Iran’s Foreign Minister has reminded the European Union that Iran is still waiting to receive guarantees that the EU will continue to buy Iranian oil even after U.S. sanctions kick in on November 4, Reuters reports, citing the Iranian Students’ News Agency.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said,
“We are still waiting for Europe to take action on the sale of Iranian oil and the preservation of banking channels,” highlighting once again the tough choice the European Union is facing.
Some, such as President Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, have put it bluntly:
the EU must choose between Iran and the United States.
Yet the EU seems loath to make such a crude choice and is trying to maneuver between the two.
After triggering legislation known as the blocking statute, which effectively prohibits European companies from complying with third-party sanctions, the EU last week approved an aid package of about US$21 million (18 million euro) for Iran to mitigate the effect of the U.S. sanctions. The package is part of a bigger one to the tune of US$58 million (50 million euro) in a bid to stop Iran from dropping the nuclear deal.
Zarif, however, rejected any suggestion that the aid package had anything to do with the nuclear deal:
“This is a package that will help both sides have communication with each other and it doesn’t have anything to do with the nuclear agreement and other hype,” he said.
Keeping its oil export channel to Europe open is almost as important for Iran as keeping exports to China and India. The matter is quickly becoming urgent as Iraq and Saudi Arabia eye Iran’s market share in Europe and taking over it.
An earlier Reuters report this month cited shipping data, which revealed that Iranian oil shipments to Europe had fallen by 35 percent since the start of the year, to 415,000 bpd, while Saudi exports to the EU had doubled and Iraqi shipments had added 30 percent.
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