US Rejects EU Request for Iran Sanctions Relief

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The United States has rejected a European request for some of its key businesses to be exempt from US sanctions on Iran.

Ministers from Germany, France, the UK and European Union last month requested broad carve-outs from Washington's Iran sanctions for sectors including health care, finance, automotive and energy doing business with Iran.

In a letter to European nations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the appeal, NBC News reported, citing US and European officials.

"We will seek to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime," the letter stated. It also said the United States would only make exemptions if it served its own national security interests.

Washington's refusal, while widely expected, adds to already strained trans-Atlantic relations after President Donald Trump launched repeated verbal broadsides against long-time US allies and threatened to escalate a brewing trade war.

It comes as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on Europe and other countries to cut economic ties with Iran over what Washington called Tehran's support for “terrorism and spreading of regional instability”.

In May, Pompeo issued a 12-point list of demands from Iran, including halting its missile program and ending alleged role in Syria and Yemen. 

The letter to European nations said the US would ramp up economic pressure on Iran until there was a "tangible, demonstrable and sustained shift in the policies we have enumerated”.

European states have sought to protect their businesses operating in Iran following the Trump administration's withdrawal earlier this year from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Washington's rejection of the exemption requests means that European companies that rushed to do business with Iran following the lifting of sanctions could be subjected to extra-territorial enforcement of US sanctions and be cut off from the US-dominated world financial system.

The first round of US sanctions on Iran goes into effect in August, followed by ones targeting Iran's oil exports in November.

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