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European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

President Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month and pledged to ramp up pressure on the country.

The step comes after Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Brussels and met with his British, French and German counterparts to discuss the future of the nuclear deal without the US.

However, the Cuba row was settled politically, so the blocking regulation's effectiveness was never put to the test, and its value may lie more in becoming a bargaining chip with Washington. The goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of U.S. sanctions take effect.

The European Commission announced it is enacting its so-called "blocking statute" which forbids EU companies from complying with sanctions re-imposed by the US President.

In a clear response to the United States move, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that the bloc plans to apply a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with any sanctions the U.S. will reintroduce against Tehran, Deutsche Welle reported.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said the statute was being introduced to protect European firms. Beijing and Moscow have also stepped up efforts to save the deal.

"Guarantees of benefits of the JCPOA should be given to Iran".

During their meeting with their Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif earlier this week, European Union foreign ministers discussed how best to keep the nuclear agreement alive without the US.

The commission Friday called for doing more to help Iran's energy sector and small and medium-sized companies, as part of "confidence-building measures".

On other fronts, the commission moved Friday to remove hurdles for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance activities outside the EU, such as in Iran.

And, in a bid to reassure the Iranian government of the EU's political commitment to saving the nuclear deal, Energy Commissioner Miguel Canete is visiting Tehran this weekend.

It said the move will "allow the EIB to support European Union investment in Iran", particularly involving small and medium-sized companies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that it might be possible to compensate small and medium-sized firms, but not all businesses, from U.S. sanctions.