Bolton and Pompeo push hardline Trump White House position, with French and German companies among those with interests in Iran
Donald Trump is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies that do business in Iran following his withdrawal of the US from the international nuclear deal, his government reiterated on Sunday.
Trump’s most senior foreign policy aides signalled that the US would continue pressuring allies to follow Washington in backing out of the pact, which gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear programme.
John Bolton, Trump’s national security consultant, predicted that” the Europeans will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European firms have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.
Asked on CNN’s State of the Union whether that meant the Trump administration would impose sanctions against those firms, Bolton said:” It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments .”
US sanctions on Iran reimposed following Trump’s withdrawal not only block American firms from doing business in the country, but also bar foreign firms that do business there from accessing the entire US banking and fiscal system.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, said on Sunday wealth created in Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal” drove Iranian malign activity” in the region. He declined to rule out sanctions against European firms.
” The sanctions regime that is in place now is very clear on what specific requirements are ,” Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday.
Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear deal was sharply criticised by European leaders, who have pledged to uphold their side of the agreement.
Alarm has been particularly high in France, whose energy giant Total last year signed a$ 5bn bargain to extract Iranian natural gas. Airbus, the French-based aircraft manufacturer, has already begun delivering airplanes to Iran Air under a multi-billion dollar contract.
Volkswagen, the German automaker, has resumed exporting vehicles to Iran. Richard Grenell, the new US ambassador to Berlin, alerted this week in a tweet:” German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations instantly .”
Some European leaders have called for measures to nullify the US sanctions. Bruno Le Maire, the French ministers of finance, said last week:” We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty .”
European Union officials have indicated they may threaten similar measures to those that pressured then chairperson Bill Clinton to give waivers to European companies under US sanctions on countries such as Cuba during the 1990 s.
Trump himself hinted that there would be no concessions to European firms during remarks at the White House last week in which he corroborated the US withdrawal, which he promised during the 2016 presidential campaign.
” We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions ,” Trump said.” Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States .”
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