Defying US Sanctions: EU Payment System to Trade with Iran is Ready

Written by | Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Instex, payment system designed by the EU to circumvent US sanctions on trade with Iran, will be ready soon, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced earlier this week. Maas was having talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about saving the nuclear pact with world powers signed in 2015.

“This is an instrument of a new kind, so it’s not straightforward to operationalize it,” said Maas, pointing to the complexity of installation of a new payments system. “But all the formal requirements are in place now, and so I’m assuming we’ll be ready to use it in the foreseeable future,” the German minister added. “Tehran will cooperate with EU signatories of the deal to save it,” confirmed Zarif. Instex could protect at least some of Iran’s economy from the sweeping US sanctions in exchange for Iran’s commitments under the deal to cut back on its nuclear program.

While the US has withdrawn from the deal, France, Britain, and Germany designed Instex as a special-purpose instrument to defuse the rising US-Iranian conflict. Maas also warned the tensions may have an impact on the entire Middle Eastern region which makes keeping the nuclear pact alive an important task for the EU. “There is a serious situation in the region. An escalation of tension is becoming uncontrollable and military action wouldn’t be in line with the interests of any party,” continued Maas. Instex is expected to meet norms for legitimate financing set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, although Iran is not yet fully compliant with them.

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