Francois Lenoir | Reuters
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
The European Commission is proposing that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties, an EU official said, in what would be the most forthright challenge to Washington's newly reimposed sanctions.
The step, which would seek to bypass the U.S. financial system, would allow European companies to repay Iran for oil exports and repatriate Iranian funds in Europe, a senior EU official said, although the details were still to be worked out.
The European Union, once Iran's biggest oil importer, is determined to save the nuclear accord, that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned on May 8, by keeping money flowing to Tehran as long as the Islamic Republic complies with the 2015 deal to prevent it from developing an atomic weapon.
"Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed this to member states. We now need to work out how we can facilitate oil payments and repatriate Iranian funds in the European Union to Iran's central bank," said the EU official, who is directly involved in the discussions.
The U.S. Treasury announced on Tuesday more sanctions on officials of the Iranian central bank, including Governor Valiollah Seif. But the EU official said the bloc believes that does not sanction the central bank itself.