Defying US, EU vows to protect legal trade with Iran

By Merve Aydogan

ANKARA (AA) – Amid U.S. plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran, the European Union and heavyweight members Germany, France, and Britain on Monday expressed "deep" regret and vowed to protect Europeans doing "legitimate" business with Iran.

"We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S., due to the latter's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)" — the formal name for the Iran deal — said a statement issued by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini along with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt.

"We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council Resolution 2231," statement added.

Underscoring the significance of the Iran nuclear deal, the statement called it “a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world."

"The remaining parties to the JCPOA 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. On these, as on other topics, our work continues, including with third countries interested in supporting the JCPOA and maintaining economic relations with Iran."

The joint statement also stressed that "preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security."

In July 2015, the P5+1 group of countries — the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany — signed the nuclear deal with Iran.

In it, world powers agreed to lift some economic sanctions in return for Tehran agreeing to limit its nuclear activity to peaceful civilian purposes.

But on May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country's unilateral withdrawal from the deal, drawing condemnation worldwide.