British, French and German ambassadors jointly tried to persuade US to outline how humanitarian supplies could be guaranteed
Iranian technicians work at the Kharg oil terminalat the Kharg Island. The US government has announced it will reimpose sanctionsthat had been waived under the Iran nuclear deal. Photograph: AbedinTaherkenareh/EPA
European governments have so far failed to persuade the Trumpadministration to guarantee Iranian imports of basic foods and medicine afterthe imposition of blanket sanctions next week, according todiplomats familiar with the negotiations.
The sanctions – on oil, shipping and banking, lifted after Iran agreed tostrict curbs on its nuclear programme in 2015 – are to be reimposed on Monday six months afterDonald Trump walked out of the nuclear deal, with more than 700 new banks,companies, individuals and vessels being added to existing blacklists.
Humanitarian supplies are officially exempted from sanctions, but in thepast risk-averse foreign banks and companies have avoided all transactions with Iran forfear of being penalised, leading to severe shortages of life-saving medicinesand food staples in the years preceding the 2015 agreement.
“There’s no doubt that the lives of thousands of patients will be atrisk,” Ahmad Ghavideh, of Iran’s haemophilia society told the Guardian by phonefrom Tehran.
“Any delay in supply of medicine, particularly in the sector I work in,will have catastrophic consequences,” said the head of the NGO. “My worry isnot for today, but in six months’ time when our supply runs out. They claimthat the imports of medicines are exempted from sanctions but in practice,because of banking restrictions, we don’t have access to medicine oringredients needed to make them internally.”
The UK, French and German ambassadors to the US – the three countries areco-signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal – made joint visits to the treasury andstate departments in September in an effort to persuade the administration toproduce a “white list”. This would give clear guidelines about what channelsEuropean banks and companies should follow to conduct legitimate transactionswith Iran without fear of future penalties.
“We are expecting our American friends to make some gestures onhumanitarian goods,” Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to Washington saidthis week. “Of course humanitarian goods are not sanctioned. But the fact isthe banks are so terrified of sanctions that they don’t want to do anythingwith Iran. It means that in a few months, there is a strong risk that therewill be shortage of medicine in Iran if we don’t do something positive.”
Araud said it was not enough to exempt humanitarian goods from the list ofsanctions. “You really need to be more positive and to say how to do it. If youdon’t say how to do it, the banks will not do it. So we are waiting for atechnical answer,” the ambassador said at the Hudson Institute think tank.
Asked about the administration’s response, Araud said: “As forhumanitarian issues we have not actually received an answer.”
“The whole idea of a white list is frowned on by the administration,”another European diplomat said.
Theentrance of the Bank Melli Iran branch in Hamburg, Germany. ‘Banks do not haveconfidence in Iran’s banking system,’ a Trump official said. Photograph:Mauritz Antin/EPA
On Friday, the state department’s special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, whomet the European ambassadors in September, appeared to rule out making specialprovisions for humanitarian goods, beyond formally exempting them fromsanctions.
“The burden is not on the United States to identify the safe channels,”Hook told reporters. “ We have done our part to permit the sale of humanitariangoods to Iran. That is our part. That is our role. Iran has a role to makethese transactions possible. Banks do not have confidence in Iran’s bankingsystem … That’s Iran’s problem; it is not our problem.”
The three European parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, knownas the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), strongly oppose the Trumpadministration’s decision to violate it and are seeking to insulate Europeancompanies doing business with Iran from US sanctions by the creation of a“special purpose vehicle” that would provide a channel for trade in euros.
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, issued a joint statementwith the British, French and German foreign ministers on Friday saying they“deeply regret” the reimposition of US sanctions and would continue working onways of keeping legitimate trade with Iran going.
“Our collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering,” thestatement added.
Briefing journalists about the coming sanctions, the US treasurysecretary, Steven Mnuchin, said he did not think the European effort to bypassUS sanctions would work.
“I have no expectation that there will be any transactions that aresignificant that go through a special purpose vehicle based upon what I’veseen,” Mnuchin said. “But if there are transactions that have the intent ofevading our sanctions, we will aggressively pursue our remedies.”
European diplomats say there is a debate going on within theadministration on the issue of humanitarian supplies, with some officials inthe state department warning that the US risked being blamed for Iraniancivilian deaths if more is not done to guarantee deliveries of medicines andbasic necessities.
They said the hardest line came from the White House, which relished thepressure it was putting on Iran. On Friday, Trump tweeted a photograph of himself in thestyle of an advertisement for the Game of Thrones fantasy TV series, with thetagline: “Sanctions Are Coming, November 5”.
Although the administration is not officially pursuing regime change inIran, one European diplomat said that is ultimately the aim of the nationalsecurity adviser, John Bolton.
“Bolton believes the regime will collapse,” the diplomat said. “So thediscussion we try to have with this administration is what happens after, andit has never led anywhere so far.”
Trump explored the possibility of holding a secret meeting with theIranian president, Hassan Rouhani, at the UN general assembly in 2017, butRouhani rebuffed the proposal. The US president is said to be no longerinterested in talks, believing that economic isolation will force Tehran intoconcessions without the need for negotiations.
“First [US officials] say it is too early, and the Iranians have tosuffer,” the European diplomat said of administration policy. “They have tofeel the full brunt of sanctions and we’ll see.”
Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council onForeign Relations said: “The administration has told the Europeans: we are notgoing to go the extra mile in reassuring European companies on this front.
地点:美国, 日期:11/5/2018, 字数:16577, 关于:美食 新闻, 次数:21
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