November 2, 2016
Greece has defied its European allies and Washington by blocking European Union sanctions on an Iranian bank the U.S. accuses of financing terrorism, officials familiar with the move say.
Athens’s action last month marked the first time a European country has picked apart the sanctions regimen meant to remain in place following the July 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran. The plan is designed to constrain Iran’s ability to resume illicit activities and pressure it to stick by the agreement.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government undertook to rehabilitate Bank Saderat, a partly state-owned company that runs Iran’s largest banking network, as Athens seeks to rebuild close economic ties with Iran, a key source of cheap energy for the country in the past.
But the move is potentially risky for Greece, which will host President Barack Obama this month. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned last year that any firm that deals with Bank Saderat “will risk losing its access to the U.S. financial system.”