July 16 (UPI) — The United States rejected appeals from the European Union to give exemptions to EU countries that would be affected by sanctions on Iran.
In a letter to EU officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US government wants to maximize pressure against Iran as sanctions begin to be imposed next month.
“We will seek to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime,” the letter stated, according to NBC News.
The letter added that the United States is “not in a position to make exceptions to this policy except in very specific circumstances where it clearly benefits our national security” but would make exceptions for humanitarian purposes.
Ministers from Germany, France, Britain and the EU governing body had requested exemptions for businesses in finance, energy and healthcare.
The EU is Iran’s second-largest trading partner with nearly $13 billion in exports sold to Iran last year.
One EU diplomat told the Financial Times said the sanctions and the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran deal was detrimental to controlling Iran’s nuclear program.
“We do not think it’s helpful in relation to the situation in Iran,” the diplomat said. “There are also extraterritorial risks in these sanctions for EU operators.”