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Europe Asks U.S. for an Exemption From Sanctions on Iran

June 5, 2018

Without special exemptions from the secondary sanctions, French multinationals like the energy giant Total and the PSA Group, which makes Peugeot and Citroën vehicles, have already announced that they will pull out of Iran.

The European ministers asked the Americans for specific exemptions for companies, individuals and banks who invested in Iran after the deal went into effect on Jan. 16, 2016; for “key sectors,” like health care, pharmaceuticals, energy, autos and civil aviation; and for banking with the Central Bank of Iran. They also asked for extended periods to wind down their projects for companies that choose to leave Iran, and they made it clear that other requests for exemptions would be forthcoming, including from individual European companies.

The ministers say that their countries “share most of the concerns expressed by the U.S. regarding the status of Iran’s nuclear program after 2025, Iran’s ballistic missiles program and its destabilizing actions in the region.” But they assert that “preserving” the deal “is the best basis on which to engage Iran and address these concerns,” adding that, “As allies, we expect that the United States will refrain from taking action to harm Europe’s security interests.”

Unfortunately for the Europeans, perhaps, Mr. Trump does not seem to share their views on Iran, and he has proved not to be much swayed by appeals based on trans-Atlantic relations.

While it is not clear what he thinks will happen next, his national security adviser, John Bolton, wrote last month that Mr. Trump “decided that this deal actually undermines the security of the American people he swore to protect and, accordingly, ended U.S. participation in it.”

“This action reversed an ill-advised and dangerous policy and set us on a new course that will address the aggressive and hostile behavior of our enemies,” he added, “while enhancing our ties with partners and allies.”