Europe, Iran seek to save nuclear deal after United States pullout

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Yves Le Drian leaves the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris

White House National Security adviser John Bolton said United States sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were "possible".

President Donald Trump's long-anticipated decision to pull the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic will have a swift effect on some big companies.

This would include, Mogherini said, "maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran" as well as the continued sale of Iranian energy, "effective banking transactions" and continued transport links.

Speaking to reporters after talks with Mogherini, Zarif struck an optimistic note.

"If the remaining five countries in the deal live up to their commitments and guarantee Iran's interests, the agreement will survive", he said during a meeting with visiting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena. After Trump's announcement on Tuesday, the British, French, and German governments issued a joint statement reaffirming their support for the deal.

Le Drian said the new sanctions regime would also affect the USA and that Europeans would "put in place the necessary measures to protect the interests of our companies and start negotiations with Washington" on the matter.

"One thing is absolutely sure is that the European Union is determined to preserve this deal that is essential to our security and the security of the region".

The European Commission has been examining measures to counter the introduction of any US sanctions that might harm European businesses and is expected to unveil them to EU leaders at a summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday.

The European Union insists the deal is working, pointing to repeated United Nations inspections verifying the Islamic republic's compliance with its side of the bargain. "The Europeans should not have to pay for the withdrawal from an agreement by the United States, to which they had themselves contributed".

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She said there would be "protection of European Union economic operators and ... last but not least, the further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran".

"We might conceivably achieve regime change at some stage in the near future but I cannot with any confidence say that would be a change for the better because it seems equally plausible to me to imagine that Qasem Soleimani of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) could put himself in a very good position to take over from Ayatollah Khamenei for instance".

More than €143 million worth of Irish exports to Iran are under threat from U.S. president Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the global nuclear deal and to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic state.

"We're telling the Americans that it's their business what sanctions they impose, but we consider the extraterritoriality of these measures unacceptable", Le Drian said.

Germany is ready to help 120 of its firms to keep doing business with Iran, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday.

Mohammad Javad Zarif's diplomatic tour took him to Beijing at the weekend and will see him visit Brussels later in the week, as the worldwide backers of the 2015 accord scrabble to save it.

"I think the Europeans will see that's in their interest ultimately to go along with this", he said.

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".

But last week US President Donald Trump announced he was leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions.

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