Big EU companies not ready to oppose US sanctions on Iran — Russian envoy

TASS – Big EU companies are not ready to oppose US sanctions on Iran despite the European Union’s decision to neutralize the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told reporters on Wednesday.

According to him, the EU’s move “was made first and foremost in the interest of the European companies but most big EU companies have already made their choice, making it clear they were not ready to oppose US sanctions and continue their activities on the Iranian market.”

“I have information about at least a hundred such companies coming from EU member states,” the Russian envoy said. “Their choice is easy to understand in a quantitative sense as their business in the US is larger than in Iran,” he added. “This is why their interests concerning financing and production are more closely linked with the US market and – which is the most important thing – the global financial system based on the US dollar,” Chizhov said.

He pointed out that the EU’s moves could help small and middle-sized European companies not depending on the US market and the dollar. “They would be glad to use the opportunities that the Iranian market offers but the problem is that they don’t usually trade in oil while Iran’s priority target is to sell oil. Judging from figures, Iran has been selling three-thirds of its oil to China and is likely to continue doing that but the remaining one-third is a rather large amount,” the Russian envoy said.

New blocking statute

Chizhov noted that the European Union’s decision concerning US sanctions on Iran, which took effect on August 7, was based on the 1996 blocking statute aimed at protecting EU companies from Washington’s sanctions against Cuba. The document was never implemented as the US removed its restrictions in 1998.

“Perhaps, at heart, our European partners expect the US to change its mind at some point or at least to make exceptions for its closest allies,” the Russian envoy went on to say. “However, Washington’s policies, including the economic policy of the current US administration, let alone the Congress, have been unpredictable,” he added.

The EU’s new blocking statute aimed at protecting EU companies from US sanctions against Iran was brought into force on August 7. The document prohibits EU companies from facilitating the implementation of US sanctions and enforcing the rulings of foreign courts based on these sanctions. However, if a company decides to pull out of Iran, it will face no punishment.