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France, Germany, UK Seek Exemption From US Iran Sanctions

Britain, France and Germany have joined forces to urge the United States to exempt European companies from any sanctions the U.S. will slap on Iran after pulling out of an international nuclear agreement.

In a letter dated Monday to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, ministers from the three European countries said they “strongly regret” President Donald Trump’s decision last month to withdraw from the Iran deal. Trump has said sanctions will be imposed on any company doing business with Tehran.

 

The three European countries were also signatories of the 2015 deal, which was meant to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

 

In their letter, made public on Wednesday, the ministers said that “as close allies we expect that the extraterritorial effects of U.S. secondary sanctions will not be enforced on EU entities and individuals, and the United States will thus respect our political decision and the good faith of economic operators within EU legal territory.”

 

The ministers, which included British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and his German counterpart Olaf Scholz, said they want the U.S. to “grant exemptions” for EU companies that have been doing business with Iran since the deal came into force in 2016. They also said Iran should not be cut out of the SWIFT system for international money transfers.

 

Many companies from Europe and the U.S. have been steadily building up their investments in Iran in the past few years in the wake of the nuclear deal, particularly in the fields of pharmaceuticals, banking and oil.

 

France’s Le Maire tweeted Wednesday that EU “businesses must be able to pursue their activities.”

 

 

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