Ambassador to Germany threatens companies with U.S. ban over Iran

Ambassador to Germany threatens companies with U.S. ban over Iran
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U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warned companies that they could be blocked from the U.S. market if they do business with Iran.

“You can do as much business as you want in Iran, but we have a say with regards to your visa,” Grenell, who has a history of exasperating his Berlin hosts, told Bild newspaper in an interview. “Because if you do something, we’re not going to agree to let you enter our country.”

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The Trump administration doubled down this week on its hard-line stance against Iran, slapping a new round of sanctions on its steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors and deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region as Tehran declared it would curtail its cooperation with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

A former Fox News contributor who emerged as a vocal Trump loyalist, Grenell has often criticized the German government over remarks on Iran, military spending and a gas pipeline from Russia. He reportedly threatened to limit intelligence sharing with Germany in March if Berlin allowed equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co. into the country’s fifth-generation mobile networks. 

Grenell also criticized German politicians who have rejected the U.S. demand for the country and other NATO allies to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

“That someone says you need to reform NATO, but not strive for the 2%, I find hypocritical,” Grenell told Bild. “Another thing that surprised me a lot is how many German politicians try to pretend the 2% goal is only a target and not a real obligation.” 

He also expressed surprise at Germany’s apparent restraint within the European Union given that it has the most powerful economy in the bloc.

“You have the strongest economy, your workforce is phenomenal, your ingenuity, your creativity and your entrepreneurial spirit are the best,” he said. “That’s why I am surprised at how hesitant the Germans are to flex their muscles in Brussels and on the world stage.”