European Union struggles to shield firms from Trump Iran sanctions fallout


Trump on May 8 announced his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, calling the multilateral pact "defective at its core" and unable to fully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

European diplomats have complained that the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran agreement when they were still eager to continue consultations and without explaining Washington's new nuclear demands on Tehran.

"But I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest, ultimately, to come long with us".

He followed through with a reimposition of sanctions on foreign companies that continue to do business with Iran, giving them either a 90-day or 180-day grace period to terminate their existing contracts, otherwise to face punitive measures by the U.S. government. "It depends on the conduct of other governments".

Trump denounced the accord, completed under his predecessor Barack Obama, as a "horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made" as it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile programme or its role in Middle East conflicts.

However, Washington's decision to pull out of the global nuclear deal and its threat to reimpose sanctions on firms doing business in Iran has cast fresh doubt over this new trade.

European diplomats complained that the approach was too rigid and would rewrite the 2015 Iran agreement they had signed.

Mr Johnson said before the meeting: "We will be looking at all the ways we can come up with to protect legitimate United Kingdom and European businesses who may want to trade with Iran, who do want to trade and have great plans to do that".

He was due to hold talks later in Brussels with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

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The three European nations' foreign ministers are set to meet on Monday with their Iranian counterpart to discuss ways of preserving the agreement, in light of Iran President Hassan Rouhani's statement that the accord could still survive if the other negotiation parties refused to go along with Trump. "The answer is no", Mr Le Maire told reporters.

According to Zarif, the goal of his trip is to get guarantees from the other participants of the nuclear deal that the interests of Iran will be protected.

Zarif arrived in Beijing on Sunday for the first stop of his tour, ahead of visiting Moscow and Brussels in the coming days.

Many European diplomats doubt privately that the 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers can survive the reimposition of USA sanctions ordered by Trump, but the European powers will say that they stick by the terms of the 2015 pact giving Iran sanctions relief in return for an end to its nuclear ambitions.

The EU insists the deal is working, pointing to repeated United Nations inspections verifying the Islamic republic's compliance with its side of the bargain, and Mogherini's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP ahead Zarif's arrival that "we must do our utmost to preserve it".

Despite the USA exit, Britain and Iran expressed their commitment to ensuring that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

The Trump administration portrayed its rejection of the nuclear agreement as a response, in part, to Tehran's interventions in the Middle East, underpinning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tough line towards Iran.

Israel and Iran engaged in an extensive military exchange on the heels of Trump's decision to leave the deal.

Analysts have suggested Russian Federation could benefit economically from the U.S. pull-out, as it is less exposed to the consequences of renewed sanctions than Europe.