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US declines French request for Iran oil exemptions

French economy minister Bruno Le Maire at a press conference in Paris [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 July, 2018

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Washington had previously said it would consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis for businesses operating in Iran.
The US has rejected France's request to allow its companies operating in Iran to obtain waivers after President Donald Trump announced in May sanctions on Iran and countries that continue to do business with it.

Paris had sought exemptions or extended wind-down periods in the energy, banking and other sectors.  

French officials were not optimistic about requests, which were crucial to oil giants like Total. The energy firm was looking to pursue a multi-billion dollar gas joint venture.

“We have just received Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s response: it's negative,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro on Friday. 

Le Maire said Europe needed to act quickly to secure its economic interests.

"Europe must provide itself with the tools it needs to defend itself against extra-territorial sanctions," he said.

Washington announced two months ago it would reimpose sanctions on Tehran and pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

Trump's sanctions are aimed at severely restricting Iran's oil exports, something experts say could be challenging to implement.

Earlier this month, Iran's president Hassan Rouhani warned it could disrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf if Washington sought to freeze the sale of Iranian oil.  

On Thursday, a US Treasury official linked Washington's financial pressure on Tehran with economic protests that are roiling the country. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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