France’s finance minister says European countries should push back harder against the Trump administration over the Iran nuclear deal and not act as “vassals” to the US.
Bruno Le Maire said on Friday on Europe-1 radio that Europe should not accept that the U.S. is the “world’s economic policeman.” He wants European companies to be able to continue trade with Iran despite US President Donald Trump’s decision this week to re-impose sanctions.
Le Maire proposed creating a European body that would have the same kind of powers that the US Justice Department has to punish foreign companies for their trade practices.
As a result of the new US sanctions, companies worldwide must stop doing business with Iran or risk US fines or other punishment. The sanctions will not only bar US companies from doing business with Iran, but they also will hurt foreign companies by prohibiting them from using American banks unless they cut links with Iran.
Trump argued that the 2015 deal, which allowed for the lifting of sanctions, wasn’t tough enough on Iran.
Meanwhile, the US government tried to further pinch Iran’s finances by disrupting a currency exchange network allegedly used to transfer millions of dollars to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The Treasury Department said in a statement on Thursday it took joint action with the United Arab Emirates against nine Iranian individuals and entities involved in the network, and threatened sanctions against any other companies that help those nine.
European governments tried for months to persuade Trump to stick with the deal but failed, and now fear it will raise the risk of conflict in the region. Military tensions between Iran and Israel have already mounted, and oil prices are rising on the uncertainty.
The top diplomats of Iran, France, Britain and Germany are expected to meet early next week to discuss their next steps.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed the importance of protecting Israel’s security but urged a “new path” of negotiations with Iran to calm tensions.