BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union voiced deep regret on Monday over U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewal of sanctions on Iran, which will test the bloc’s ability to preserve a 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear activity in return for sanctions relief.
Despite protest from European allies, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to fully enforce the snapback of sanctions, whose implementation will be detailed by the U.S. administration on Monday.
The EU and other parties to the deal, China and Russia, are working to maintain trade with Iran, which has threatened to stop complying with curbs on its nuclear work if it fails to see the economic benefits of relief from sanctions under the deal.
One EU measure to mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions, known as the blocking statute, will come into force on Tuesday.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S.,” the bloc said in a joint statement with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain.
“The remaining parties … have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas.”
The EU’s so-called blocking statute seeks to shield small and medium-sized businesses working in Iran.
It seeks to forbid EU persons from complying with U.S. sanctions, allow for the recovery of related damages and counter court rulings to enforce American penalties.
EU officials admit, however, that the measure does not go far enough in protecting big European firms from the risks of investing in Iran.
With the U.S. administration taking a hard line on waivers, many major companies have already announced that they are quitting the country.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Alissa de Carbonnel, Editing by William Maclean