London, 8 Jun - American officials are currently travelling around the world to encourage other countries to stop their trade with Iran, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal last month, according to sources.
The officials from the US State and Treasury Departments, including Andrew Peek, deputy assistant secretary of state with responsibility for Iran and Iraq, have been in Japan and Eastern Europe to urge them to stop doing business with the mullahs in Tehran, as well as asking the European Investment Bank not to invest in firms that do business in Iran.
This was confirmed by the US State Department.
A US State Department official said: “The State Department delegation to Europe seeks to garner support for our global effort to pressure Iran and to explain our sanctions policy. We are making stops to many countries and will expand our diplomatic outreach efforts worldwide in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, our engagement with [Britain, France, and Germany] is on-going, including during this worldwide diplomatic engagement.”
The reasons that the US wants the rest of the world to stop trading with Iran is because this trade funds Iran’s malign activities, including domestic repression and support for terrorism.
Donald Trump’s announcement on May 8 that he would pull out of the 2015 deal means that unilateral sanctions will soon be reimposed on Iran, which will include fines against non-US firms doing business with Iran. The deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on Iran's nuclear programme that never materialised in full.
Saving the deal
This US tour hampering the efforts to save the flawed deal by the other signatories (Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia).
Europe is heavily invested in saving the nuclear deal, as it has lot of trade deals with Iran that it wishes to keep, so ministers from Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the EU foreign policy chief, have written to their American counterparts, begging them for exemptions to the sanctions for EU firms.
If the US refuses, as it likely will do, then Europe’s continued participation in the deal will have no meaningful impact as European firms will likely leave Iran to avoid being shut out of the US market. The US doesn't appear to be backing down from its position.
On Tuesday, US Under Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker said: “We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”
The Europeans are also trying to “ring-fence” their trade with Iran to avoid US sanctions and prevent Iran from pulling out of the deal, but again the US financial system is in place all over the world, forcing companies to choose between Iran and the US.
Of course, given the fact that Iran never really disbanded its nuclear programme and that trade with Iran funds malign activities, it would be best if Europe and the rest of the world powers pulled out of the deal and stopped propping up the mullahs.