September 27, 2018

What’s a Special Purpose Vehicle, and Can Europe Save Iran With It?

Featuring ​Neil Bhatiya

Source: Al Bawaba

Journalist Eleanor Beevor

It’s been nearly five months since American President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCOPA, led by the Obama administration and supported by all major powers on the UN Security Council, (Europe, Russia and China) gave Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions, in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities. But Trump pulled America out of it in May, calling it the “worst deal ever”.

But he is not only rescinding American participation in the JCPOA. He’s trying to cripple Iran economically any way he can, even if it means attacking traditional American allies with sanctions too. Washington has deployed extraterritorial or “secondary” sanctions, which would hit any company that deals in Iran.

This has forced major international corporations to choose between accessing the Iranian or the American market. And unsurprisingly, no major firm has yet opted for the former. Total, Maersk and Peugeot are just a few of the international giants that have left the country for fear of Trump’s wrath.

Still, there has been pushback. The European Union, Russia, China and other nations who have been angered by Trump’s relentless use of sanctions are now talking openly about a revolt against the dollar.

Most international transactions are made in dollars, given its powerful status as the world’s reserve currency. The dollar’s stability once made it an attractive dominator of the global financial system - a company receiving a payment wants to be sure that money will not lose its value overnight.

However, any transaction that is made in dollars, or that passes through American banks is subject to American sanctions. That was acceptable back when major powers weren’t having their foreign policies outright threatened. But now that Trump is demanding that the rest of the world follow his lead or suffer the consequences, there is a growing scramble to create systems that can evade the dollar’s power.

Read the full article and more at Al Bawaba.

  • ​Neil Bhatiya

    Research Associate, Energy, Economics, and Security Program

    Neil Bhatiya is the Research Associate for the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. His work focuses on the geopolitics of energy...