclear deal.

INSTEX is supposed to be a financial channel and a special mechanism for transferring money in spite of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Its objective is to facilitate Iran's transactions with European companies.

In late November 2019, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden issued a joint statement announcing becoming shareholders of INSTEX.

“In light of the continuous European support for the agreement and the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures. INSTEX was established by France, Germany and the United Kingdom in January 2019,” read the statement, published by the Foreign Ministry of Finland.

Iran has likened INSTEX to a beautiful car which has no gasoline.

In an article published by The New York Times on February 10, it is said that INSTEX is a prime example of the futility of Europe’s struggle for strategic autonomy from the United States

Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018, European countries have struggled to come up with an appropriate response, says the article.

The European Union, including Germany, has pledged to uphold its commitment to trading with Iran, it added.

“But Europe has had a hard time living up to this promise,” the paper said.

It also said, “The enormous impact of America’s secondary sanctions comes not just from the market power of the United States, but also from the power of the dollar and America’s capacity to legally or factually control financial transaction systems.”

“One key, then, to Europe obtaining ‘strategic autonomy’ in international relations, is obtaining a capacity for independent financial transactions. Which brings us back to INSTEX,” it added.

“INSTEX — stay with me here! — is part of a barter system that is intended to avoid payments being exchanged directly between European and Iranian companies when they do business with one another, in order to avoid setting off American sanctions. Under this barter system, money doesn’t have to ‘cross’ the invisible line between Europe and Iran: INSTEX and its Iranian counterpart record the value of shipments from Europe to Iran, and vice versa, and organize the exchange of the appropriate amount of funds among exporters and importers on the same side of the line.”

“Sound complicated? It is. And while it works on paper, it’s proved extremely hard to realize in the real world. Policymakers in Berlin admit freely today under the condition of anonymity that they had underestimated the technical difficulties,” the article said.

On May 8, 2019, exactly one year after President Trump abrogated the JCPOA, Iran said its “strategic patience” is over and started to gradually reduce its commitment to the JCPOA at bi-monthly interval. Finally, on January 5 Iran took the last and final step in reducing its commitments to the JCPOA.

However, Iran has insisted that it will reverse its decisions if the EU abides by its obligations under the multilateral pact.


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