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European sanctions-busting payment channel for Iran registers ZERO transactions – Iranian ambassador

RT | March 3, 2020

Over a year since its launch, the EU’s INSTEX financial mechanism – designed to facilitate trade with sanctions-hit Iran – has not carried out any operations, Iran’s ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali has revealed.

“The Europeans have developed the INSTEX mechanism, but to date, as I’m talking to you, no transactions have been made,” Jalali said during a meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian senate.

The special purpose vehicle INSTEX was established by France, Germany and the United Kingdom in January 2019 in an attempt to rescue the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The move came after the US, which used to be one of the parties of the landmark deal, unilaterally abandoned the accord and restored tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic. After the trade channel became operational, six more EU states – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – decided to join it.

While the mechanism is still far from being implemented, having such a financial instrument could be more vital than ever for Iran, as it has been hit hardest among Middle Eastern countries by the coronavirus outbreak. The pneumonia-causing disease that originated from China has already killed 66 people in the country and infected more than 1,500.

Although the European initiatives to save the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), look good on paper, Iran has repeatedly slammed the partners for their lack of action. Since the US’ withdrawal from the deal, Tehran has been gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments. One of the latest steps was made in January, when it announced that it would determine the enrichment level and the amount of enriched material it produced only in accordance with its own needs.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Hopes Fade for EU to Rescue Iran Via Banking Scheme to Bypass Sanctions – but Was It Ever a Serious Plan?

By Martin JAY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 08.02.2019

At the end of September, the European Union unveiled plans to help Iran bypass sanctions imposed by the US, so that it could sell oil and even trade with EU countries. The move followed Trump finally losing his patience over the so-called Iran Deal – a treaty drafted by Barak Obama which effectively prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons in return for opening up Iran’s economy to the West and unblocking funds held outside of the country – which he dismisses as a bad deal for American interests in the region.

In reality, Trump’s real problem with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), is the same one which vexed America’s two strongest allies in the Middle East, which is that it did nothing to curtail Iran’s real strength against any external threat: its ballistic missiles program.

And so, to appease these two partners, who felt betrayed by Obama, sanctions were imposed against Iran – along with secondary sanctions, imposed via other countries (although this has not been as successful as Trump would have hoped) – and a new ‘war’ against Iran began, aimed at largely toppling its moderate government, while Saudi Arabia gains time to move ahead with its own ballistic missile program.

A key part of spurring a downfall of the present regime in Tehran, was both secondary sanctions wielded against Turkey, China and India, threatening them against buying Iran’s cheap oil, along with forcing the EU to stop trading altogether with Tehran. At one point, Trump’s plan looked like it was working with Europe as all the main investors inside Iran packed their bags and promptly left Iran within weeks of his sanctions plan being announced.

But there was great optimism about Iran finding a clever go-around and still sell its oil to EU governments as well as foster trade with European companies who were not afraid of the threats from the US via its banking system to shut companies off from the US market.

The European Union’s own foreign policy damsel, Federica Mogherini, who stole a lot of the credit for the Iran Deal being signed in the first place (when in reality the Iranians humored her with this idea all along) had a plan. She soon announced that a new banking system to be called INSTEX would be created specifically to allow EU governments and companies to trade with Iran. Although on paper it seemed pretty simple, there were warnings from experts that it might be a difficult task to pull off, given the complexities of international banking, not to mention international laws; moreover, the EU has no real track record of pulling off anything so bold as this before as the so-called ‘foreign policy’ initiatives it has are largely grand ideas on paper – fantasies of what it might be one day rather than the present day European External Action Service which employs over a 100 ‘ambassadors’ who largely live in Djin palaces and keep the dream alive around the world in exotic locations whose governments are happy to give Brussels the cash-for-hegemony deal anytime.

Sadly, it seems that Mogherini’s plan for the banking scheme which was to send a clear signal to Trump as well as keep the Iran Deal alive, is folly and delusional – given that, for Mogherini and her colleagues, the Iran Deal is seen as their great success to exercise EU foreign policy into concrete terms and to create the first ever international treaty drafted by Brussels. It is more or less sacrosanct and considered to be a treaty which now can be used to exert EU hegemony against Trump’s new world order which they consider geopolitical heresy.

Yet the Iran Deal has so much fake news and false prophesies – like Trump’s claims that the Iranians got 150 billion dollars from it, when in reality they only got just over 30 and it was their money in the first place – and the EU’s idea seems just that. Just more fake news.

For the first time, there are growing doubts about both whether it can be pulled off and whether it was a genuine offer in the first place as Brussels appears to be at odds with the giants of the EU, who are cranking up the sanctions to new levels.

Just recently, France’s foreign minister warned Tehran of new sanctions if Tehran would not agree to curbs its ballistic missiles program, regardless of the fact that ballistics were never part of the Iran Deal. France, a founding member of the European Union itself and a country with real clout in Brussels seems to be at odds with the EU’s plans, to say the least. Or was the Brussels plan the real deal in the first place?

Concurrent to this, are also the first real signals from Tehran that it doubts the EU’s sincerity in the draft banking plan. Politicians there, feeling the heat from sanctions and living with daily rumours of a possibility of a military coup engineered by the charismatic, anti-US military figure Qasem Soleimani, are starting to cry foul.

In reality, we shouldn’t get too excited about the scheme, as Tehran clearly isn’t holding out too much hope. In addition to there being many doubts about whether European firms will sign up to it, even if it gets off the ground it will only appeal to smaller companies that are flying under the US radar anyway. Additionally, earlier hopes that it could be used to sell Iran’s oil to Europe, have been dashed.

The EU is living in dangerous times. With its own elections this May expected to give record wins to nationalist, populist parties – in particular in France – it is facing its worst ever credibility crisis, which explains the fear mongering led by President Macron with his latest Brexit speech. But if Brussels can’t deliver on Iran’s rescue package, then it won’t matter if far right parties dominate the European parliament, signaling the demise once and for all, of the EU as we know it. Brussels will never be taken seriously again around the world where it practices its fake hegemony as no one will forget the farce of the EU and the Iran Deal. INSTEX may well be the sword that the EU falls on, certainly on the world’s stage, when the hype dies down and it is dispatched to the press room floor as folly for a wannabee superpower.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran not accepting EU’s humiliating conditions on INSTEX: Judiciary chief

Press TV – February 4, 2019

Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani says the Islamic Republic will never give in to humiliating conditions set by Europe for the enforcement of its new non-dollar mechanism aimed at facilitating trade with the Islamic Republic.

Addressing a meeting of high-ranking judicial officials on Monday, Iran’s top judge said, “After nine months of dawdling and negotiations, European countries have come up with a limited-capacity mechanism not for exchange of money with Iran, but to supply food and medicine.”

The European signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), issued a joint statement on Thursday, announcing the launch of a long-awaited direct non-dollar payment mechanism meant to safeguard their trade ties with Tehran following Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and in the face of the “toughest ever” sanctions imposed by the United States against the Islamic Republic.

Following months-long preparations, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain finally unveiled the mechanism, officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), after a summit in Bucharest, Romania.

Iran’s Judiciary chief further said, “European countries, which had promised to remain committed to Iran’s nuclear deal after the US withdrawal from it, have now restricted their efforts to INSTEX and have reportedly set two strange conditions for it to become effective.”

They have asked “Iran to join the FATF (the Financial Action Task Force) and start negotiations over its missile program,” before INSTEX enters into force, he added.

“These [European] countries must know that the Islamic Republic of Iran will by no means accept these humiliating conditions and will not give in to any demand in return for a small opening [in sanctions] like INSTEX,” Amoli Larijani emphasized.

He noted that today, European countries are moving in the same direction that the US had moved before “and we [the Iranian nation] must continue to stand fast as [we have] always [done].”

President Donald Trump withdrew the US in May from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, reached between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015, and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Under the deal, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Trump’s administration announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran’s banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country’s oil sales and crucial exports.

Iran’s nuclear chief said on Saturday that the establishment of the new mechanism to ease trade with Iran is a promising step, but noted the Europeans must act more swiftly and adopt final measures in this regard.

“The Europeans took a promising step in terms of economy and we hope that they will keep racing ahead on the same path,” the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, told reporters.

Despite Washington’s withdrawal, Iran has not left the deal yet, but stressed that the remaining signatories to the agreement have to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they want Tehran to remain in it.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, appreciated the efforts made by European countries to uphold the JCPOA after the US withdrawal from the agreement.

“It (INSTEX) fully demonstrated the EU’s determination to uphold multilateralism. China firmly supports the continued cooperation between the EU and Iran to put the mechanism into operation as soon as possible and open it to third parties so as to promote normal economic and trade cooperation between the international community and Iran,” he said.

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment