Iran, EU meet to try to save nuclear deal

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

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

As the USA mulls the next line of action on the abandoned Iran nuclear deal, National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned that Washington is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies if their governments don't support President Donald Trump's demand to stop dealing with Iran.

President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., May 8, 2018.

In the aftermath of Washington's pullout, Europeans are seeking ways to protect the interests of their firms doing business in Iran and help them escape the brunt of the upcoming USA sanctions.

Asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: "It's possible".

On Tuesday, German insurer Allianz said it was preparing to wind down Iran-related business due to possible United States sanctions. "It depends on the conduct of other governments". Trump's declaration Monday only requires American banks and companies to stop trading with Iran within 180 days, but the US may also apply so-called "secondary sanctions" against foreign companies that trade with Iran.

Trump said that the deal "should have never been made".

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The nuclear deal provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

"The pact with Iran is working and we have to do everything to preserve it", said the spokesperson of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. "The answer is no", Le Maire told reporters in Paris, adding that France won't accept the "vassalization of Europe" by US officials bent on reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Zarif will meet his counterparts from France, Great Britain and Germany.

Several Irish firms began trading with Iran, the Middle East's second-largest economy, in the wake of the 2015 deal to control Tehran's nuclear ambitions, which led to the lifting of long-standing global sanctions and the resumption of formal trade ties with several European countries.

Foreign ministers from the UK, France and Germany are due to sit down with their Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss how to move forward.

Zarif arrived in Beijing on Sunday for the first stop of his tour, ahead of visiting Moscow and Brussels in the coming days.

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Iranian officials have said they hope Europe will work with them to preserve the deal.

This, along with its diplomatic moves to orchestrate an end to the Syrian conflict, has put Moscow at loggerheads with the U.S. and Europe, which have intervened against the regime.

In spite of the U.S. exit, Britain and Iran on Sunday expressed their commitment to ensuring that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

It also demanded that Iran cease supplying weapons to the Houthi rebels, who have been at war with Tehran's archenemy Saudi Arabia, end cyberattacks against the USA and its allies, stop menacing US military ships in the Persian Gulf and abandon its rhetoric about destroying Israel.

Wang also noted that China regards Iran as an important partner within the Belt and Road initiative and would maintain bilateral cooperation with the Middle Eastern nation in various fields.

Mr Zarif failed to win any concrete assurances to help tackle the USA threat of economic sanctions during talks in Beijing on Sunday, and was due in Russian Federation on Monday.

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