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Legal Matters

Britain Seeks Ways to Continue Trading with Iran

British officials have been turning to Japan for tips on how to dodge American sanctions on Iran, according to local media.

Britain is already seeking from Washington exemptions from some U.S. sanctions, which are being re-imposed by President Donald Trump because of the U.S. withdrawal earlier this year from a controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The British are especially keen to maintain banking links with Iran and to import Iranian oil.

According to local media, U.K. officials have been asking their Japanese counterparts how they managed in the past to sidestep some aspects of the pre-2015 sanctions regime, which allowed Tokyo to sign oil deals with Iran as well as insurance contracts without incurring U.S. penalties.

Re-imposed U.S. sanctions penalize any foreign companies that deal with Iran by barring them from doing business in America. That threat has already persuaded more than 50 Western firms to shutter their operations in Iran, including French automakers Renault and Peugeot and the French oil giant Total as well as Germany's Deutsche Bahn railway company and Deutsche Telekom.

Seeking waivers

British ministers have publicly announced that they are hoping to secure waivers from sanctions for oil imports, tanker insurance and banking. There is particular concern, say British officials, about the position of a gas field 240 miles from Aberdeen which is jointly owned by BP and a subsidiary of Iran's state-controlled oil company.

According to The Times newspaper, British diplomats and Treasury officials have discussed with their Japanese counterparts what options they may have of evading penalties, if British firms continue to trade with Iran. Britain's Foreign Office hasn't commented on the specific claims in report. But in a general statement it says: We are working with European and other partners, to ensure Iran continues to benefit from sanctions relief through legitimate business, for as long as Iran continues to meet its nuclear commitments under the deal.

Faltering Iranian economy

On Tuesday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was grilled by the country's lawmakers, who for the first time in his five-year tenure called him before parliament to answer questions about the country's faltering economy amid the tightening U.S. sanctions.

They asked him about high unemployment, rising food prices and the collapsing value of the Iranian currency. Rouhani, who overcame the opposition of hardliners in the first place to sign the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers, insisted Iran would overcome the the anti-Iranian officials in the White House.

Source: Voice of America


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