EU focused on preserving nuclear deal, economic ties
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday his country stands ready to provide support to Iran in restoring its economy and bolster trade ties as long as Tehran complies with the Iran nuclear deal after the United States dropped out of the international accord.
"We will continue to make efforts to fulfill Iran's hopes for economic recovery and good trade relations as long as Iran is ready and able to prove that it adheres to its obligations under the nuclear deal," Maas said at the Global Solutions Summit held in Berlin.
US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – plus Germany.
Trump also said he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Last week, Maas said after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the two countries “are pursuing two entirely separate paths” on the Iran issue.
The other signatories to the JCPOA denounced the US withdrawal, confirmed their commitment to the agreement and refused to put pressure on Iran.
EU seeking to preserve economic interests
On Monday, the European Union foreign policy chief said the EU seeks to shield the bloc's strategic and economic interests in Iran and that the unity of the member states is unquestioned.
Federica Mogherini said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers that the member states were intensely coordinating their efforts "to protect the economic investments of European businesses that have legitimately invested and engaged in Iran" over the past three years since the nuclear deal was agreed.
She insisted the EU was not motivated by business profits in trying to keep the deal alive.
"For us, this is not about an economic interest. It is about a security interest," Mogherini said.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, however, said that Poland opposes any EU actions that would weaken US sanctions.
The top EU diplomat downplayed reports of friction between Poland and the rest of the EU over how to deal with US President Donald Trump and his hard-line stance toward Tehran.
Last week, the EU's executive Commission announced that it would start revising a so-called blocking regulation that was drawn up in 1996 in response to the fallout from US sanctions on Cuba, Libya and Iran.
The measure has never been used, but in essence it bans companies from respecting American sanctions where those sanctions might damage EU interests, notably trade and the movement of capital.
For the blocking regulation to be used now, it would have to be updated to include US nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. This would take time and runs the risk that any one of the 28 EU member countries could block the move.
The EU is also ready to allow the European Investment Bank to help companies invest in Iran. On top of that, the EU's energy commissioner is heading to Tehran for talks on boosting energy cooperation.
Sputnik and AP contributed to this story.