EghtesadOnline: The United States threatened on Sunday to impose sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran, as the remaining participants in the Iran nuclear accord stiffened their resolve to keep that agreement operational.
White House national security adviser, John Bolton, said US sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were “possible”, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran, Reuters reported.
Bolton struck a more hawkish tone with his comments in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” program than Pompeo did on “Fox News Sunday.”
US President Donald Trump said on May 8 that the United States was withdrawing from a 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration, Financial Tribune reported.
So far, China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and Iran remain in the accord that placed controls on Iran’s nuclear program and eased economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.
Despite the US exit, Britain and Iran expressed their commitment on Sunday to ensure that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking in Dublin, declared: “We are stakeholders” and will remain so.
Germany said it would spend the next few months trying to persuade Washington to change its mind. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, however, acknowledged that protecting European companies from potential US penalties could be difficult.
Asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: “It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments.” Pompeo said he was “hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works”.
The US withdrawal from the Iran deal has upset Washington’s European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.
Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Sunday that Berlin would try to “persuade the US government to change its behavior”. In an interview with ZDF public television, Altmaier noted the US had set a 90-day deadline for foreign firms to comply with the return of sanctions and that this period could be used to convince Washington to change course.
Bolton said Europe was still digesting Trump’s move last week.
“I think at the moment there’s some feeling in Europe. They’re really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in; we’ll see what happens then,” Bolton said.