European governments continue to work on mechanisms for getting around the Trump administration’s unjustified reimposition of sanctions on Iran:
That problem has led the Europeans to consider using their own central banks to transfer the money. Under that scheme, a central bank would collect hundreds or even thousands of planned transactions and “bundle” them together, sending the funds to Iran in one lump sum that would then be re-distributed to the intended recipients in Iran.
European central banks that send money to Iran would still be violating the same sanctions as commercial banks, and could be punished. But the countries are betting that Trump won’t, given the dramatic economic implications of the U.S. slapping sanctions on the central bank of an ally.
The Europeans are betting that Trump won’t do something irrational and self-destructive, but then if Trump were in the habit of making sound and rational decisions the U.S. would still be in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) along with them. Sanctioning the central banks of major allies in order to pursue a grudge against Iran would be disastrous for the U.S. and its allies, but Trump is surrounded by hard-liners that keep telling him to do things like this anyway. This sorry state of affairs would not exist were it not for the president’s Iran obsession and his determination to trash one of the most significant diplomatic agreements in recent U.S. history. The U.S. is isolated and in the wrong, and the administration’s attempts to coerce allies into cooperating with the collective punishment of the Iranian people are already backfiring.
The amount of time and effort that U.S. allies are being forced to waste because of the mindless decision to renege on the nuclear deal is extraordinary. It is a reminder that our government’s violation of the agreement has significant and growing costs for all involved. This is what a foreign policy completely divorced from the interests of both the United States and our genuine allies looks like.