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Iran says European barter system 'good omen' but insufficient

Abbas Mousavi said the transaction had involved "a few hundred thousand euros' [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2020

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Britain, France and Germany last week carried out the first transaction through the Instex mechanism to deliver medical supplies to Iran, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Iran on Monday welcomed the launch of a European barter system to bypass US sanctions as a "good omen" but said it was insufficient in light of the Europeans' commitments.

Britain, France and Germany said last week they had carried out the first transaction through the Instex mechanism to deliver medical supplies to Iran, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first official reaction to the development, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the transaction had involved "a few hundred thousand euros (dollars)".

"We see the launch of Instex as a good omen," Mousavi said in a televised news conference.

But "what the Islamic Republic of Iran expects (from now on) is for the Europeans to fulfil the rest of their commitments in various fields (such as) banking, energy, insurance," he added.

Iran has struggled to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus which officials say has claimed over 3,600 lives and infected more than 58,000 in the country since February 19.

Read also: Thousands of Afghans flee 'coronavirus epicentre' Iran, prompting fears of catastrophic outbreak

Calls have mounted for the United States to ease its sanctions on Iran so that the Islamic republic can adequately respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

Washington reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran in May 2018 after withdrawing from an international deal that put curbs on its arch enemy's nuclear programme.

In response, the three European countries party to the nuclear deal - Britain, France and Germany - announced the creation of Instex in January 2019.

But the implementation of the mechanism has been slow, with Iran and the Europeans blaming each other for the delay.

Instex functions as a clearing house and allows European companies to trade with Iran without exposing themselves to the consequences of US sanctions.

It is designed to be open to other companies, particularly from China or Russia, which are also party to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

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