Bolton: US Could Sanction European Companies Doing Business With Iran

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Thanks to sanctions relief, Iranian oil exports soared, flooding the regime with money. I have opposed the Iran Deal since its inception and I applaud President Trump for ending the United States participation in a deal that never stood to benefit the United States or our allies. The views expressed are his own. Iran also built an underground facility near Qom and supplied insurgents with roadside bombs and training to kill and maim US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extraordinary thing is that there is no Plan B. If Donald Trump's re-imposition of American sanctions on Iran does not cause President Hassan Rouhani's government to buckle at once (which is nearly unimaginable), there is nothing else he can do short of going to war with the country.

The nuclear deal was negotiated by then-president Barack Obama with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation to limit Iran's nuclear activities in return for relief from crippling global sanctions coordinated by the Obama administration.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said while the Iran deal was "a flawed agreement" because of a lack of unfettered inspections and other problems, leaving the deal isolates the USA and Trump should have extended it for at least another six months to work with allies.

"Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression", said a Western trade diplomat on condition of anonymity. French, German and United Kingdom politicians consider his presidency an aberration and a temporary setback.

Now President Donald Trump has announced America's withdrawal from the JCPOA. It seems clear that, from Trump's perspective, the Iran deal and the diplomatic advances with North Korea are closely related - and that his policy of "maximum pressure" is paying off.

Johnson was far from the only senior European politician to seek to influence the U.S. on the issue: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both visited Washington DC last month to emphasise their eagerness to work through USA concerns around the existing agreement rather than rejecting it outright.

"Do we accept the vassalization of Europe in commercial matters?" The most relevant precedent concerns the extraterritorial Cuba sanctions in the Helms-Burton Act, which Bill Clinton signed into effect in 1996. It rendered USA rulings against firms that defied the US restrictions unenforceable in the EU. Another could be an independent financing mechanism allowing European companies to avoid US banks.

Europe's stance on Cuba allowed European companies, such as Spain's Sol Melia hotel group and France's Altadis tobacco company, to remain investors in Cuba after Helms-Burton.

Citigroup's Ed Morse expects oil prices to rise past $80/bbl in the short term as Iranian production declines, but with those higher prices creating more production growth in the USA and some other places - enough to bring crude down to the low $60s or high $50s in 2019.

Mr. Le Maire also called for the EU to create financial instruments that would sit beyond the reach of Washington's powers and an agency that would enforce European law against foreign-based companies-a tit-for-tat rejoinder to Washington's powers over non-U.S. companies. "He's been saying he's unhappy about it, a lot of people think he's blowing a lot of smoke, [but] there comes a point that Trump is being very credible, he's very serious, he's acting on his words". In Cuba, the biggest European investments were in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the decades of close cooperation across the Atlantic since World War II will prove hard to abandon entirely. Most of the new money is coming from China and the EU. Instead of geniality, what we've received from Iran is threats to wipe out Israel, the harassment of the USA military to the point of taking hostages and a bloody, terroristic presence in the Middle East meant to say Iran would soon be in murderous control. "They will never abandon the USA for us", an Iranian protester told reporters.

"The United States no longer makes empty threats". With its influence and financial networks, the European Union is capable of blunting US sanctions.

Asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: "It's possible".

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