Sensing EU Weakness, Iran Squeezing Out More Concessions
After President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement, the European Union sought to keep the deal in tact despite the gap left by Washington’s departure. Meetings between the EU and Islamic Republic were set and negotiations began. But what has emerged so far from the talks is what many observers see as an Iranian attempt to use EU desperation as leverage to significantly up the ante. Specifically, the Iranians are demanding that the Europeans pay for Iranian oil directly to Tehran’s central bank, bypassing American financial institutions. It’s a sound strategy for Iran because the most effective weapon the US has for preventing other nations from cutting side deals with the Ayatollah is the ability to shut non-compliers out of American banks. And getting the EU to agree would arguably be a clear victory over the Trump administration. For Iran, it would also prevent the deal from being ratified but failing nevertheless because the financial institutions drop-off for fear of US reprisals. Loss of those institutions would make it near-impossible for Iran to attract the $100 billion it needs for its oil industry. Critics of the agreement insist the Iranians took payments from the Obama administration in the billions of dollars and channeled it to the support for its terror-proxies rather than for the good of the Iranian people.