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October 26, 2018 1:32 pm

Attacking Upcoming Sanctions on Iran, Turkish FM Demands ‘Exemption’ From Trump Administration

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu. Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse.

Turkey’s foreign minister has attacked the tough new sanctions against the Iranian regime that will be put into place on Nov. 5 — decrying them as a “unilateral” US action and demanding that President Donald Trump’s administration exempt Turkey from participating.

In an interview on Wednesday with Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu asserted that the US was “implementing sanctions on Iran unilaterally and Japan, Asia, the EU countries and Turkey are against it.”

“We have conveyed to the US our necessary demands to get exemption on this issue,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Earlier this week, Trump pledged that “all US sanctions against Iran lifted by the nuclear deal will be back in full force” on Nov. 5. The upcoming round of sanctions is intended to squeeze the oil industry of Iran, which exported $61.5 billion of crude oil in 2017. About 7 percent of Iran’s crude export is purchased by Turkey.

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Çavuşoğlu questioned the legality of the new sanctions on Iran. “You [the US] can take a decision, but why do you want to punish other companies and countries?” he asked. “It is not a decision of the UN Security Council.”

The foreign minister condemned  once again the decision of the US last May to withdraw from the JCPOA — the technical name for the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and the US, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany — emphasizing that the European countries had rejected the US approach.

“It means that they value this deal,” Çavuşoğlu declared.

Turkey’s objections come as the EU has been exploring ways to shield European companies from the sanctions. After meeting with Iranian officials at the UN in September, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, announced the creation of a “special purpose vehicle” that, she noted “will mean that EU member states will set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran.”

US officials are said to be wrestling with the financial transactions issue themselves, with some media reports this week suggesting that Trump administration officials have softened their demand that SWIFT, the global financial messaging service, be closed entirely to financial dealings with Iran.

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