European Union and Iran agree on new payment system to skirt USA sanctions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statement to the media Sept. 17 2018 at the State Department in Washington

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statement to the media Sept. 17 2018 at the State Department in Washington

The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement earlier this year and imposed sanctions on businesses dealing with Tehran.

Spearheaded by former US President Barak Obama and negotiated over nearly two years, the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ended a perennial impasse between Iran and the US.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking late Monday alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that the agreement was in the global interest and pointed to United Nations inspectors' findings that Iran is in compliance.

The EU and Iran say the deal is working and the joint statement says that the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified 12 times that Iran is in compliance with its obligations.

The joint statement said the six countries that signed the 2015 nuclear agreement "reconfirmed their commitment to its full and effective implementation in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere". As Mogherini put it, the more actions the JCPOA parties take to live up to their end of the bargain, the more reasons Iran has to remain in the deal.

The US administration reintroduced the previous sanctions while imposing new ones on the Islamic Republic. The deal was reached under then-President Barack Obama, but Obama's successor, Donald Trump, pulled out of the accord in May of this year, saying it didn't address Tehran's ballistic missile program or its influence in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards also kept up the anti-Washington rhetoric, calling Trump "evil and adventurous" and accusing him of waging economic war on Tehran, Reuters reported.

On Thursday, Trump called on OPEC to lower prices, after benchmark Brent oil reached $80 a barrel, mainly stemming from a decline in exports from Iran, because of fresh US sanctions.

The EU, US allies, and the worldwide nuclear watchdog, IAEA, maintain that Iran continues to abide by the terms of the agreement.

Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi, reporting from the United Nations headquarters in NY, said the new entity will act as a "clearing house, a middle man, so to speak, between Europeans and Iranians as they try to do business".

"We've sanctioned Russian Federation for the chemical, biological weapons used in Skripal", stated Pompeo.

Ms Mogherini said the technical experts would discuss the details of the new payment mechanisms.

Rodger Shanahan, a research fellow at the Lowry Institute for International Policy, called the European Union agreement "a poke in the eye for the US".

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