US rips international effort to evade Iran sanctions

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stern rebuke Tuesday to the countries remaining in the Iran nuclear agreement after they announced a financial system to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran.

"This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional and global peace and security," Pompeo told a group that advocates against the Iran deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May, defying pleas from close U.S. allies. Washington began re-imposing sanctions in August, with a more sweeping wave targeting oil exports set to go into effect Nov. 4.

The six parties remaining in the agreement — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran — announced late Monday the creation of a "Special Purpose Vehicle" which is intended to facilitate financial transactions with Iran allowed under the nuclear pact.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the system, which will be set up by EU member states, will allow "European companies to continue trade with Iran" and said the system "could be open to other partners in the world".

But Pompeo said that doing so would allow the Iranian government to solidify its "ranking as the number one state sponsor of terror".

"I imagine the corrupt ayatollahs and the IRGC were laughing this morning," Pompeo said, referring to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

As Pompeo was addressing the crowd in New York, the State Department issued a 48-page document chronicling Iran's history of "destructive behavior" dating back to 1980 and harping on its ballistic missile program and "illicit financial activities."

Pompeo's comments and the lengthy report come as Trump prepares to chair a Security Council session Wednesday that is expected to focus heavily on Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is allowed to attend the session under council rules, but it is unclear if he will do so.

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