'US may impose sanctions on European firms working with Iran'

'US may impose sanctions on European firms working with Iran'

On May 8, President Trump announced the USA withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which limited the country's uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief and imposing the highest level of economic sanctions on Tehran, triggering global outcry.

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, predicted that "the Europeans will see that it's in their interests to come along with us" rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European corporations have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday on Europe-1 radio that Europe should not accept that the U.S.is the "world's economic policeman".

Both Le Maire and Germany's finance minister Olaf Scholz had spoken to their USA counterpart Steven Mnuchin, urging him to consider exemptions or delays for companies already present in the country. In a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union", he said Iran's economic condition is "really quite shaky", so the impact of sanctions "could be dramatic". On Wednesday, Shuang said China would "carry on the normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran".

Iran has said it is preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain trade ties despite renewed USA sanctions.

The Prime Minister had already issued a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express their "regret and concern". US intelligence agencies and worldwide organizations have verified that it has been complying with the agreement.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Russian Federation and its ex-Soviet allies will sign a free trade pact with Iran. The grouping includes Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. "No, I think it's going to be a great deal of struggle, and I foresee years and years of trying to figure out how to get better relations with Iran again".

The EU's energy commissioner is also traveling this week to Iran to discuss strengthening European energy support to Iran.

"This deal is not a bilateral treaty".

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"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", Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters after talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

She called for calm on all sides.

"The general mood music is that it's going to be very hard", she said.

Some fear Europe's room for maneuver is limited. This is no insignificant issue, especially when the USA forces trade partners to choose between Iran - and sanctions - and the lucrative American market.

According to the senior diplomat, maintaining the deal will depend on whether "the Europeans are ready to provide European economic entities with such a level of protection that would allow them to continue cooperating with Iran following the resumption of extraterritorial United States sanctions".

In his television appearance Sunday, Mr. Pompeo also expanded on his comments Friday that the US would help North Korea achieve economic prosperity if it gave up its nuclear arsenal.

Among things the European Union could consider, he said, are reinforcing a 1996 "blocking statute" that could allow companies to ignore sanctions. No U.S. government money would be provided to North Korea.

"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extra-territoriality and how that can serve as a deterrent to business", said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The U.S. Treasury announced on Tuesday more sanctions on officials of the Iranian central bank, including Governor Valiollah Seif, for allegedly moving millions of dollars on behalf of the country's Revolutionary Guards Corps to Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group.