BRUSSELS – The European Union’s second highest court on Thursday annulled EU sanctions on an Iranian bank and 40 shipping companies hit with asset freezes as part of pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.
But they will remain under sanctions for now after the General Court gave the EU time to appeal or to decide whether to re-impose sanctions using different legal grounds. The court’s rulings were handed down as six major powers and Iran strive to meet an end-June deadline for a long-term agreement to curb
Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The EU put Bank Tejarat, an Iranian commercial bank, under sanctions in 2012, saying it had helped Iran’s nuclear efforts. The General Court struck down the sanctions, saying the Council of EU governments had failed to prove that Bank Tejarat had provided support for nuclear proliferation or had helped others to avoid sanctions. It also said the bank was partially privatised in 2009 and the Iranian state was no longer its majority shareholder.