Bloomberg – Thre key European Union nations are set to make good on a pledge to help their companies trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions, a move that could help to salvage a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic but may have more political symbolism than economic impact.
The Trump administration has deemed the channel an attempt to evade its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, while casting doubt on its ability to circumvent U.S. restrictions. In December, the U.S. Treasury’s top sanctions official Sigal Mandelker, said she’s not concerned “at all” that the mechanism can sidestep sanctions.
Since the U.S. left the nuclear accord, the deal’s remaining powers — China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. — have struggled to provide the sanctions relief promised when Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear activities. The mechanism proposed by the European nations faced delays and skepticism that it can successfully persuade companies to trade.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said last week that Iran is ready to re-start its enrichment program using more advanced technology if the nuclear agreement fails, according to Iranian newswires. The country is considering the manufacture of nuclear fuel used in naval propulsion systems, implying it may ramp up uranium enrichment levels closer to the purity needed for weapons.