France, Germany, and the United Kingdom on Saturday welcomed six new European countries to the INSTEX barter mechanism, which is designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding use of the dollar.
The Paris-based INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange, though the system has not yet enabled any transactions.
“As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom warmly welcome the decision taken by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders,” the three said in a joint statement.
President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the international agreement governing Iran’s nuclear program and reinstated heavy sanctions against Tehran.
The accession of the six new members “further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran”, France, Germany, and Britain said.
It represents “a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – the trio added.
They insisted Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the deal “without delay.”
“We remain fully committed to pursuing our efforts towards a diplomatic resolution within the framework of the JCPoA.”
The 2015 deal set out the terms under which Iran would restrict its nuclear program to civilian use in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions.
Since the U.S. pullout, Iran has taken four steps back from the accord while demanding Europe do more to provide sanctions relief.
These measures include enriching uranium at levels slightly higher than the caps Iran had agreed to as part of the nuclear agreement.
The increased enrichment levels, however, are still far below what would be necessary to build a nuclear weapon and there is no indication the Islamic Republic is pursuing a weapons program at this time.