Iran-EU nuclear talks start in Brussels

France Wants to Defend EU Firms From US Sanctions on Iran- French Minister

France Wants to Defend EU Firms From US Sanctions on Iran- French Minister

Days after US President Donald J. Trump announced that he would buck worldwide protocol and unilaterally pull the United States out of a landmark deal that helped curb Iran's nuclear weapons programme, the European Union has been forced to ponder how it will respond to a threat issued by Trump's White House on May 13 that Washington would impose stiff economic sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Tehran.

Against appeals from other parties to the deal, including Britain, France and Germany, President Trump made the official announcement on Tuesday, May 8, and called the 2015 Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) "the worst deal ever negotiated".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Russian Federation has confirmed its preparedness to respect the seven-party nuclear agreement reached in 2015 despite the United States pullout.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said that Russian Federation and Europe had a duty to "jointly defend their legal interests" in terms of the Iran deal.

Iran's foreign minister says talks with the EU's foreign policy chief in Brussels were "constructive". "We will all save it together".

"We are on the right path to move forward".

The EU, which along with Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the United States, signed the nuclear accord with Iran, does have some steps it can take to shield European business in Iran.

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In the past week, it has slapped a new series of sanctions against Iran. In the past, the European Union has also lodged complaints at the World Trade Organisation.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened the European allies that Washington is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies if their governments refuse to heed Trump's demand to stop dealing with Iran. The accord stipulated a gradual lifting of anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program and allowing inspections to ensure that the nature of the program is peaceful.

Trump's newly-named National Security Adviser John Bolton said that it is "possible" that the USA would sanction European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran, a statement that received a lukewarm reaction from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said he remained hopeful that Washington and its allies European could strike a new deal with the Iranian government. "We will try to uphold our side of the bargain".

Among them is the possible use of an EU "blocking regulation" which would, in essence, ban European companies from respecting American sanctions where those sanctions might damage EU interests, notably trade and the movement of capital.

"Let's not fool ourselves that there are dozens of things we can do", said a second senior European diplomat.

According to Ms Mogherini, the deal is capable of surviving without U.S. support as long as Iran continues to agree to stand by it.

But European diplomats were despondent. "We don't have much to threaten the Americans".

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