German auto giant Daimler announced that it will halt all business activities in Iran hours after US President Donald J. Trump’s warning that any European company that chose to operate in Iran would be barred from having access to American markets.
“We have suspended our limited activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable (US) sanctions,” a Daimler spokesperson confirmed on August 7, putting a rapid end to Iran’s expansion plan of the German company.
According to plan, Daimler would have joined with local Iranian firms to assemble Mercedes-Benz trucks, which are some of the most widely-used hauling vehicles in the Islamic Republic.
“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the US. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!,” Trump said in a Twitter post, adding that “Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level.”
The US imposed new restrictions on Tehran in an effort to stop the purchase of dollar banknotes by Iranian-based businesses and has barred the government from trading gold and other precious metals on the international market and has also blocked the country from selling or acquiring various industrial metals.
The measures also ban the imports of Iranian carpets and pistachios into the US.
Daimler’s decision to quit Iran flies in the face of European efforts to counter Trump’s abrupt decision to abandon a landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 by his predecessor Barack Obama. The European Commission condemned the move and announced it would be rolling out an updated version of its so-called Blocking Statute which bans any EU company from complying with US sanctions and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce penalties dictated by Washington.
“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” the Commission said in a statement on August 6.
On Monday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called on the EU and other countries to take actions that would help save the Iran nuclear agreement but acknowledged the limits of the accord itself.
“In my visits to Europe, as well as China and Russia, and in the talks I’ve had, I have seen that they’ve all promised that they will not pay attention to the sanctions,” Rouhani said. “But the problem is their companies, which are under pressure from the US and are affected by the US’ new sanctions,” Rouhani said.
Trump has called the Iran deal “one-sided”, “disastrous”, and the “worst I’ve ever seen”. He has since said the new round of sanctions have been put forward as a way to apply economic pressure on Tehran and to force Iran to agree to a new deal. The move has been widely condemned by the international community, with only Israel’s hawkish right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming out in staunch support of Trump’s actions.