By F. Brinley Bruton, Andy Eckardt and Carlo Angerer
LONDON — European firms that stop doing business with Iran because of reimposed U.S. sanctions could in turn be sanctioned by the E.U., a special adviser to the 28-country bloc's top diplomat has warned.
“If E.U. companies abide by U.S. secondary sanctions they will, in turn, be sanctioned by the E.U.," Nathalie Tocci, an aide to E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, told Britain’s BBC Radio 4 on Monday night.
The Trump administration's decision to walk away from the landmark 2015 Iran pact signed by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the U.S., Russia, France, China and the U.K. — as well as Germany and the European Union, dismayed and angered longtime U.S. allies and vital trading partners.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson traveled to the U.S. aiming to convince President Donald Trump not to ditch the deal, saying it was working and the only way to halt a regional arms race.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Mogherini told reporters Tuesday that the E.U. was doing its "best to keep Iran in the deal, to keep Iran benefiting from the economic benefits that the agreement brings to the people of Iran.”
Tocci, the adviser, conceded that potential E.U. sanctions as part of the so-called blocking statute that came into effect on Tuesday were "politically and symbolically" an important step. The European measures are aimed at allowing firms to recover damages from bodies that enforce American sanctions, and ban companies from complying with the sanctions without E.U. permission.
Virtually all multinational firms do business or banking in the U.S., leaving European companies vulnerable to American sanctions punishing those operating in and with Iran.
Trump doubled down on his stance on Iran early Tuesday.
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!
At midnight Monday, the U.S. began targeting oil-rich Iran's automotive industry and civil aviation sector, as well as trade in gold and other metals in a set of punitive measures that had been eased under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
Trump has called for a wholesale overhaul of Iranian regional policies, such as an end to its military support for the Syrian government and regional militant groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah. The 2015 pact did not curb these actions, one reason Trump has called the agreement "the worst deal ever."