Europe facing 'huge pressure' from US over Iran trade channel: French min.

TERHAN, May 22 (MNA) – The European sides to the nuclear deal are facing huge pressure from the US to drop their proposed trade channel with Iran, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

“Yes, there is American pressure. It’s strong, very strong and very direct on this subject,” Reuters quoted Le Maire as telling reporters in Paris. “There is pressure on political officials, the administration and all those who are implicated on this subject.”

The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), EU's special payment channel with Iran, was announced by the EU in January to secure trade with Iran and skirt US anti-Iran sanctions after Washington pulled out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) in May 2018.

Iran in turn has set up a matching channel called Special Trade and Finance Instrument (STFI). The Islamic Republic had given about a year to Europeans to implement the mechanism, and now expects them to implement the arrangement. The mechanism, which will deal essentially with food and medical trade, is struggling to become operational.

Speaking to Mehr correspondent on Tuesday, Chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, said it is unlikely that the European sides would implement the trade channel.

Le Maire added that Iran’s decision to reduce commitments to the JCPOA “doesn’t facilitate the possibility of trade,” either.

Iran has given the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal a 60-day ultimatum to comply with their commitments, particularly those regarding Iran’s economic interests in the banking and energy sectors before the country would start reducing portions of its own commitments to the agreement stage by stage.

“I do not think that Europe will give into an ultimatum,” Le Maire said.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran is prepared to support the nuclear deal exactly in the same way that France and its European allies have supported and implemented the agreement during the past year.

"We think such behavior should be completely convincing for the French who claim to support the nuclear agreement," added Mousavi, in response to his French counterpart’s statement that urged Iran to continue to implement all of its obligations under the JCPOA.

MS

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