Photo
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Sunday with the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir. Credit Pool photo by Alex Brandon

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned Europeans on Sunday not to invest in certain Iranian businesses as the Trump administration considers walking away from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions against Iran.

Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tillerson said, “Both of our countries believe that those who conduct business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, any of their entities – European companies or other companies around the globe – really do so at great risk.” Mr. Tillerson appeared at a brief news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, with the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps maintains monopoly control over large sectors of Iran’s economy.

Mr. Tillerson’s remarks were the administration’s most pointed warning to date as the Trump administration tries to persuade its European allies to support an effort to reopen the nuclear accord to make it tougher.

European leaders and diplomats from Germany, Britain, France and the European Union have repeatedly insisted that the nuclear deal is working, that Iran is complying with the accord and that no renegotiation is possible. Russia and China, which also signed the agreement, have evinced no interest in a renegotiation. And Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has warned that Iran would insist on new concessions such as a return of its nuclear fuel in any new agreement.

Continue reading the main story

The quiet struggle between the Trump administration and its most important European allies has been the focus of much of the jockeying after President Trump decided earlier this month not to certify that Iran was complying with all the terms of the agreement. That kicked to Congress the decision about whether to reimpose sanctions and blow up the accord.

Allies of the administration have argued that should Congress decide to reimpose sanctions on Iran, Europeans companies would have little choice but to comply since they would not want to risk being shut out of the $19 trillion American market in favor of Iran’s $400 billion one.

European diplomats have said they would defend their companies against such sanctions, potentially setting up an epic battle between close allies and two of the largest commercial markets on the planet.

Mr. Tillerson’s warning, which came as he stood beside the top diplomat of Saudi Arabia — a fierce foe of Iran — raised the rhetorical stakes in the looming battle.

“And we are hoping,” the secretary of state said, “that European companies, countries, and others around the world will join the U.S. as we put in place a sanctions structure to prohibit certain activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region, both in terms of their involvement in Yemen but their involvement in Syria as well.”

Mr. Tillerson was in Saudi Arabia in part to encourage a nascent reconciliation between the Saudis and Iraqis as the military struggle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria nears an end with the recent recapture of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

Over the weekend, Saudi companies participated for the first time in 27 years in an international business fair held in Baghdad. Regular commercial direct flights between Riyadh and Baghdad began this year for the first time in many years.

Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, attended an inaugural Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council Meeting. Presided over by King Salman, the meeting was seen as an important effort to help Iraq as it tries to recover from the catastrophic damage wrought during the war. The United States has long been pushing Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries to embrace Iraq even as Iran’s influence in the country has grown.

Mr. Tillerson said bluntly that Iranian-backed militias and groups that had helped in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, needed to disband, join the Iraqi Army or leave the country. “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

The Americans have warned Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states that unless they invest in Iraq, Iranian influence in the battered country will only grow.

“I think as Iraq looks towards the future,” Mr. Tillerson said, “we know that they want a secure, stable economy. They want the capacity to meet the needs of all their citizens. And in particular, they want to develop the governmental capacities to resist any outside influence.”

Continue reading the main story

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned Europeans on Sunday not to invest in certain Iranian businesses as the Trump administration considers walking away from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions against Iran.

Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tillerson said, “Both of our countries believe that those who conduct business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, any of their entities – European companies or other companies around the globe – really do so at great risk.” Mr. Tillerson appeared at a brief news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, with the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps maintains monopoly control over large sectors of Iran’s economy.

Mr. Tillerson’s remarks were the administration’s most pointed warning to date as the Trump administration tries to persuade its European allies to support an effort to reopen the nuclear accord to make it tougher.

European leaders and diplomats from Germany, Britain, France and the European Union have repeatedly insisted that the nuclear deal is working, that Iran is complying with the accord and that no renegotiation is possible. Russia and China, which also signed the agreement, have evinced no interest in a renegotiation. And Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has warned that Iran would insist on new concessions such as a return of its nuclear fuel in any new agreement.

The quiet struggle between the Trump administration and its most important European allies has been the focus of much of the jockeying after President Trump decided earlier this month not to certify that Iran was complying with all the terms of the agreement. That kicked to Congress the decision about whether to reimpose sanctions and blow up the accord.

Allies of the administration have argued that should Congress decide to reimpose sanctions on Iran, Europeans companies would have little choice but to comply since they would not want to risk being shut out of the $19 trillion American market in favor of Iran’s $400 billion one.

European diplomats have said they would defend their companies against such sanctions, potentially setting up an epic battle between close allies and two of the largest commercial markets on the planet.

Mr. Tillerson’s warning, which came as he stood beside the top diplomat of Saudi Arabia — a fierce foe of Iran — raised the rhetorical stakes in the looming battle.

“And we are hoping,” the secretary of state said, “that European companies, countries, and others around the world will join the U.S. as we put in place a sanctions structure to prohibit certain activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region, both in terms of their involvement in Yemen but their involvement in Syria as well.”

Mr. Tillerson was in Saudi Arabia in part to encourage a nascent reconciliation between the Saudis and Iraqis as the military struggle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria nears an end with the recent recapture of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

Over the weekend, Saudi companies participated for the first time in 27 years in an international business fair held in Baghdad. Regular commercial direct flights between Riyadh and Baghdad began this year for the first time in many years.

Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, attended an inaugural Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council Meeting. Presided over by King Salman, the meeting was seen as an important effort to help Iraq as it tries to recover from the catastrophic damage wrought during the war. The United States has long been pushing Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries to embrace Iraq even as Iran’s influence in the country has grown.

Mr. Tillerson said bluntly that Iranian-backed militias and groups that had helped in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, needed to disband, join the Iraqi Army or leave the country. “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

The Americans have warned Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states that unless they invest in Iraq, Iranian influence in the battered country will only grow.

“I think as Iraq looks towards the future,” Mr. Tillerson said, “we know that they want a secure, stable economy. They want the capacity to meet the needs of all their citizens. And in particular, they want to develop the governmental capacities to resist any outside influence.”

Nytimes

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here