Much to President Trump’s chagrin, The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Tuesday that the bloc would seek avenues for protecting businesses operating in Iran – even as the US threatens to impose tighter sanctions on any company that dares to continue operating in Iran after the US has revived its economic sanctions.
While it couldn’t provide any economic or legal guarantees to the Islamic Republic, Mogherini said they would find a way to keep badly needed investment flowing into Iran. A series of experts have been assigned to the issue, and they’re expected to propose a few options in the coming weeks.
“We are working on finding a practical solution,” Mogherini told a news conference.
“We are talking about solutions to keep the deal alive,” she said, adding that measures would seek to allow Iran to keep exporting oil and for European banks to operate.
The EU has already warned the US that it’s prepared to impose “counter-sanctions” if the US interferes with European firms who choose to maintain their business relationships in Iran, as President Trump threatened to do in a phone call with European leaders shortly before he announced the US’s withdrawal from the agreement, according to Reuters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani surprised the other signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last week when he said Iran would continue to abide by the terms of the deal – for now, at least – and give the other signatories a chance to salvage it.
Both Russia and China have expressed regret over the US’s decision. Both have vowed to maintain ties with Iran in accordance with the deal.
Of course, Europe has an ulterior motive for safeguarding its relationship with Iran: Russia, Iran’s primary ally among the major world powers, remains the biggest supplier of energy to Europe, especially during winter.
Though the US has extended a waiver for its steel and aluminum sanctions, growing trade tensions between the EU and the US are threatening to further erode their relationship.