French business confederation, MEDEF, says it has set up a hotline for companies nervous about what the implications of the US withdrawing from the Vienna Agreement easing sanctions against Iran will be.

Sanctions are due to be imposed after a three and six-month moratorium allowing companies to wind down operations in Iran, but European countries, particularly France, the UK and Germany, have reacted with fury to the American position.

Renault and PSA in particular have established significant tie-ups with Iranian companies such as Saipa and Iran Khodro, with both automakers present at a swiftly-called meeting this week with 60 French businesses and the Foreign Ministry in Paris to discuss the implications of renewed sanctions.

OEMS and suppliers are now attempting to understand whether or not reimposed sanctions would impact their businesses, particularly with regard to operations being conducted in dollars.

“For the moment we have no precise estimation,” a MEDEF spokeswoman told just-auto from Paris. “We are completely mobilised and have put in place a telephone number for legal questions.

“In any case we are [trying] with the French government to find solutions with the American authorities. The situation is quite complex.

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“MEDEF International was there [French Foreign Ministry meeting]. For the moment it is difficult [to] give an official position.”

French supplier association, FIEV’s subsidiary, Club Iran, has branded President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement “a big mistake” as Western countries fight to preserve the deal.

France has considerable historical ties with Iran and moved to significantly up its presence in Iran in automotive, aerospace and petrochemical areas once the green light was given, but is now facing a battle to keep its considerable presence in the country intact.

“It is a mistake – the exit of the US is a big mistake,” Club Iran president, Didier Henin told just-auto from France. “It is still insufficiently clear [there is] not enough communication. We are waiting for the passion to subside a bit.

As well as the three Western capitals, the European Union has also waded into the debate with High Representative, Federica Mogherini, effectively representing Brussels’ external service, noting: “I met with the Foreign Ministers of France (Jean-Yves Le Drian), Germany (Heiko Maas), the United Kingdom (Boris Johnson) and of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Mohammad Javad Zarif) in two separate meetings, to discuss our common lines and the work ahead of us, following the announcement made by the US of its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal. 

“We recalled our commitment to the continued, full and effective implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, as a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and a significant diplomatic achievement. 

“We, together, regretted the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal and we recognised the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the agreement.”

The Quai d’Orsay (French Foreign Ministry) added it viewed the Iranian nuclear deal remained “in force” and that it regretted the US withdrawal.

“France refuses the principle of extra-territorial sanctions,” said the Foreign Ministry. “We ask the US that the return of American sanctions does not apply to French and European businesses which operate with Iran or invest there in the framework of the nuclear agreement.

“France will act to protect its businesses. We have established, with our European partners, contacts with Washington on this point.”