European countries trying to keep Iran's nuclear deal with world powers alive said Tuesday that a system they set up to enable trade with Tehran has finally concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods.
Britain, France and Germany conceived the complex barter-type system dubbed INSTEX, which aims to protect companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions, in January 2019. The move came months after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions.
Since then, officials have struggled to get the system up and running. On Tuesday, however, Germany's foreign ministry said the three European countries "confirm that INSTEX has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran."
"These goods are now in Iran," it said in a statement that gave details neither of the goods nor of who was involved in the transaction. It didn't specify what the intended medical purpose was. Iran has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but supplying medical goods to Iran already was a concern before the outbreak.
"Now the first transaction is complete, INSTEX and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism," the German foreign ministry statement said.
Tehran has gradually been violating the nuclear deal's restrictions to pressure the remaining parties to the agreement - China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain - to provide new incentives to offset the American sanctions, saying that INSTEX has been insufficient.
The nuclear deal aims to prevent Iran from developing a bomb - something the country's leaders insist they do not want to do.