United States sanctions 'possible' on European companies doing business with Iran

Anna Jefferson
May 15, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron has called his friend and ally U.S. President Donald Trump to say he's very anxious about tensions in the Middle East, after Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord.

Before leaving Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in a telephone conversation discussed the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after the United States pullout, according to Fars.

China was closely involved in negotiating the agreement as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and has always been a close Iranian economic partner, buying about a third of Iran's oil shipments.

"We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement", Zarif said.

On Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behavior". "We couldn't reach agreement with our E3 partners", referring to Britain, France and Germany, all signatories of the Iran deal. The announcement triggered USA plans to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic within roughly three to six months.

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Tehran has warned it is preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain the economic benefits it gained from the nuclear agreement despite the USA reimposing sanctions.

The sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy, including petrochemicals, energy and finance.

Iran's foreign minister says talks with the EU's foreign policy chief in Brussels were "constructive".

He said he was "ready for all options", adding: "If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured".

And on Monday Putin met Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, telling him that Russian Federation was "ready to continue to uphold the Iran nuclear deal despite the withdrawal of the United States".

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They could consider retaliatory sanctions using the EU's so-called blocking statute that bans any European Union company from complying with United States sanctions and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

Minister for trade and export David Parker last week said it was still unclear to the nations who remained in the nuclear agreement what exports or trade were at risk when associating with Iran.

While announcing his decision, Trump called the agreement "defective at its core", claiming that after the lifting of the sanctions Tehran "used its new funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond".

A number of voices in Iran have suggested the deal is unlikely to survive. "We don't have much to threaten the Americans".

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