United States may impose sanctions on European firms working with Iran:Bolton

The deal was viewed by Trump as "the worst deal ever", possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible.

Macron's office said the two leaders spoke on Saturday and the French leader expressed his "great concern about stability" in the region. In the administration's view, measures like crippling USA -led sanctions against Pyongyang's critical industries brought North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to his knees - and the same policy should work with Tehran, as well.

The commission members were "very well aware that there is no one magic option which can be applied", said a senior European Union official, who added that measures would take time to come into effect.

Deep US-European discord over Tehran is not unprecedented.

The EU's energy commissioner is also traveling this week to Iran to discuss strengthening European energy support to Iran. In response, Brussels agreed reciprocal steps to protect European businesses and adopt counter-measures against the U.S. where restrictions were imposed by Washington.

Now he sits at Donald Trump's elbow, alongside the similarly scary Peter Navarro, author of Death by China, and I barely dare think in any detail about what is going to happen next.

"Iran should never develop nuclear weapons, the Iranian regime also should never develop an Intercontinental ballistic missile, to stop developing missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and to stop the transfer of missile technology to other parties", - stated in the message of the White house.

Given such rhetoric, it is unlikely he will back track from his decision. "Unfortunately, once again we see that Washington is seeking to revise key global agreements", Lavrov said.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is determined to save the 2015 deal with Iran. So far, China, France, Russia, Britain, the European Union and Iran remain in the accord, which placed controls on Iran's nuclear program and led to a relaxation of United States economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

The situation around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program is a crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said opening talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, TASS reports. The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program between Iran and the six worldwide mediators (Russia, USA, UK, France, China, Germany) was concluded on 14 July 2015. Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, made a last-ditch appeal via the US President's favourite show, Fox & Friends, to encourage Trump to stay in the deal.

While the world remembers Obama's retreat from his "red line" threat to the Bashar Assad regime, the context for the US decision not to punish the beleaguered Syrian government-and instead give the Russians carte blanch there-was the administration's worry about alienating Syria's Iranian ally. Usually in life, if you commit to do something and then don't do it, there are consequences.

Washington's decision to go against its European allies' advice and abandon the deal has pushed them closer to Beijing and Moscow on the issue as diplomats scramble to keep the pact alive. French, German and United Kingdom politicians consider his presidency an aberration and a temporary setback.

European diplomats acknowledged that the EU support, however honest, risked looking hollow after Trump reimposed an array of wide sanctions last week on Iran that will hit European companies investing there.

Europe took a similar path after Washington passed the ILSA legislation in 1996.

In Tuesday's meetings, Europe and Iran sought to preserve the landmark agreement. Lest we forget, 2018 began with Kim and Trump exchanging threats for the umpteenth time, and with Trump going so far as to boast about the size of his "nuclear button".

Taken overall, transatlantic tensions are now spiking again and this could make a tricky G7 summit next month. They had pleaded for it to be preserved but made more palatable to the United States by separate agreements on ballistic missiles and other issues.

Vanessa Coleman

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