Trump administration 'closely following' efforts by European Union to circumvent Iran sanctions

Iran says US-sanctions workaround by EU soon to be announced

France, Germany and Britain have set up a European mechanism for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert USA sanctions, although diplomats acknowledged it is unlikely to yield big commercial transactions Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat.

Washington's major European allies opposed last year's decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon the 2015 deal, under which worldwide sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

German broadcaster NDR reported that the European Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be named INSTEX-Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges.

"It's essential we show our American colleagues that we are going in the same direction as them on a series of issues such as ballistic missiles and Iran's regional activities", Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said as he arrived for the European Union meeting in Bucharest.

"Registration is a big step, but there is still more work to be done", British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said. "It is signaling a willingness to continue to have trans-Atlantic Iran policy be divided, as well as lack of interest in cooperation over checking the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism", he said.

Trump's decision to pull America out of the Iran nuclear deal in May pushed the three European nations to create the method.

The US move exacerbated an already deep economic crisis in Iran and deterred many European firms from continuing to trade with Iran lest they fall foul of increasingly restrictive US Treasury sanctions.

The US Embassy in Germany told Reuters it did not expect INSTEX to blunt its effort to apply economic pressure on Tehran. Washington also uses its global clout to penalize non-US banks and companies that do business with Pyongyang.

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At a meeting of foreign ministers in Romania on Thursday, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said it was up to individual companies to decide whether to invest in Iran.

"The way in which. the American administration makes policy in general at the moment, with a lot of sanctions, with the fact that worldwide agreements are scrapped, is not a good way to cooperate", Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the head of the ruling CDU party in Germany, told Bloomberg, a United States news agency, last week.

On January 25, France said it was ready to impose new sanctions on Tehran if talks on its missile program make no progress.

Tehran has grown frustrated with the slow European response to the reimposition of United States sanctions, but has pledged to maintain its nuclear deal commitments so long as it receives the promised economic benefits.

And the new initiative comes at a time when Europe's attitude toward Iran is hardening, after a recent long-range missile test that rattled policymakers and a series of assassinations on European soil that soured relations between many European countries and Tehran.

New US sanctions have largely succeeded in persuading European companies to abandon plans to invest in Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo previously warned of "swift punishment" for countries doing business with Iran, thus INSTEX is seen as a first small step toward greater European economic independence, and toward calming Iranian criticisms centered on seeing "dollar domination" as fueling European weakness to follow through on JCPOA stipulations.

The EU, earlier this month, blacklisted two Iran regime members and part of the Iranian ministry for intelligence and security over the Danish and French plots.

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