The Austrian president urges European countries to act independently of the US under Trump in their Iran policy, among other issues.
Mar 19, 2019
Austria has denounced US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and his sanctions threat against companies doing business with Tehran, saying European countries should not dance to Trump’s tune.
In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt on Monday, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen urged Europe to act independently of the United States regarding its policy towards Iran, among other issues.
He also complained that Trump’s pressure on European firms to cut trade with Iran has gone “too far.”
Trump “has pulled out from Iran’s nuclear deal, which Washington had negotiated and coordinated for years, with no reason and subsequently banned European companies from doing business with Iran, threatening with grave sanctions,” he said. “I think that this goes too far. The Europeans do not have to dance when Trump whistles. This also applies to other points of discord.”
Last year, Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran despite international objections.
Since then, the US has been trying to coerce the European parties to the JCPOA into following its lead and scrapping the agreement.
However, the remaining signatories have pledged to make efforts to compensate for Washington’s withdrawal and make sure that Iran will be able to collect its economic dividends of the deal.
Iran’s European partners in the JCPOA recently unveiled a non-dollar direct payment channel, known as INSTEX, with the aim of protecting their companies against US bans and enabling them to continue trade with Iran.
In its initial stage, INSTEX will facilitate trade of humanitarian goods such as medicine, food and medical devices.
Tehran has welcomed the launch as a “first step,” calling on the EU to fully activate INSTEX to cover other areas of trade and take more practical measures to offset US bans.