Russia Helping Iran Circumvent Illegal US Sanctions

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by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Unilaterally imposed US sanctions against other nations have no legal validity. They’re used against governments unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.

Washington uses them as weapons of war by other means against nations on its target list for regime change.

In 1996, the Vienna-based International Progress Organization called sanctions “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

When unilaterally imposed, they violate Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorizing the Security Council alone to intervene against member states to restore peace, stability and security.

Its members alone may impose sanctions on member states, their entities or individuals — not heads of state, legislatures or courts of any nation.

Along with wars of aggression, color revolutions, and old-fashioned coups, use of sanctions is a favorite US tactic against targeted nations — notably used against Cuba (since 1962), Iran (since 1979), Syria (since 1979), the Russian Federation (since 2014), North Korea, and China, among other countries.

They’re imposed by the US based on Big Lies and deception, the Trump regime using them more aggressively against Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran than its predecessors — aiming to crush their economies and immiserate their people into submission.

What hasn’t worked before is highly unlikely to be achieved ahead. Failure hasn’t deterred the Trump regime from continuing to use weaponized sanctions as a hammer against the rule of law, peace, equity and justice.

Throughout its history, the Islamic Republic has found ways to circumvent illegal US sanctions, including by working cooperatively with private entities and friendly nations like Russia, China, and Turkey.

Last year it was reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck an agreement with Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan aimed at circumventing US sanctions, perhaps with China as well at the time.

Last fall, Rouhani said “(w)e will continue by all means to both produce and export” oil. It’s “in the frontline of confrontation and resistance,” adding:

“It is not strange that countries that are sanctioned find ways to dodge the sanctions.”

“The Americans should know that a country which is sanctioned would still be able to find solutions to move forward.” 

“They cannot do this because various mechanisms have been discovered to maintain Iran’s oil exports.”

Iran has been circumventing US sanctions for decades. Responding to Trump’s sanctions war, a statement in May said its oil sales will continue regardless of US tactics to block them.

On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “Iran should have the opportunity to carry out oil exports at least approximately on a scale comparable to the period until May of last year” — when Trump pulled out of the JCPOA nuclear deal, breaching a Security Council adopted international agreement, making it binding international law.

If Brussels fails to launch its so-called Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) to maintain normal economic, financial, and trade relations with Iran, Russia will help Tehran maintain its exports and circumvent US-imposed restrictions on its financial transactions — bypassing the dollar.

European officials pledged to maintain normal economic, financial, and trade relations with Iran but failed to back promises with positive actions. Russia and China consider the Islamic Republic to be a strategic partner. 

According to TankerTrackers.com, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Beijing last month for talks on “regional and international issues,” the Chinese oil tanker Pacific Bravo headed “eastward, having loaded approximately 2 million barrels of Iranian oil from the Soroosh and Kharg terminals in the Persian Gulf over the past few days,” adding:

The tanker “report(ed) its destination as Indonesia, but (it) was recently acquired by Bank of Kunlun, a financial institution that is owned by the Chinese state oil company CNPC.” 

“TankerTrackers.com believes China is the ultimate destination for the oil on board.” 

The Chinese-owned tanker was the first to load Iranian crude after the Trump regime ended waivers on the purchase of Iranian oil to designated countries.

Weeks earlier, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said his government “resolutely opposes” unilateral sanctions on Iran.

China and other countries continue normal relations with Tehran. Russian efforts to further help its ruling authorities sell crude and related products, along with conducting financial transactions by circumventing the dollar, are important ways to counter illegal US sanctions.

Imposing them failed to achieve US objectives for decades. What hasn’t worked before is unlikely to be successful ahead.

The Trump regime failed to halt construction of Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of low-cost natural gas to European markets when completed in late 2019 or early 2020 — at the expense of much more costly and less accessible US liquified natural gas (LNG).

Its aim to bring Iranian oil exports to zero and halt its international financial transactions failed so far and is unlikely to work ahead.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

 

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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أهمّ دروس تحرير خان شيخون

 

أغسطس 24, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– أما وقد حسم الأمر فقد صار وقت التقييم واستخلاص العبر، فلا ينكرنّ أحد أن الرهانات على تعثّر الدولة السورية توزعت على مشارق الأرض ومغاربها، وأنه حيث لا رهانات كانت هناك تساؤلات وانتظارات. فالكل يُجمع على أن إدلب ليست كسواها، وان تجمع عشرات آلاف المسلحين الذين رفضوا التسويات في مناطقهم التي تحرّرت، يجعل الحرب لتحريرها شديدة الضراوة والقسوة محفوفة بالمخاطر والتضحيات والتساؤلات، وأن وجود آلاف الإرهابيين المقطوعي الجذور اليائسين من أي أفق بعد إدلب يمنح كل هذا المشهد القاتم مزيداً من السواد، وأن الحلف المناوئ للدولة السورية مهما ابتعد أو اقترب عن التشكيلات الإرهابية التي تقاتل في إدلب قد اجتاز الخط الأحمر للتعاون معها سابقاً وما عادت لديه مشكلة بإمدادها بكل أسباب الصمود، وأن تركيا التي لانت وتموضعت بعد معارك حلب إنما فعلت ذلك ليس فقط لأنها حسمت أمرها بالعجز عن المضي في المواجهة الكاملة، بل لأنها أرادت الحفاظ على دورها وحضورها في إدلب، وعندما يصبح مصير إدلب في الميزان يجب التريث في إصدار الأحكام حول كيفية تصرف أنقرة، ولا أيضاً في كيفية تصرف موسكو الحريصة على علاقة مميّزة مع أنقرة تبدّلت بين التصادم والتفاهم، واستقرت على سياق إيجابي رغم الخلاف لزمن غير قصير، لذلك كان الانتظار سيد الموقف.

– في كل معارك المنطقة حيث التكامل بين الجبهات واضح، وحيث التداخل بين تأثيرها على بعضها وموازينها أشد وضوحاً، كانت المواجهات ساخنة في الخليج مياهاً ويابسة، وفي اليمن، وفلسطين، ودخل على الخط تسخين العراق من دون مقدّمات، وتمّ بصورة مفاجئة تسخين لبنان، لكن المكان الوحيد الذي بدا أنه سيقول الكلمة الفصل هو خان شيخون، حيث مفتاح الجغرافيا في مصير إدلب،، حيث يمكن تحقيق تغيير في خطوط الجغرافيا من دون سائر جبهات المنطقة. وأما وقد وقع الأمر وانتهى، فمعادل التأثر والتأثير والأوعية المتصلة سيحضر بقوة. وهذا هو التفسير لحركة الرئيس الفرنسي للمسارعة للقاء الرئيس الروسي ومن بعده وزير الخارجية الإيرانية، وزيارة الرئيس التركي القريبة المرتقبة إلى روسيا، والتراجعات الأميركية عن تهديدات الويل والثبور وعظائم الأمور بحقّ لبنان، والجواب بكلمتين، إنه خان شيخون.

– السياق الجديد بات واضحاً بعد الذي جرى وحسم التساؤلات حول الإمكان، ودليل الإمكان هو الوقوع. وما وقع في خان شيخون قابل للتكرار، ولا حاجة لتجارب أخرى للإثبات، فإن عُرض على الطاولة ما يفي بالغرض من التسليم بمكانة روسيا إلى التعامل مع إيران وملفها النووي والعقوبات والملاحة النفطية، إلى الحل السياسي في سورية ومشاريع الحل وإعادة الإعمار، إلى اليمن، إلى العراق، إلى لبنان، إلى فلسطين، ولا أوهام لدى أحد بحلول جذرية بل اعتراف بحقائق القوة التي يتم على أساسها التفاوض، وإلا فالكلمة للميدان كما قالت خان شيخون.

– سيكون صعباً على البعض الاعتراف لكنها الحقيقة المرة عليهم، إنه الجيش السوري الذي لا يُقهر، ومحور المقاومة الذي لا يهزم، وروسيا التي لا تبيع ولا تشتري في المبادئ.

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WHAT MAKES IRAN STRONG ENOUGH TO STAND AGAINST A SUPERPOWER LIKE THE USA?

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s the Islamic Republic of Iran deployed the slogan “Karbala, Karbala we are coming” ( كربلا كربلا ما دارييم مياييم) to “defend the value of Islam”. In Syria the battle cry “Zeinab shall not be abducted twice” helped mobilise Shia allies and rally  thousands of men to fight the Sunni Takfiri of al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (ISIS).

Today, despite the existential battle between Iran and the US, the “Islamic Republic” no longer uses religious slogans, but is instead rallying support on a national basis. Even Iranians who disagree with the present regime are supporting their country in the face of the aggressive posture of the US. Iranian pragmatists were disappointed by the US’s unlawful revocation of the JCPOA nuclear deal. Severe sanctions are being imposed on the Iranian people because Trump ditched the deal to please Netanyahu and to spite his predecessor Obama. In the face of these sanctions, the Islamic Republic refuses to bow to US dictates. Unlike other Middle Eastern countries who willingly submit to Trump’s blackmail and bullying, Iran says “NO” to the superpower. Why? How can Iran do what Saudi Arabia and other regional powers could do but will not?

Iran manufactures its own tanksmissiles,submarines and is a member of the global club of nuclear science capable countries.

Iran has strong allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Yemen and can rely on them to take part in any war imposed on Tehran, even one imposed by the US.

Iran has democratically elected members of the parliament and a President who serves a four-year mandate and has the right for a single term renewal if he wins via the ballot, unlike Arab states who have presidents for life or inherited monarchies. Christians and Jews are recognised minorities in Iran; the Jews have a member of the Parliament, Siamak Moreh, and feel “safe and respected”. They number around 15,000 out of 85 million Iranians and have more than 25 synagogues.

Iran has faced US sanctions for over 40 years without bowing to US demands. It has confronted the US in many arenas around the Middle East and recently shot down a drone to send the clear message that it is ready to face war and its consequences, if war is imposed on it. Iran is ready to pay the price of defending its air, water and lands; it will not compromise on any violations of its sovereignty even by a superpower like the US. Iran is sending a message to the US, its main ally Israel, and to all Middle Eastern countries: it will retaliate harshly against any aggression.

Iran is not afraid of regime-change attempts because its electoral system is in the hands of the people, and, if hit internally, Iran has the capacity to hit back anywhere its allies are deployed, against its regional enemies wherever they are deployed.

Iran’s situation should not be unique or surprising. It is natural to have democratic institutions. It is normal for a country to have allies ready to stand by and lend support when needed. It is ordinary for any country to use force, when needed, to defend its sovereignty and protect its borders. Citizens support their government and armed forces when they defend the country against aggression and when their rulers take tough and courageous decisions.

There are no voices in Iran calling for the fall of the current regime despite the US “maximum pressure”. The Iranian President responded with “maximum patience” for 14 months before taking the first legal step to partially withdraw from the nuclear deal. Rouhani then moved towards a “confrontational strategy” and has ended up adopting a “strategy of equal response” against any attack. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has no need of religious slogans this time because Iranians are united, regardless of ethnicity, behind their leaders and against the US. Trump has managed to unite the pragmatists and the radicals under one flag, against him.

Europe rushed to play a mediation role in a failed attempt to ease tensions between the US and Iran. European leaders have little leverage against President Trump because they are far from united, even if they are signatories of the JCPOA nuclear deal and are therefore bound to respect it. Iran imposed on Europe the devising of a new payment system, INSTEX, notwithstanding its lack of effectiveness. INSTEX shows the will of European leaders to accommodate Iran in order to stop its production of nuclear bombs. That is a substantial European effort.

Iran will not give up on its allies neither would they because they are at the forefront of its national security and the defenders of its values and existence. Without them a confrontational policy towards US hegemony would not be possible. The harsh sanctions on Iran have hurt its allies but have not deteriorated or even affected their military capabilities.

Iran will not give up on its missile capabilities because they are its only defensive mechanism and potential. Iran is ready to go to war; it will not abandon its missile production and development. It has delivered many of these missile capabilities to allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran will not submit to the blackmail by which Trump extorts hundreds of billions of dollars from Middle Eastern countries by forcing them to buy US weapons and spare parts. Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar, pay handsome ransoms to limit the damage of Trump’s bullying.

If all these Middle Eastern countries were to stand up against the “neighbourhood bully” as Iran has done, and invest a fraction of what they are paying Trump in the region’s development and prosperity, the US would be incapable of racketeering Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates.

And last but not least, Iran rejects the plan Trump is attempting to impose on the Palestinians: a demand that they sell their territories for a handful of dollars. Many Middle Eastern countries have adopted the childish plan of an amateur – Jared Kushner, who holds power only because he is the US President’s son-in-law – who believed he could achieve what many experienced presidents and diplomats failed to do over decades. Iran, together with Iraq, Lebanon and Kuwait, has rejected the “Deal of the Century”.

Trump admits that he understands only “the language of figures and money”. Iran’s response to the US blackmail strategy embodies the perception that this world only respects and understands those who manifest strength and refuse to submit to coercion, and its conscience is only awakened by those who have the will to resist.

Proofread by: C.G.B 

IN MAJOR THREAT TO DOLLAR’S RESERVE STATUS, RUSSIA OFFERS TO JOIN EUROPEAN SWIFT-BYPASS

Three weeks after a meeting between the countries who singed the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was ditched by US, French, British and German officials said the trade mechanism which was proposed last summer – designed to circumvent both SWIFT as well as US sanctions banning trade with Iran – called Instex, is now operational.

And while we await for the White House to threaten Europe with even greater tariffs unless it ends this special purpose vehicle – it already did once back in May when it warned that anyone associated with the SPV could be barred from the U.S. financial system if it goes into effect – a response from the US is now assured, because in the biggest attack on the dollar as a reserve currency to date, on Thursday, Russia signaled its willingness to join the controversial payments channel, and has called on Brussels to expand the new mechanism to cover oil exports, the FT reported.

Moscow’s involvement in the Instex channel would mark a significant step forward in attempts by the EU and Russia to rescue a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that has been unravelling since the Trump administration abandoned it last year.

“Russia is interested in close co-ordination with the European Union on Instex,” the Russian foreign ministry told the Financial Times. “The more countries and continents involved, the more effective will the mechanism be as a whole.”

… and the more isolated the US will be as a currency union meant to evade SWIFT and bypass the dollar’s reserve currency status will soon include virtually all relevant and important countries. Only China would be left outstanding; after the rest of the world’s would promptly join.

On Thursday, the Kremlin confirmed the foreign ministry’s take:

“We are tracking the information regarding this. If I’m not mistaken, there have already been statements from our side that, taking into account the first experience of using this system, when it is activated, we cannot rule out interaction in this regard,” Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters.

“This is an important project. It is aimed at protecting the interests of European economic operators against the background of illegal attempts to restrict their activities by third countries,” he added.

Earlier, the Russian foreign ministry hinted at precisely what will take place next, when it said that “The full potential of Instex will only be able to be deployed if it will be open to the participation of countries which are not members of the European Union.” Such as Russia and China.

Ironically, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has previously described Instex as “not sufficient” even though Russia was far more promise, and said Instex was “a good tool in the implementation of projects . . . that the United States has strongly torpedoed” but called for it to be expanded to include crude oil.

“If the encouraging statements by the EU . . . will be backed up by concrete steps and practical advances, including in relation to the use of Instex for servicing trading in Iranian oil, it will help stabilise the difficult situation created around the JCPOA,” it said.

Russia has strengthened its ties with Iran in recent years as part of Moscow’s increased geopolitical importance in the Middle East, including its role of propping up the Assad regime in the war in Syria.

At a meeting with Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed to continue developing trade ties with Tehran and said Moscow was committed to a project to expand the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran. As the FT correctly notes, efforts to rescue the nuclear deal have been a rare area of co-operation between Brussels and Moscow, whose relations have soured in recent years.

* * *

Since US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal last May, its other signatories — Germany, France, UK, China and Russia — have scrambled to find ways to maintain trade with Iran. But they have been stymied by companies’ reluctance to risk Washington’s wrath.

As a reminder, Instex was launched in January but subsequently delayed by bureaucratic hurdles and the complications caused by the US sanctions. It only became operational last month and has been criticised by both Tehran – for having big limitations – and the US – for existing.

Iran has a more valid point: just 10 EU states are members and the mechanism’s initial credit line of several million euros is a fraction of EU-Iran trade, which stood at more than €20bn annually before the US sanctions.

Meanwhile, it appears that Moscow will get an invite because as the FT adds, Brussels is interested in bringing Russia into Instex, but it would first seek to get the channel up and running with humanitarian aid trades before potentially expanding its scope or membership.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy head, said this week that the trade mechanism “has always been conceived to be open to third countries . . . and we are already seeing interest by some of them to participate in that”, although she did not identify them. “The issue of whether or not Instex will deal with oil is a discussion that is ongoing among the shareholders,” she added.

And while Iran wants Europe to buy its oil so that it can use the hard currency earnings to import basic commodities and medicines through Instex, Russia is seeking to find ever more creative ways to chip away at US global dominance, with a focus on the dollar’s reserve currency status.

Additionally,  Moscow previously said that it would look into ways to facilitate or finance Iranian oil exports if Instex was not launched or proved to be ineffective.

As we discussed extensively last summer, the idea behind Instex was to set up a mirror image transaction system that replaces potentially sanctionable international payments between Europe and Iran with payments that do not cross Iran’s borders, nor are they denominated in dollars to avoid giving the US veto rights.

As a final point, the FT quotes analyst who said that China, which has repeatedly defied US sanctions on Iran, has greater potential to hand Tehran an economic lifeline by continuing to purchase Iranian crude exports; it has yet to be seen if China will also join Instex.

Source

US anti-Iran bullying failed on all fronts: Rouhani

Source

Sun Jul 14, 2019 05:44PM

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) addresses a gathering of local officials in North Khorasan Province. (Photo by president.ir)Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) addresses a gathering of local officials in North Khorasan Province. (Photo by president.ir)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says all attempts by the United States to “bully” Iran have fallen flat as a result of an expanding global front against Washington’s mischief.

Rouhani said Sunday that Tehran has managed to defeat the administration of US President Donald Trump on various fronts with its patience and measured policies.

“The US made attempts and was defeated in the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the Warsaw Conference,” he told local officials in North Khorasan Province. “This is a victory for the Iranian nation and we were able to show our power in major challenges.”

The president further said Washington failed to persuade the world community to follow in its footsteps and was left alone because no country in the world bought into its anti-Iran policies save for a few “tiny regimes.”

“Only a fake regime and one or two tiny countries supported the US while the whole world resisted America and its bullying and praised our strategic patience against it, which was a difficult task to accomplish,” he added.

Rouhani then referred to Trump’s decision in May 2018 to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Upon announcing his departure from the landmark agreement, Trump said he would launch a pressure campaign against Iran that will make use of sanctions and other hostile measures to force Iran into renegotiating a new deal that would address its ballistic missile program and curb its regional influence.

Since then, the US has imposed sanctions against Iranian oil exports while also sending troops and military equipment to the Persian Gulf region to confront what it refers to as “threats” coming from Iran.

Rouhani said Washington has tried in vain to rally the world behind it in forcing Iran to leave the JCPOA through sanctions and “economic warfare.”

“As a seasoned nation and a [seasoned] government, we are dealing with an inexperienced administration in the US,” he said.

Russia, China did well on JCPOA unlike Europeans

Rouhani added that Russia and China did well to meet their commitments as signatories of the JCPOA but the European parties to the deal — the UK, France and Germany — either “refused or couldn’t” follow suit.

The three European countries (E3) have repeatedly expressed support for the deal but have done little to meet Iran’s expectations.

Having grown impatient with the E3, Iran has been cutting back on its commitments under the deal by increasing enriched uranium stocks and enrichment purity beyond the limits set by the JCPOA.

Tehran has made it clear that it won’t reverse the decisions unless the E3 deliver on their pledge to protect bilateral trade from US sanctions through the special payment channel known as the INSTEX.

‘Iran always ready for talks’

Rouhani noted that Iran was always prepared for direct talks with other countries, including the US, long as they treated it with respect and didn’t resort to bullying.

“We are always ready for negotiations, even at this very hour and very second, if you drop bullying and sanctions and come back to your senses and the way of logic,” he added.

Trump and several of his hawks, including State Secretary Mike Pompeo, have expressed readiness for talks without any preconditions.

Iran, however, has made it clear that it won’t come to the table under pressure.

Zarif Describes US-Called Meeting of IAEA Ironical

Zarif Describes US-Called Meeting of IAEA Ironical

Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:48

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was paradoxical that the IAEA Board of Governors is holding a meeting on Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal upon a request by the US while Washington has repetitively voiced contempt against it and breached the deal.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Zarif reminded that the US government was the first country which violated the nuclear deal of 2015 between Iran and the Sextet, five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), adding that it was ironical that the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was holding a meeting on Iran’s compliance with the deal at the request of the US.

Referring to the remarks made by US President Donald Trump who has described time and again the JCPOA as the worst deal ever signed by the US, the Iranian diplomatic chief underlined that the “US abhors [the] JCPOA”.

He then stated that the White House not only discarded the agreement and acted in violation of its terms, but also levied sanctions on every entity trying to honor it.

According to Zarif, the White House is unfit to object any matter in regard with the JCPOA, as the US has withdrawn from the agreement and is no longer a party to it.

Zarif stressed that 15 reports by the IAEA verified and attested Tehran’s full compliance with the agreement.

He articulated that his country’s new measures were in line with the terms under the paragraph 36 of the nuclear accord.

Earlier on the day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani derided the US move to call for an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors of the IAEA as an unprecedented event in the world, mocking at the US alleged concerns about Iran’s performance under the nuclear deal.

“On one side, Americans described the JCPOA as the worst possible deal and withdrew from it without any excuse and on the other side, when Iran reduces its commitments to the deal, they all express concern; while all should concern about the US that has violated the whole deal,” said Rouhani in a Wednesday cabinet session.

“They have called for an emergency meeting of Board of Governors [of the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA)], asking why Iran has abandoned some of its JCPOA commitments. This is a funny story that US is following and such measures are rare in the world’s political history,” he added.

Upon the US request, the IAEA Board of Governors will hold a meeting today to discuss the latest status of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran says US request for a BoG session is a ‘sad irony’ as it was the United States who ruined the deal in the first place.

Americans say that Iran’s uranium enrichment is a bad measure but they don’t elaborate that why they do it themselves as the sole country in the world which has used nukes, Rouhani said.

“Does enrichment which leads to the construction of fuel for a power reactor, satisfies people’s needs for water desalination or electricity, leads to the production of radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of illnesses, and has thousands of other peaceful applications bad for Iran and good for others?” he framed.

Iran has announced cuts to its JCPOA commitments after other signatories to the deal failed to comply with their obligations. Iran is asking other signatories to shield its economy from US unilateral sanctions which were imposed after Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018.

Tehran says all its current measures to reduce its JCPOA commitments are according to paragraphs 26 and 36 of the deal.

Washington withdrew from the internationally-endorsed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran on May 2018, reimposed the toughest-ever sanctions against the country and started a plan to zero down Tehran’s oil sales.

Under the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, Tehran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Yet, Iran continued compliance with the deal, stressing that the remaining signatories to the agreement, specially the Europeans had to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they want Tehran to remain in compliance. The Iranian officials had earlier warned that the European Union’s failure in providing the needed ground for Tehran to enjoy the economic benefits of the nuclear deal would exhaust the country’s patience.

Almost a year later, however, the EU failed to provide Tehran with its promised merits. Then, the US state department announced that it had not extended two waivers, one that allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman, and one that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia.

Until May, Iran was allowed to ship low-enriched uranium produced at Natanz to Russia before it hit the 300-kg limit and the US measure leaves no way for Tehran other than exceeding the ceiling for storing the enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Also, the United States would no longer waive sanctions that allowed Iran to ship heavy water produced at its Arak facility beyond a 300-ton limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal to Oman for storage which again forces Tehran to store it inside country in violation of the nuclear deal.

In return, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced in a statement on May 8 that the country had modified two of its undertakings under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in return for the US abrogation of the deal and other signatories inability to make up for the losses under the agreement, warning that modifications would continue if the world powers failed to take action in line with their promises.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran declares that at the current stage, it does not any more see itself committed to respecting the limitations on keeping enriched uranium and heavy water reserves,” the statement said.

Then Iran gave Europe 60 days to either normalize economic ties with Iran or accept the modification of Tehran’s obligations under the agreement and implement the Europe’s proposed Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX) to facilitate trade with Iran.

Iran set up and registered a counterpart to INSTEX called Special Trade and Financing Instrument between Iran and Europe (STFI) to pave the way for bilateral trade.

Then on June 28, Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid announced that INSTEX has become operational.

“INSTEX now operational, first transactions being processed and more EU Members States to join. Good progress on Arak and Fordow projects,” Schmid wrote on her twitter account after a meeting of the Joint Commission on JCPOA ended in Vienna following three and a half hours of talks by the remaining signatories to the deal (the EU3 and Russia and China).

It was the 12th meeting of the Joint Commission on JCPOA in Vienna.

Meantime, seven European countries–Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden–in a joint statement expressed their support for the efforts for implementation of the INSTEX.

Later, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi described the nuclear deal joint commission meeting with the Europeans as “a step forward”, but meantime, reminded that it did not meet Iran’s expectations.

“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” said Araqchi, who headed the Iranian delegation at the JCPOA joint commission meeting in Vienna.

Despite their non-commitment to undertakings under the JCPOA, the Europeans took a step against Iran’s interests last Thursday by seizing an Iranian oil tanker by Britain at the US request.

Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the United States to Britain.

Borrell was quoted by Reuters as saying that Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters.

Spain does not recognize the waters around Gibraltar as British.

Experts believe that the measure taken by the British government in seizing the Syria-bound Iranian tanker is illegal and can have serious consequences for the government in London as it would mean a lethal blow to the JCPOA.

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IRAN AND THE EU: DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS UNDERWAY

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By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

As promised, Iran is partially pulling out of the JCPOA nuclear deal. This can be called a “phase one withdrawal” since other phases are expected to follow in the coming months. The basis for this act is not limited to the actions of US President Donald Trump – who shredded the JCPOA deal unilaterally – but also to the failure of the European signatories (i.e. France, the UK and Germany) to offer any incentives for Iran to comply with the deal. This leaves the entire JCPOA agreement in a kind of limbo, now that western leaders have shown themselves untrustworthy to honour any future deals in the wake of Trump’s abdication. The absence of necessary trust and partnership seems to preclude any future pacts between nations, notably between the US, Europe and Middle Eastern countries.

The size of the US market blocks any effective European move to honour its commitment to the JCPOA. In an interview with al-Jazeera, Ellie Geranmayeh, deputy director of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Middle East and North Africa programme, sees the launch of INSTEX as important because of the political message it sends. “The E3 are preparing the roadmap to sustain trade with Iran, for now it’s going to be restricted – but there is the hope that it will be expanded with time.”

Europe is asking Iran to wait without offering any prospects of what it can do next. European leaders are asking for more time and “hope” to find a solution, a very nebulous prospect so long as Trump is in power and Europe is not united. Indeed, EU Foreign policy is far from being homogenous. Even if the European leaders’ signatories have not imitated Trump by revoking the nuclear deal, they have offered nothing to compensate for the damage to Iran’s economy created by the harsh US sanctions.

The Iran-EU commercial relationship is suffering much more than the Iran-US commercial relationship. Following Trump’s ultimatum to all companies doing business with Iran, EU businesses fled Iran. Some of them paid compensation for not honouring their commitments. Their precipitate departure undermines the prospects of future commercial deals between Iran and EU companies.

Europe is allowing Iran to buy medicine and food through its new INSTEX monetary system. However, Iran can buy such supplies, with no obstacles, from nearby Turkey and other non-European countries. The European continent has become unessential to Iran.

Iran is now following through on what it promised 60 days ago, on the anniversary of Trump’s revoking the nuclear deal. Iran is still very far from developing a nuclear weapon but has waited 14 months to show how its patience, await with no benefits to its economy while its population suffers.

Europe has nothing to offer but verbal support. It is not in a position to stand against the US; it is not prepared to face US sanctions; is lacksthe backbone to do today what France did in 1986 when it refused to give military support to US warplanes to bomb Libya.

This is just the beginning of Iran’s counter measures.

Proofread byC.G.B.

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