Iran Pleads With EU to Set SPV Deadline

Published November 28th, 2018 - 06:27 GMT
Miguel Arias Canete (R), Commissioner of the European Commission in charge of Climate Action and Energy, and Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi shake hands during a joint press point in Brussels on November 26, 2018. AFP
Miguel Arias Canete (R), Commissioner of the European Commission in charge of Climate Action and Energy, and Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi shake hands during a joint press point in Brussels on November 26, 2018. AFP

Iranian vice president and nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, has urged the European Union to set up the special mechanism to facilitate trade with Iran "before time runs out."

"We hope that before time runs out, something tangible is achieved so that the agreement remains intact," Saleh said on Monday in a joint press conference with Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, at the end of the high-level seminar on peaceful nuclear cooperation.

Ali Akbar Salehi said the European Union was “doing its best” after the United States pulled out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports this month, even as the bloc’s efforts to salvage trade ties have floundered.

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He praised EU for its support to keep alive the nuclear agreement and its recognition that JCPOA is important for the security of Europe, while admitting the existence of some difficulties to launch the Special Vehicle Purpose (SPV) — a payment mechanism that would allow European companies to bypass US-imposed sanctions on Iran and that no country has agreed so far, with determination, to host it for fear of facing US penalties.

Following Salehi's remarks, EU announced on Monday that either France or Germany might" become the host nation for the Special Vehicle Purpose (SPV) — a payment mechanism that would allow European companies to bypass US-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Luxembourg and Austria, under the US pressure, had refused to host the SPV, with Luxembourg officials being warned that hosting the mechanism could damage the country’s place as a major financial center hosting many international investment funds.

Iran’s nuclear chief warned the European Union of “ominous” consequences if it did not follow through with action to keep the economic benefits of the 2015 nuclear agreement alive.

Insisting on the need to stop wasting time, Salehi said "if words are not turned into deeds, then ... it is very ominous, the situation would be unpredictable."

If nuclear deal breaks down, he said, no sides will benefit, and the situation will certainly change and everything will be in turmoil, adding that the EU needed to “keep it alive”.

"Perhaps it was not the best agreement that the negotiators desired, but I think it was the only possible agreement we could have reached," he said.

"We hope that together with EU and other remaining parties to the accord - China and Russia, we could do our utmost to keep this agreement alive; it is a battle we have to win, we cannot afford to lose this battle, he warned.

Commissioner Cañete, for his part, said the technical efforts to launch the special vehicle to facilitate commercial transactions with Iran "has progressed in recent days and weeks," led by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and supported by the Commission and the EU member states' diplomatic services, however, has insisted that it is "a very comprehensive and unique initiative".

Cañete has insisted that "no one should have any doubt about the level of political determination" of the bloc to launch the trade mechanism "quickly" but has noted that the goal is "to create something that works and is viable."

The payment channel is not directed against the United States and "is not designed to bypass any sanctions", said the Commissioner, who recalled that the EU has already updated its regulations to make it clear that US sanctions are not applicable to European companies and has insisted in that its objective is "to give the necessary sovereign guarantees to market participants involved in legitimate business with Iran".


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