PARIS: Washington will not budge on its decision to impose fresh sanctions on corporations operating in Iran, despite a European request for exemption, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
“International companies active in Iran face the threat of US sanctions within weeks after Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries to help keep a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran alive,” the paper reported.
France, Britain, Germany and the European Union had on June 6 sent US President Donald Trump’s administration a joint official request for their companies to be exempt from the fresh US sanctions on Iran.
The plea had come as European leaders scrambled to save the hard fought deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015 under which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear capacities in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.
Trump announced he was abandoning the deal in May paving the way for new sanctions on the Islamic republic and punitive measures for those who trade with it.
In a formal letter, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to grant the European powers the waiver they had asked for, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing diplomats.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire had already said the United States would not grant Europe its request.
“I wrote in the springtime to Steve Mnuchin … to ask him for an exemption for European companies legally working in Iran,” Le Maire said according to an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro that was published on Friday.
Failing an outright exemption, Le Maire had also asked for more time before the sanctions regime was due to kick in.
“We have just received the answer, and it’s negative,” he said.
Washington’s refusal came as Trump called Europe a foe in trade and renewed accusations that the EU was taking advantage of the United States.
Analysts say European firms which have rushed to invest in Iran after the lifting of sanctions over the past three years have the most to lose from the renewed sanctions.