The United States has no right to tell European companies who they can trade and develop economic relations with, according to the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
“We cannot accept that the US decided the regions with which European companies can or cannot do business,” Michel said in an interview with Belgian French-language broadcaster RTBF shortly after meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York.
The Belgian PM was the first among Western leaders to hold a bilateral meeting with the Iranian President on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Belgium will get a two-year non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as soon as next year.
Michel stressed that Belgium and the EU are not naive when it comes to the issue of Iran and regional significance of the Islamic Republic.
The comments come amid Washington’s hard stance against Tehran. In May, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, signed between Iran and a broad alliance of world powers. Under the historic agreement, decades-long anti-Iranian sanctions were lifted, opening up the country’s market for Western corporations.
In August, the White House reimposed unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, putting restrictions on the country’s car industry, carpets, metals trading and banning access to US banknotes.
Further penalties, scheduled for November, will reportedly hit Iran’s oil and shipping sectors. Washington threatened secondary sanctions on any nations or corporations that conduct transactions with Iran.
So far, the threat of US penalties has forced out a wide range of European firms, including Daimler, Peugeot, Renault, Siemens and Total, from ventures in the Islamic Republic.
Earlier, the EU’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that the bloc’s signatories – Britain, Germany and France – remain committed to the nuclear deal and that the EU is working on a payment system to allow trade and business with Iran to continue.