LONDON The European Union is about to re-activate an old law to try to persuade businesses to defy US sanctions and continue to trade with Iran, in an attempt to salvage the nuclear treaty.
Senior EU officials accused the US of violating international law by re-introducing the sanctions, which had been dropped in 2015 in exchange for concessions by Iran on its nuclear industry and weapons research.
The European Commission’s high representative Federica Mogherini, in a joint statement with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK, said they will activate a ‘blocking statute’ on Tuesday morning, local time, in direct defiance of the sanctions which will be imposed at the same time.
“The (nuclear treaty) is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world,” the EU statement said.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US.”
The statute prohibits EU companies from complying with the US sanctions, which apply to Iran’s automotive and financial sectors as well as trade in gold and other metals.
And EU companies trading with Iran will be able to recover damages in EU courts for losses incurred through the sanctions.
European Commission officials told reporters that EU companies would be able to sue for compensation from US banks or other businesses who acted to enforce the sanctions.
“The EU is a market economy [;] we protect freedom of enterprise,” a senior Commission official said, Politico reported. “The purpose of the blocking statute is not to oblige any company to invest but actually it is to make sure their business decisions remain free and not imposed upon by legislation, which we consider unlawful.”
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