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TIP Senior Fellow: Germany and EU Throwing Iran a “Lifeline” by Undercutting Sanctions

The German government is under fire for efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “every day that the Iran [nuclear] agreement lasts,” is making the world safer, Benjamin Weinthal, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reported for FoxNews.com on Wednesday.

Maas wrote in German business daily Handelsblatt that Germany “will not allow [the U.S.] to go over our heads, and at our expense.” The minister claimed, “It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels independent of the US, a European monetary fund and an independent SWIFT [payments] system.”

According to Maas, “The devil is in thousands of details. But every day that the Iran [nuclear] agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.”

His comments drew sharp criticism from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of U.S. human rights organization of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “Circumventing sanctions on an Iranian regime that is committed in word and deed to destroy Israel for financial gain for German companies makes a mockery of that [Berlin’s] commitment” to implement the lessons of the Holocaust, he said. Cooper added that “economic greed should not subvert the safety of German Jewry.”

Julie Lenarz, a Senior Fellow at The Israel Project, told FoxNews.com: “All governments should make trade ties with Iran contingent upon the Islamic Republic‘s end to its global sponsorship of terror, illicit nuclear ambitions and suppression of basic rights at home.”

She said the Iran deal “was a disaster — a patient pathway to the bomb — and the Trump administration did the only responsible thing re-imposing sanctions, thereby putting pressure on the regime and forcing them back to the negotiation table on our terms.”

Lenarz added: “Europe, and Germany in particular, are throwing the mullah regime — confronted with an economy in free fall, a collapsing currency and rising popular dissent — a much needed lifeline by boycotting the sanctions. It makes them directly complicit in the crimes committed by Iran.”

If Iran wants the economic benefits of being a member of the international community, it should behave accordingly, or Germany should immediately end its immoral trade with Iran and support the long-suffering Iranian people in ending the clerical dictatorship.”

The U.S. wants Iran cut off from SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — to put pressure on the regime in Iran. Disconnection the Islamic Republic from the Brussels-based SWIFT, which facilitates cross-country payments, would deal a powerful blow to Iran’s collapsing economy.

Dr. Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of German Jews, said last week: “Any trade with Iran means a benefit for radical and terrorist forces and a hazard and destabilization for the region.”

He added: “It seems paradoxical that Germany — as a country that is said to have learned from its horrendous past and which has a strong commitment to fight anti-Semitism — is one of the strongest economic partners of a regime that is blatantly denying the Holocaust and abusing human rights on a daily basis.

“Besides, Germany has included Israel’s security as a part of its ‘raison d’etre.’”

As the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, several major European companies, fearing U.S. sanctions on them from engaging with Iran, have wound down business in Iran. For example, French energy giant Total announced in May it would withdraw from a major Iranian gas deal before the end of the year unless it gets a waiver.

Approximately 120 German companies are currently running operations with their own staff in Iran and some 10,000 German businesses trade with the Islamic Republic. German exports to Iran were worth some €3 billion ($3.57 billion) in 2017.

[Photo: Tasnim News ]