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EU, France, Germany, UK to keep economic ties with Iran despite looming US sanctions

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With the United States set to reimpose sanctions against Iran from Monday, the European Union (EU) and three of its heavyweight members, Britain, France and Germany, said they would maintain economic ties with Tehran.

EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini, who is currently on an official trip to Asia, issued a joint statement with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, saying they "are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran."

Stating that the Iranian nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is working and delivering on its goal, they stressed that the deal "is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world."

"This is why the European Union's updated Blocking Statute enters into force on Aug. 7 to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions," the officials said.

They said the remaining parties to the JCPOA will maintain effective financial channels with Iran, and continue to buy Iran's oil and gas.

"Preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security," they said.

After its withdrawal from the JCPOA in May, Washington has been trying to bring sanctions back on Iran with the aim of blocking Iran's international financial transactions and reducing its oil exports to zero.

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

The first US sanctions will snap back on Aug. 6. They include sanctions on Iran's automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals.

The remaining sanctions will return on Nov. 4, targeting Iran's energy sector, petroleum-related transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal.

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