European leaders hit back today at US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran which will take effect tonight.
A joint statement from the UK, French, German and EU foreign ministers said they "deeply regret" the US decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the agreement signed in 2015 by Iran, China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, Germany and the EU.
The European statement said preserving the deal was a "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security".
It is introducing a “blocking statute” today to shield EU companies "doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions” the statement said.
The blocking statute will allow EU companies to recover damages resulting from US sanctions and ban them from complying with sanctions unless they get special dispensation from the European Commission.
Under the deal Iran agreed to drastically scale back its nuclear programme in return for relief from sanctions introduced by the international community over fears it was developing nuclear weapons.
Trump today slammed the “horrible, one-sided deal,” which was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama.
“Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world,” Trump said.
The deal “threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Trump said.
He was praised by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said: "I congratulate President Trump and the US administration for making the important decision to impose sanctions on Iran... I call upon the countries of Europe, which talk about stopping Iran, to join this measure."
Today's announcement follows escalating rhetoric between Iran and the US which peaked on 23 July when Trump blasted Iran in an all-caps Tweet following comments by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who said “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”.
“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump said.
Trump has said he is willing to meet the Iranian president to discuss a new deal, tweeting over the weekend:
“Iran, and it’s [sic] economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter - it is up to them!” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said today: "We are always in favour of diplomacy and talks.
But talks needs honesty... Trump's call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America ... and to create chaos in Iran."