Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Sweden will join the INSTEX mechanism for trade with Iran, the six EU nations declared in a joint statement on Friday November 29.

“As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom, welcome the decision taken by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders,” the three countries said in a joint statement.

The INSTEX barter mechanism was established in January 2019 by the so-called E3 – and countries party to the 2015 nuclear deal, aiming at circumventing U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran by bypassing dollar transactions.

Iran created the counterpart mechanism called Special Trade and Finance Instrument (STFI) in April and urged Europe to commit more to INSTEX, while European officials find that STFI does not satisfy their financial transparency requirements.

US President Donald Trump has been toughening US sanctions against Iran since November 2018 as part of a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Tehran, while few months earlier, he withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. JCPOA required Iran to scale back its nuclear programme and to eliminate its stockpile of its uranium reserves, in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump has warned the EU to leave the status quo untouched, and not to engage in various transactions with Iran or face secondary U.S. sanctions. However, the 28-country bloc stated its commitment to the nuclear deal obligations and to regional stability.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi said on Saturday: “The fact that the European countries are serious about having INSTEX as a business mechanism to keep economic relations with Iran and finding a way in order for Iran to have economic interaction with Europeans despite the United States’ sanctions is very valuable”.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell denounced the timing of the announcement by the six countries, soon after 161 people were killed protests in Iran, according to Amnesty International.

The six new INSTEX shareholders urged Iran to “return without delay to full compliance with the terms and provisions of the nuclear agreement”, ahead of the Commission’s on the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal meeting, next week in Vienna.