US rejects French request for Iran exemptions as reinsurer pulls out - Kogonuso

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Jul 13, 2018

US rejects French request for Iran exemptions as reinsurer pulls out


PARIS: The US has rejected a French request for waivers for its companies operating in Iran that Paris sought after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the country, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro.

Paris had singled out key areas where it expected either exemptions or extended wind-down periods for French companies, including energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and automotive.
Officials had expressed little hope for securing the waivers, which were critical for oil and gas major Total to continue a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran and for carmaker PSA Group to pursue its joint venture.
French reinsurer Scor SE said on Friday it will not seek new contracts or renew existing business in Iran, given the US sanctions.
Most international insurers in Iran are working with the shipping and energy industries in the country.
“We have just received Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s response: It’s negative,” Le Maire told Le Figaro in an interview published on Friday.
Le Maire said Europe needed to react quickly and protect its economic sovereignty.
“Europe must provide itself with the tools it needs to defend itself against extra-territorial sanctions,” Le Maire added.
Washington announced in May it was imposing new economic penalties on Tehran after pulling out of a multilateral 2015 agreement, under which Tehran had agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
Trump’s sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a new agreement to halt its nuclear programs that might include Tehran’s regional activities and ballistics development. In particular, Washington wants to curtail the oil exports that are key to Iran’s economic revival.

Strategic objective
Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from its neighbors if Washington pressed ahead with trying to force countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
As fighting in Syria wanes after seven years of war, the US has made curtailing Iran’s influence in post-war Syria a strategic objective.
When Trump meets Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Syrian conflict will be one of the most immediately pressing issues on a wide-ranging and colorful agenda.
A full withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria is a virtual non-starter.
After years of ruinous civil war, Iran and its proxy militias, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, have built up a formidable presence stretching from the Iraqi border through central Syria to Lebanon.
President Bashar Assad, with crucial military and political assistance from Iran and Russia, has recaptured around 60 percent of the country, including its main cities, putting an end to any serious talk of regime change in Damascus. And, amid a consistently declining US role, Russia has emerged as an uncontested power broker in the country.
Still, both Russia and the US have an interest in working together in Syria and beyond, and while Russia and Iran have been on the same side of the war, their interests do not always converge.
Russia also has maintained warm ties with Israel and has demonstrated a readiness to take the Jewish state’s security interests into account.
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