Iran says EU’s channel for trade not enough without oil

By Annmarie Hordern, Ladane Nasseri and Golnar Motevalli on 7/2/2019

LONDON, DUBAI and TEHRAN (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s oil minister said a European mechanism to shield some trade with his country from crippling U.S. sanctions won’t be useful if it doesn’t allow for oil sales, as efforts to preserve the unraveling nuclear deal face a looming deadline.

“Without oil deal, it’s very clear, Instex will not work,” Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Vienna on Tuesday, referring to the trade conduit established by the UK, France and Germany.

The three European nations that remain party to the 2015 nuclear accord have been scrambling to find ways to skirt the sanctions the Trump administration imposed after it quit the pact last year. Iran has given the Europeans until July 7 to deliver, saying it will breach additional restrictions on its nuclear activities if they don’t.

Instex is mainly intended to facilitate trade of basic goods such as food and medical products, but not the oil sales that are Iran’s lifeline and a main target of the sanctions. Iran says it can’t be expected to abide by the accord while the U.S. penalties rob it of the economic benefits it was promised in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

Iran is striving “day and night to find ways” to export its oil, Zanganeh said.

On Monday, Iran made good on an earlier warning that it would exceed the limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium, designed to prevent it from building weapons. The move has put remaining parties to the 2015 deal in an awkward position vis-a-vis the U.S., and elicited expressions of concern from France and the UK.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris is working to ensure Iran “fully meets its obligations and continues to benefit from the economic advantages of the agreement.”

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