US “Pressuring” European Firms to Limit Activity in Iran

The general secretary of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce said US officials are pressuring European companies to limit their business activities in Iran.

“There is more passion from our American friends to create problems,” Michael Tockuss told the German business news weekly Wirtschaftswoche on Saturday.

Those problems, Tockuss said, stem from direct pressure being applied by US officials on European firms, as well as the ripple effects as word spreads of the lengths to which American authorities will go to force companies to rethink their plans.

“It’s intimidation,” he said. “They live on the fear.”

Tockuss, whose organization represents German firms that do a significant share of their business in Iran, said he knew of at least 20 members that had been personally visited by US officials and urged to slow their operations in Iran.

Some companies, he said, were offered a friendly pitch about their importance to the US-German trade relationship. Others were threatened with economic consequences if they failed to comply.

He described the contacts as inappropriate.

“I don’t consider it the job of any diplomat to threaten a company,” he said. “They should not be treating companies in their host country this way.”

On Thursday, Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement on the creation of a new trading system called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) that will allow trade between the EU and Iran without relying on direct financial transactions.

The EU announcement marks the most concrete action Europe has taken to thwart Washington sanctions after the US pullout of the 2015 nuclear deal last May.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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