September 21, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Grenell: Volkswagen to comply with US sanctions on Iran

The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen will leave the Iranian market to comply with US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“Volkswagen has told us they will comply with US sanctions on Iran. We are pleased with this decision because Iran diverts its economic resources away from its people to support the Assad regime and spread violence and instability across the globe,” said Grenell. The decision was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Volkswagen’s decision to pull the plug on its car business in Iran is another in a series of economic setbacks for the clerical rulers in Tehran. The US embassy in Berlin’s Twitter feed confirmed on Tuesday that the German chemical company BASF has also decided to stop its business with Iran. The embassy wrote “BASF confirmed to Amb. @richardgrenell: They will comply w/ US sanctions. This is the right decision.”

BASF says in its company profile that it is the second largest “producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America.”

Multi-national companies like Volkswagen and BASF have understood that forfeiting the powerhouse US market in exchange for the tiny Iranian market would decimate their financial health. The companies could also face economic sanctions.

Grenell has spearheaded an effort to encourage German companies to avoid enabling Iran to finance its terror operations across the Middle East, and instead invest in the US market. The US State Department classifies Iran’s regime as the leading international state sponsor of terrorism. On September 15, Grenell tweeted, “SMS Group of Germany, a 2.8€ billion partner of the metals industry, tell us they will leave Iran.”

On Wednesday night, the US announced that it seeks to reach a new agreement with Iran to stop its nuclear program and global terrorism. The Trump administration also wants to re-negotiate restrictions on Tehran’s missile program.

In May, the US pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran, claiming it contained too many holes that would allow the Islamic Republic to reach the goal of being able to produce nuclear weapons.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas decided to stay in the Iran deal and, in addition, to support its struggling economy while circumventing a new set of US sanctions on Tehran in November.

The president of Germany’s roughly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews called for the immediate end of Iranian-German business relations, because the trade benefits the Islamic Republic’s terrorism contradicts Berlin’s pledge that Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

In a statement to the Post in August, Dr. Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council, did not mince words: “I endorse an immediate stop of any economic relation with Iran. Any trade with Iran means a benefit for radical and terrorist forces and a hazard and destabilization for the region.”

He said that “The Central Council of Jews in Germany has been criticizing German-Iranian trade relations for a long time. It seems paradoxical that Germany – as a country that is said to have learned from its horrendous past and which has a strong commitment to fight antisemitism – is one of the strongest economic partners of a regime that is blatantly denying the Holocaust and abusing human rights on a daily basis. Besides, Germany has included Israel’s security as a part of its raison d’etre. As a matter of course, this should exclude doing business with a fanatic dictatorship that is calling for Israel’s destruction, pursuing nuclear weapons and financing terror organizations around the world.

Schuster concluded by saying that: “It is high time to ask oneself where the money that Iran is earning by this trade is going. Furthermore, we witness demonstrations in Iran of people that are yearning for freedom and equality. We should stand up for these people who are risking their lives because they are asking for rights that we here can, fortunately, take for granted.”

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal

Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy