Europe’s heavyweight economies took steps yesterday to safeguard their commercial and political interests in Iran, seeking to keep the nuclear deal with Tehran alive after Washington pulled out and said sanctions would follow.
Germany, France have significant trade links with Iran and remain committed to the nuclear agreement, as does Britain, and all three countries’ foreign ministers plan to meet on Tuesday to discuss it.
That is part of a flurry of diplomatic activity lined up following Tuesday’s unilateral withdrawal from what U.S. President Donald Trump called “a horrible, one-sided deal”, a move accompanied by the threat of penalties against any foreign firms doing business in Iran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said possibilities to save the deal without Washington needed to be discussed with Tehran, while France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said EU states would propose sanctions-blocking measures to the European Commission.
“There is a realization among all European states what we cannot keep going in the direction we are headed today whereby we submit to American decisions,” Le Maire told reporters in Paris.
In Berlin, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Germany was ready to give help to its affected firms, including legal advice, to continue doing business in Iran.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said transatlantic ties had been gradually damaged by shifts in U.S. policy. “We are prepared to talk… but also to fight for our positions where necessary,” he told Der Spiegel magazine.
Europeans fear a collapse of the nuclear deal could raise the risk of deepening conflicts in the Middle East.
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