Europe will create a special body to be able to continue trading with Iran, especially in oil, and avoid U.S. sanctions, the European Union (EU)’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday evening at the United Nations. “In practical terms this will mean that EU member States will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran,” Mogherini said after a meeting held to discuss ways to save the 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme following the U.S. withdrawal from the pact in May.
“This will allow European companies to continue trade with Iran in accordance with EU law and could be open to other partners in the world,” Mogherini said in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The representatives of the pact’s six remaining signatories – China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iran and Russia – were all present at the meeting, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
European sources said the new special purpose vehicle could act as a stock exchange or a sophisticated barter system enabling the businesses involved to escape U.S. sanctions.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in May from the Iran nuclear deal, aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring the atom bomb and enabling it to end its economic isolation by lifting the sanctions that had been crippling it.
Washington reestablished a series of heavy sanctions that also target companies or countries that continue to trade with or invest in Iran. Under that threat, an increasing number of businesses with heavy investments in the United States, such as Total and Daimler, have stopped all economic and financial activity with Iran for fear of U.S. reprisals.