Non-EU States To Join INSTEX Trade Mechanism With Iran: Senior EU Official

A senior European Union official says non-EU members will be taking part in a mechanism established to enable non-dollar trade between the 28-nation bloc and Iran.

Britain, France, and Germany announced the establishment of the system, officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), in January. The apparatus is expected to circumvent the sanctions that the United States began re-imposing against Iran after leaving a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, the trio, and Russia and China.

As many as seven more EU members have also committed to use the apparatus for business purposes with the Islamic Republic. But on Thursday, Helga Schmid, secretary general of the European Union’s External Action Service (EEAS), said beyond the 10-strong European states, “more, also non-EU member states, will join” the trade instrument.

The system came into force after Iran complained why the European countries did not keep up their trade with the country as the nuclear deal mandates them to, and instead bow under the US sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.

In May, Iran initiated a set of countermeasures against Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the European deal partners’ failure to guarantee Tehran’s business interests under the agreement.

The countermeasures have seen Tehran surpass the 3.67-percent cap set by the deal on the level of its uranium enrichment, and the 130-tone ceiling placed on its heavy water reservoir.

Iran had accepted the limits voluntarily as part of the deal, despite not being obligated by the UN nuclear agency to commit to any such restrictions.

Late last month, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said INSTEX “has become operational and is processing the first transactions.”

In early July, though, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters that the Europeans’ commitments under the nuclear accord far exceeded the INSTEX.

He said Europeans had undertaken 11 commitments to the country under the JCPOA. These include Iran’s oil sales, which the US has been trying to block through the sanctions, secure financial returns from the sales and investment in Iran, as well as facilitation of transport, aviation, and shipping activities involving the country.

Zarif described the INSTEX as just a prelude to implementation of the 11-fold commitments.

Tehran has vowed to reverse all its nuclear responses as soon as the other JCPOA signatories begin fully implementing their nuclear obligations.

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