France reportedly offers Iran $15bn Instex credit line for sanctions-protected trade

By bne IntelliNews August 7, 2019

France has reportedly proposed providing Iran with a $15bn credit line that would oil the wheels of the EU’s Instex (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) channel for Iranian and European companies looking to trade with each other without incurring US sanctions.

The offer was reported by Al-Monitor on August 7.

“According to three sources, in his conversation with [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani, [French President Emmanuel Macron] brought up the issue of establishing a $15 billion credit line for Tehran as a way around US sanctions, in an effort to meet Iran’s demands,” the report said.  

Iran was yet to respond to the proposal, it added.

Instex, to Iran’s frustration, has been slow in going operational and is so far thought to have only performed some initial processing of transactions that would, anyway, not trigger US sanctions as they involve goods not on Washington’s sanctions list.

Iran wants its oil to be used in barter arrangements conducted via Instex, but Europe has been non-committal on that request to date.

In the meantime, Iran has been moving towards the exit door of the nuclear deal—the accord that is supposed to protect the Iranians from heavy sanctions in return for curbs that keep their nuclear programme purely civilian. It has of course failed to do that as the US unilaterally pulled out of the deal in May 2018. Subsequently, the Americans introduced the most punishing sanctions Iran has ever faced in a bid to secure a far tougher nuclear deal that would substantially alter Iran’s role in the Middle East. Europe’s major powers, says Iran, have done next to nothing to protect its economy and trade from the US sanctions. Tehran has given the UK, France and Germany—which, along with Iran, Russia and China, are the remaining signatories of the nuclear deal—one more month to come up with some substantial economic help. If they do not, Iran’s breaches of the nuclear accord could become terminal for prospects of retaining the pact.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already said he is giving up on the Europeans following what he saw as their feeble attempts at helping Iran resist the Trump administration's sanctions.

Russia recently signalled it too was interested in joining the Instex payment system as trade between Tehran and Moscow continues to grow. But Moscow agrees with Iran that oil should feature in Instex transactions.

If such a move with Iranian oil was made, the US would almost certainly attempt to attack Instex as the number one aim of Washington’s attempt to throttle the Iranian economy to secure concessions on Iran’s nuclear programme and Middle East policy is to drive all Iranian oil exports off world markets.

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