European Union firms in Iran caught between United States and Europe

Hassan Rouhani and Donald Trump

European enterprises can either comply with U.S. sanctions and face consequences in Europe for violating the "blocking statute" or keep doing business in Iran and face United States sanctions.

Asked about any possible exemptions to the renewed sanctions, officials said they would examine any requests on a case-by-case basis.

"We are doing our best to keep Iran in the deal, to keep Iran benefitting from the economic benefits that the agreement brings to the people of Iran, because we believe that this is (in) the security interests not only of our region but also of the world".

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has moved to reassure businesses they will not face legal action in connection with deals with Iranian firms.

In an early-morning tweet, Trump said the reimposition of sanctions means, "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States". "So for the moment the choice is already made by most of these companies to pull out of Iran, despite the threat of the European Union to sue them for doing so", Euronews' Brussels correspondent Bryan Carter reported for Good Morning Europe. Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies said they "signal that the administration is serious in its intent to recreate the leverage that existed between the U.S. and Iran prior to the nuclear deal". Russian Federation and China also signed on to the 2015 deal. Rouhani, who has denounced Trump's decision to quit the accord, is expected to address his nation later on Monday. European allies said they "deeply regret" the U.S. action.

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Few American companies do much business in Iran, an enemy of the United States since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, so the impact of any sanctions depends on Washington's ability to block European and Asian firms from doing business there. But, he said, the reimposed sanctions would endanger "ordinary Iranians".

Severe reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the swirl of claims coming through social media.

The commission says such US sanctions are illegal and refuses to abide by them, noting that it intends to maintain trade and economic relations with Iran as part of the hard-won 2015 deal, signed by the so-called "P5+1" powers - namely the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, UK, China, France and Russia), plus Germany. "Negotiations with sanctions doesn't make sense".

Trump had promised on the campaign trail to tear up what he called the "worst deal ever negotiated", which eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "That is not going to happen", said John Glaser of the Cato Institute.

The second phase of USA sanctions, which takes effect on 5 November and will block Iran's oil sales, is due to cause more damage, but several countries including China, India and Turkey have indicated they are not willing to entirely cut their Iranian energy purchases.

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