Top European Union officials say they “deeply regret” President Trump’s move Monday to start reimposing nuclear sanctions on Iran. The officials also have promised to block the US sanctions and preserve the deal.
A joint statement offered by the various top-ranking foreign policy officials in the EU, the Foreign Ministers of the three P5+1 parties and the EU chief Federica Mogherini, says they will maintain effective financial channels for Iran and ensure that they can keep exporting oil and gas.
The statement further says that the preservation of the nuclear deal is both about respecting international agreement and is “a matter of international security.” The US is threatening ‘severe consequences’ for those who don’t abide by their sanctions.
This is setting the stage for a big battle of wills between the US and the European Union. In the past, the EU was able to block enforcement of US sanctions on Cuba, and the strategy is likely to be similar with Iran. The Trump Administration, however, seems disinclined to reach any deal with the EU.
Still, the EU is clearly not alone in this, and there is no sign any of the remaining P5+1 deal signatories are going along with US demands. China has already ruled out halting oil buys, for instance. The US ability to force big powers to go along with unilateral sanctions is very much being tested.