Will the SPV to Save Iran Nuclear Deal Work?
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
By Amir Taghati
Last Wednesday, Iranian media reported that France and Germany are working to circumvent US sanctions on Iran through use of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will allow trade between Europe and Iran without money changing hands.
Now, this idea has been prominent for the past few months, but not much has happened. After all, no one can really agree on how it will work, where it will be based, or even if it will actually evade US sanctions.
Still, according to Iranian media, European officials believe that the SPV will be operational in January next year, but this, which can only be perceived as good news for the mullahs, has sparked new arguments between the main two warring factions in the Regime.
Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, who was one of the top officials in the nuclear negotiations team that forged the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015, said Europe is committed to compensating Iran for the losses incurred when Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May and that the SPV is in its finalizing phase.
His thankful rhetoric was echoed by Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, who advised that Europe’s new ideas for trading with Iran are coming soon. He previously begged Europe for help to save the nuclear deal before it could die, stating that “time is running out” and Iranian patience was wearing thin.
But those close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s faction are not so pleased and are, in fact, predicting that the SPV is dead in the water.
Iranian pundit Rahman Araqchi wrote on Nameh News that the dream of keeping the nuclear deal alive was all but over; summarising the SPV as an oil for food programme with many details still unknown.
While Vatan-e Emrouz newspaper called Araqchi out for his many contradictions, writing that his deadlines for Europe to come up with a plan have only extended over time. They noted that the Rouhani faction has several times given Europe deadlines that fly by without any action.
Vatan-e Emrouz wrote: “It’s not clear whether these new ideas are any different from the SPV which the Europeans didn’t even show to us and were not ready to host it in their countries. But one thing is very clear: with Zarif and Araqchi at the wheel, not only the sick economy won’t cure, but all of us will fall to the disease.”
Even some in Rouhani’s faction are doubtful that the SPV will work with Arman newspaper calling it “limited” in capacity and advising very little economic benefit to Iran and economist Abbas Hashi echoing the oil for food theory of the SPV.
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “One thing is clear: If a deal finally happens between Rouhani’s government and the EU, it will be a last option measure by the Iranian regime since it doesn’t see any other options available.”