European Nations Join Iran Barter System
Opposed By U.S.
December 2, 2019
France, Britain, and Germany say that six
new European nations have joined INSTEX, the
bartering system they developed to allow
firms to conduct business with Iran without
violating U.S. sanctions.
In a joint statement on November 30, the
three said they “warmly welcome the decision
taken by the governments of Belgium,
Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway,
and Sweden to join INSTEX as shareholders.”
The United States has vehemently opposed the
plan, with Vice President Mike Pence saying
earlier this year that "the time has come
for our European partners to stop
undermining U.S. sanctions against this
murderous revolutionary regime."
The Paris-based INSTEX -- or Instrument in
Support of Trade Exchanges -- is
special-purpose financial vehicle that
allows Iran to continue to sell oil and in
return import other products and services,
using a barter system rather than the U.S.
The joint statement said the inclusion of
the new members "further strengthens INSTEX
and demonstrates European efforts to
facilitate legitimate trade between Europe
The plan focuses on areas not targeted by
U.S. sanctions and will initially deal with
“the sectors most essential to the Iranian
population -- such as pharmaceutical,
medical devices and agrifood goods,” foreign
ministers from the three countries said in
January when announcing the plan.
As of yet, no transactions have been enabled
through the system.
The statement said the plan represents "a
clear expression of our continuing
commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan
of Action" (JCPOA) -- the formal name of the
2015 nuclear Iran signed with six world
three European allies -- who signed the
nuclear deal along with the United States,
Russia, and China -- have been working hard
to keep the accord alive after U.S.
President Donald Trump announced in May 2018
that he would withdraw from the deal and
reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
After the U.S. pullout, Tehran demanded that
the European signees mitigate the damages
inflicted on Iran’s economy by the renewed
U.S. sanctions and it began exceeding some
uranium enrichment limits set out under the
In their statement, the European allies said
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
European allies said.