- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dutch airline KLM and cargo shipping leader CMA CGM have joined the growing list of major multinational companies ending their business with Iran because of reimposed U.S. sanctions.

Since early May — when President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran — shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk of Denmark, French carmaker PSA Group and French oil major Total have also suspended multibillion-dollar projects.

CMA CGM — the world’s third largest container shipping fleet, according to the United Nations — announced on Saturday it would stop its work in Iran for fear that new sanctions could disrupt its U.S. business.

“Due to the Trump administration, we have decided to end our service for Iran,” CMA CGM chief Rodolphe Saade said during an economic conference in southern France.

Meanwhile, KLM, which resumed service to Iran after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, said all flights to Tehran will soon be suspended. It also cited pressure from the hardening U.S. stance.

“As a result of the negative results and financial outlook for the Tehran operation,” the firm said in a statement on Saturday, “the last flight will take off from Amsterdam on 22 September 2018 and land at Schiphol [Amsterdam airport] on 23 September.”

On Saturday, Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne addressed the issue.

“If we continued to work in Iran, Total would not be able to access the U.S. financial world,” he told RTL radio. “Our duty is to protect the company. So we have to leave Iran.”

Last week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Europe in a bid to preserve the nuclear deal, which suspended Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The five remaining signatory nations — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – all say they want it to continue, but some appear unable to stop their companies from pulling out of Iran.

On Friday, foreign ministers from the five countries offered Tehran a package of economic measures designed to compensate for the bite that the reimposed Trump sanctions have begun to have. Before the package was unveiled, Mr. Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron during a phone call that it fell short of Tehran’s demands.

On Saturday, according to the state news agency IRNA, he reiterated that the bail-out effort did not go far enough.

“European countries have the political will to maintain economic ties with Iran based on the JCPOA [the nuclear deal], but they need to take practical measures,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.


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