Iran’s officials have renewed their hope for trade and investment links with Europe, bypassing US sanctions and bolstering a crippled Iranian economy.
Many in the regime, including the Supreme Leader, had been pessimistic about the Rouhani Government’s efforts for arrangements with the European Union. The EU had been unable to provide guarantees for large companies against sanctions, leading many firms to suspend business with Tehran before the comprehensive American restrictions were imposed on November 5.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Wednesday that discussions are progressing on a Special Purpose Vehicle which would allow Iran to trade with Europe — notably in sales of oil — without using the US dollar.
Araqchi tweeted after visits by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Political Director of the French Foreign Ministry, Nicolas de Riviere:
Yesterday and today, I had good meetings with political directors and nuclear negotiators of the UK and France in Tehran. The political will of the European Union and the three European countries [UK, France, and Germany] to preserve the JCPOA [2015 nuclear deal] is still strong.
Iranian news outlets said De Riviere discussed the final stages of establishment of the Special Purpose Vehicle.
Araqchi had warned the Europeans on Monday, as UK Foreign Secretary Hunt held meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani:
Nobody in Iran is going to give in to the sanctions. We will find our way, as we have done in the past.
If Europeans give in [to US sanctions] they will call into question their sovereignty, credibility, and security. If Europe thinks that the West Asia region is safe without the JCPOA, it can wait and see.
Shamkhani labelled European states as “accomplices” in US crimes: “Any collaboration of some European countries with policies of Trump’s administration will have negative impacts on long-term relations with our country….[There will be] a negative view of these countries, in the public opinion of Iranian people and regional nations,…as parties to crimes committed by the US, the Zionist regime, and reactionary [states] in the region.”