British, French and German foreign ministers met in Brussels on Tuesday to see how they can save the nuclear deal without the United States, but appeared hard-pressed over how their companies could continue doing business with Iran once Washington begins to reimpose sanctions.
Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday hailed talks with the European Union to try to find a way to rescue the Iran nuclear deal after the United States pulled out as a "good start".
"It was a good and constructive meeting", he said, adding that "we are on the right track.to make sure that the interests of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, especially Iran, will be guaranteed".
The message from Europe came just over a week after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would pull out of the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under which Iran pledged to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
He also asserted that the future of the nuclear agreement of July 14, 2015, hinges on the assurance to be given to Iran by the remaining 5 signatory states of the original sextet.
"I think you have to start first with the fundamental deficiencies of the deal itself", Bolton said.
According to Zarif, the objective of his trip is to get guarantees from the other participants of the nuclear deal that the interests of Iran will be protected.
An EU spokesman played down suggestions that concrete proposals would be offered to Iran on Tuesday, but insisted it would be left in no doubt that the EU would stay in the deal, which was signed in 2015, as long as inspectors find that Iran is complying with its terms. Then he left Moscow for Brussels where he is slated to meet with the foreign ministers of UK, Germany, and France as well as the EU High Representative Mogherini.
"It won't be easy, that's clear to all of us".
"Guarantees of benefits of the JCPOA should be given to Iran".
Mike Pompeo, the USA secretary of state, spoke to his European counterparts to set out how he expects European companies to withdraw from trade with Iran.
"It would not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons".
Europe and Iran sought a common front on Tuesday to save the nuclear deal without the United States, although some diplomats doubted privately it can survive the reimposition of USA sanctions ordered by President Donald Trump.
Zarif said the latest U.S. decision was "illegal".
The deal between Iran and six world powers lifted most global sanctions in 2016 in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme, under strict surveillance by the United Nations, to stockpile enriched uranium for a possible atomic bomb. Following Trump's decision, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned nine Iranian individuals and entities including those with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Possible measures include reviving an EU-wide blocking regulation from 1996, which was meant to prevent USA sanctions from affecting European firms trading with Cuba, Libya and Iran.
German exports to Iran totaled almost 3 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros ($670 million) in 2015 to 1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field.
However, on Tuesday the United States hit Iran's central bank governor with sanctions.
"We have to accept, be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how that can serve as a deterrent to businesses", Johnson said.