Part 3: World Reacts to U.S. Sanctions

November 5, 2018

E.U. flagTop representatives from the European Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom said they regretted the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran. In a joint statement, foreign ministers and finance ministers pledged to protect European companies doing legitimate business with the Islamic Republic. They reiterated their support for the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the United States withdrew from in May 2018. “The JCPOA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and of multilateral diplomacy, endorsed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council through Resolution 2231. It is crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world,” they wrote on November 2. Three days later, the United States reimposed scores of sanctions that were lifted or waived under the JCPOA. They targeted Iran’s oil exports, shipping sectors, financial institutions, and other key economic actors. 

The two other parties to the JCPOA, China and Russia, also criticized the United States for taking unilateral action. “China is always opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. The normal cooperation between China and Iran within the framework of international law is legal and legitimate, and such rights should be respected and safeguarded,” said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying on November 5. The following are international reactions to the latest round of U.S. sanctions. 


Joint statement by High Representative Federica Mogherini and Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, Heiko Maas and Jeremy Hunt, and Finance Ministers Bruno Le Maire, Olaf Scholz and Philip Hammond 

We deeply regret the further re-imposition of sanctions by the United States, due to the latter’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA).

The JCPoA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and of multilateral diplomacy, endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council through Resolution 2231. It is crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world.

The JCPoA is working and delivering on its goal. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed in twelve consecutive reports that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Agreement.

We expect Iran to continue implementing all its nuclear commitments in full, as set out by the JCPoA.

The JCPoA also provides for the lifting of international sanctions in order to have a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people. 

It is our aim to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231.

As parties to the JCPoA, we have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas. On these, as on other topics, our work continues, including with Russia and China as participants to the JCPoA and with third countries interested in supporting the JCPoA. These efforts have been intensified in recent weeks, particularly those underpinning the European initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle on which we are proceeding with work to set up. This will enable continued sanctions lifting to reach Iran and allow for European exporters and importers to pursue legitimate trade.

Further work must be done to assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business under EU law. Our Finance Ministers will further pursue this at their next meeting. Our collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering. 

We remain committed to implementing the JCPoA as a matter of respecting international agreements and of our shared international security, and expect Iran to play a constructive role in this regard.

—Nov. 2, 2018, in a joint statement

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying

"China is always opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. The normal cooperation between China and Iran within the framework of international law is legal and legitimate, and such rights should be respected and safeguarded. We will continue to maintain and implement the JCPOA and firmly safeguard our own legal and legitimate interests."

—Nov. 5, 2018, during a press conference


Russian Foreign Ministry

The new wave of anti-Iran sanctions announced by Washington is aimed at undermining the consistent efforts taken by the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme to preserve this agreement.

The course pursued by Washington to demolish international legal instruments of nuclear non-proliferation and arms control is cause for deep disappointment and increasing concern. The situation in the area of global security is deteriorating. The United States has now dealt another powerful blow to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, bringing it closer to collapse while hypocritically talking about the need to strengthen it.

We reject any unilateral sanctions bypassing UNSC decisions, especially when they are applied extra-territorially and concern the interests of third countries, as is the case with US restrictions against Iran. If Washington, as it claims, is indeed interested in negotiations with Tehran, the policy of sanctions pressure aimed at diminishing Iran’s economic and defence potential as well as undermining the internal political situation there must be revised immediately. Many years of experience show that it will be impossible to reach concessions with Iran by using pressure.

The JCPOA fully justifies itself. It has proved to be effective. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) regularly confirms that Iran strictly complies with its obligations. The verification and control measures provided for in the Action Plan are applied in full. This in itself is reliable proof of the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme.

The international community must not allow such a significant achievement of international diplomacy to collapse at the whim of just one nation, which openly violates the norms of international law. We are confident that the JCPOA, unanimously approved by the UNSC Resolution 2231 (2015), has a sufficient margin of strength. The agreement’s participants are absolutely capable of overcoming any emerging issues.

We will do everything necessary to preserve and expand international trade and economic and financial cooperation with Iran despite the US sanctions.

—Nov. 3, 2018, in a statement


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

“We don’t find the (Iran) sanctions appropriate because to us, they are aimed at upsetting the global balance.”

“They are against international law and diplomacy. We don’t want to live in an imperial world.”

“We cannot abide by them, we cannot accept them.”

—Nov. 6, 2018, according to state media


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

“While we were asking (for) an exemption from the United States, we have also been very frank with them that cornering Iran is not wise. Isolating Iran is dangerous and punishing the Iranian people is not fair.”

“Turkey is against sanctions, we don’t believe any results can be achieved through the sanctions.”

“I think instead of sanctions, meaningful dialogue and engagement is much more useful.”

—Nov. 6, 2018, at a press conference in Japan


South Korean Presidential Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom

"The U.S. sanctions on Iran took effect last night and our country was included among the eight countries that were exempted."

"I think this is a case that shows the firmness of the Korea-U.S. alliance."

—Nov. 6, 2018, to the press

U.A.E. Ambassador to the United States Yousef al Otaiba

The UAE strongly supports the US approach to addressing global concerns about Iran’s behavior. The UAE will continue to work closely with the US, regional allies, and other responsible nations to apply all the tools of diplomacy and statecraft to hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond. Iran must stop its proliferation of ballistic missiles, end its support of violent proxies, cease plotting terrorist bombings, and discontinue its incitement of sectarian and ethnic division.  Instead, Iran must respect the sovereignty of all states and should act to normalize relations with its neighbors who are eager to welcome it as a positive contributor to peace and prosperity in the region.

—Nov. 4, 2018, in a statement


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

"This day is a historic day. This is the day on which the United States, led by President Trump, imposed the most severe sanctions on Iran, the most severe sanctions imposed on Iran since the beginning of the effort to stop its aggression. We see the impact of these sanctions on the ground right now. And the second wave of sanctions, especially the sanctions imposed on the SWIFT, the banking clearing system used by the Iranian regime, will add a very severe blow to Iran's terrorist regime.

"I believed that sanctions must include this element of credit clearance. I raised this several times, even during my last meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and I am pleased that the US has decided to include this component, the credit component.

"Iran is the greatest threat to Israel, the Middle East and to world peace. You know that for many years I have devoted my time and energy to the war against the Iranian threat. In this matter I went almost against the whole world. Today we see the results of this long and continuous struggle.

"I would like to thank President Donald Trump again for a courageous, determined and important decision. I think that this contributes to stability, security and peace. True, there can be more bumps along the way, but we must approach this very aggressively and from strength. Also morally, economically and vis-à-vis security.

"This is a great day for the State of Israel. This is a great day for the people of Israel. This is a great day for the future of Israel."

—Nov. 5, 2018 in a statement at Parliament


Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman


State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar

“We are an international bank. We are based in USA. And for a bank which is present in USA we will act strictly in accordance with the sanctions... We will comply with the sanctions.”

—Nov 5, 2018, in a press conference