EghtesadOnline: Germany’s foreign minister said he is hopeful Europe in the coming weeks will be able to finalize its long-promised payment channel for conducting trade with Iran.
"We are working urgently to clarify the final requirements -- such as determining the country where the mechanism will be headquartered. That isn't easy in a confrontative situation with the US because it is, of course, trying to exert pressure," Heiko Maas said in an interview with the German magazine DER SPIEGEL.
Maa's comments come as Iran's criticism about Europe's delay in launching the special purpose vehicle (as the payment system is known) has increased in recent days.
Major European powers say they are working on a plan to establish the SPV in order to shield Iranian trade from the long reach of US sanctions by zeroing exposure to the dollar, according to Financial Tribune.
The crucial mechanism was meant to be in place before the new year but nothing has happened yet.
Officials in Tehran have expressed frustration with European procrastination in launching the SPV. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that while the Europeans ascribe the delays to the claim that they want to really make the mechanism "operational", the underlying reason is that “they are not yet ready to pay the cost of defying the US.”
During his trip to India this week, Zarif said Iran will not wait for Europe and build relations with its traditional partners like India, China and Russia.
Running Out of Time
In a grimmer warning, however, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said earlier this week that Europe “has run out of time” for completing its payment system for Iran.
In his interview Maas lamented America's rejection of multilateralism and said President Donald Trump does not see the US as a leading power among liberal democracies.
"We certainly can no longer assume that we will be involved in decisions, that we will be consulted [by the US]. The most recent example is the announcement that American troops are to be withdrawn from Syria. We were not informed in advance of the abrupt change in course," Maas said.
The high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, also said Friday that Brussels together with the international community is working to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We are working, as a union of 28 member states and with the rest of the international community, to preserve a nuclear agreement that has so far been implemented in full, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 13 consecutive reports,” Mogherini said in an interview, which was published in European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).
She went on to say, “Part of this work requires us to guarantee that firms wanting to do legitimate business with Iran are allowed to do so.”
“This is what we are working on right now: tools that will assist, protect and reassure economic actors pursuing legitimate business with Iran,” Mogherini reiterated.