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A scarecrow model is set on fire by Iranian demonstratorson during the annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Al-Quds Day in Tehran, Iran, June 23, 2017..(Photo by: NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)
German/French entities may be sanctioned for busting Iran sanctions, U.S. envoy says
“The US will consider sanctions on those entities participating in these tactics,” Richard Grenell said, adding the French and German activities “would not be a smart move.”
The US government will contemplate sanctions against French and German entities that seek to evade sanctions on Iran’s clerical regime, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“The US will consider sanctions on those entities participating in these tactics,” said Grenell, adding that the French and German activities “would not be a smart move.”

Grenell’s strong statements were in response to a Monday Wall Street Journal article, which reported that “France and Germany have joined forces to rescue a European effort to create a payments channel to keep trade flowing with Iran, defying US attempts to take the air out of the plan.”

The WSJ article cited senior diplomats as the sources for the French and German strategy to circumvent US sanctions.

The US government classifies Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.

When asked about Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared Israel’s security interests to be part of its raison d’être, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told the Post: “We have an ongoing dialogue with Germany on Iran-related issues. We prefer to conduct it directly with the German authorities, and not through the media.”

However, just days ago at a pro-Israel conference in Frankfurt, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan urged Merkel’s administration to counter Iran because it is an “exporter of terror. Germany should take a more aggressive stance against the Iranian regime.... It was only yesterday that President Rouhani called Israel ‘metastatic cancer.’ History has taught us that antisemitic threats from fanatical leaders, and exporters of terror who have hegemonic aspirations, must be taken seriously.”

Erdan implored Merkel to join US sanctions against Iran.

President Reuven Rivlin also urged Merkel – during her visit to Jerusalem in October – to support American sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Merkel has consistently rejected Israel’s pleas to sanction Iran’s regime, raising questions about her administration’s support for the security of the Jewish state.

When the Post, via email, asked Germany’s Social Democratic Foreign Minister Heiko Maas – who is a zealous supporter of busting US sanctions against Iran, and who announced earlier this year that he went into politics “because of Auschwitz” – about the sanctions-evasion mechanism, an unnamed official of the German Foreign Ministry told the Post on Wednesday: “Foreign Minister Maas has repeatedly expressed his clear attitude to the Shoah in his speeches.”

When asked for specifics, the Foreign Ministry declined to respond.

When asked for a specific reaction to Ambassador Grenell’s comment, the unnamed official referred the Post to entries on the German Foreign Ministry website. The Post found no entries on the current main page of the website that responds to Grenell’s comment, and the matter of Israel’s security.

When the Post pressed for an explicit response to Grenell’s comment and the apparent disconnect between Maas’s comment about Auschwitz and his conduct to boost economic support for a regime in Tehran that is the largest state sponsor of lethal antisemitism and Holocaust denial, Maas’s unnamed official did not respond.

An official of France’s Foreign Ministry wrote the Post by email: “The French and Europeans are acting in strict compliance with their international and European commitments and in accordance with their national laws. The commitments made within the framework of the Iran nuclear deal brokered in Vienna were endorsed by the UN Security Council in its resolution 2231 and therefore apply to all member states. The Europeans are continuing to implement their obligations in this regard.

“The work currently being carried out on the Special Purpose Vehicle is aimed at establishing an economic sovereignty tool for the European Union beyond the Iranian case. It is therefore a long-term task that will protect European firms from the effect of unlawful extraterritorial sanctions in the future.

“Regarding your last question, France always condemns in the strongest possible terms any initiative that fosters racism and antisemitism, wherever it may be.”

The Post asked the French government French government is Iran's regime antisemitic.

According to the WSJ article, “The steps by Europe’s most powerful countries are part of their campaign to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after President Trump withdrew the US in May. Their goal is to help European companies continue some business activity with Iran despite sweeping new US sanctions on the country and any company that does business with it.”

The WSJ added that “France or Germany will host the corporation that would handle the payments channel, the diplomats said. If France hosts it, a German official will head the corporation and vice versa. Both countries will help fund the corporation.”
Merkel’s office did not immediately respond to a Post query.

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