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EU Delays Payment System For Iran Amid U.S. Warnings

BELGIUM - (L-R) U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, EU Commission Member Miguel Arias Canete and EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, attend a US. /EU Energy Council meeting. File photo

The EU has reportedly delayed registering an alternative financial channel to help Iran, say reports coming from Brussels on Monday January 28.

Reports from Brussels Monday morning said that the release of the conclusion on Iran has been "postponed" due to differences over one of its ten articles.

An EU diplomat told Radio Farda that the delay is caused by Spain's opposition to an article referring to Europe's talks with Iran about its presence in Yemen, as Spain was not represented in the meetings, while Germany, France, UK and Italy were represented in the meetings with Iran about Yemen.

The United States also appears to be adamant to "fully enforce its sanctions" against Tehran and "hold individuals and entities accountable for undermining them," The Associated Press quoted a "senior administration official" on Friday as saying, as Europe was planning to launch an alternative payment channel for Iran to circumvent the sanctions.

That was when other reports originating from the EU in Brussels, including a Radio Farda exclusive report, broke the news about the imminent launch of a Special Purpose Vehicle to facilitate Iran's international trade in spite of the U.S. sanctions.

According to AP, the Trump administration is closely watching " efforts in Europe to set up an alternative money payment channel to ease doing business with Iran and avoid running afoul of sanctions the U.S. has levied on the Islamic republic."

In another warning, AP quoted Senator Tom Cotton as having said that "The choice is whether to do business with Iran or the United States," adding that "I hope our European allies choose wisely." This was yet another indication that "The White House is putting the Europeans on notice, saying that if they try to do an end-run around U.S. sanctions on Iran, they will be subject to stiff fines and penalties," AP observed.

This comes while Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for EU Foreign Policy Chief, told reporters on Friday that preparations for the SVP were at an "advanced stage," and that she hoped to announce the systems launch "very soon."

Radio Farda was told on Friday by an informed EU source that the SVP would be registered on Monday January 28, when an EC "Conclusion" would simultaneously express concern about Iran's regional military ambitions, ballistic missile program, hostile acts in EU, and violation of human rights in Iran.

Within EU frameworks, a "conclusion" includes a series of political positions about a certain matter as approved during talks at the European Council.

EU members are to discuss the conclusion about Iran in another meeting later this week.

Meanwhile, Bahram Ghasemi, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Tehran that Tehran can wait until the EU officially announces the launch of the SVP.

Ghasemi said he was aware of the news that said the launch was to be announced on Monday, adding, "We have heard many promises during recent weeks, but we will wait for the official announcement."

An adviser to the Trump administration said U.S. is concerned that the alternative financial system could become so successful in the future that it can compete with the international financial communication system SWIFT and eventually supplant it as the leading global institution facilitating sending and receiving information about banking transactions.

According to AP, the U.S. is also concerned that other countries might try to route transactions through the European system just to circumvent U.S. sanctions, the adviser said. Thirdly, while the Europeans have signaled that the alternative money transfer system would be used only for humanitarian transactions, the U.S. is suspicious that it could be used for non-humanitarian transactions to evade U.S. sanctions, the adviser said.

The United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and EU promised to protect Iran's continued economic benefits from the nuclear agreement and help with its international financial transactions through an alternative payment system which has not materialized yet.