“We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal” from the Iran nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, said the EU and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain – the three EU powers that led the initial nuclear negotiations with Iran – in a statement on Saturday.
“We ... take note with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regards to trade in oil with Iran,” the joint statement said.
“We also note with concern the decision by the United States not to fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects,” the statement added.
“The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the JCPOA – it is aimed at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people,” according to the statement.
The EU and its three major powers said they remained “deeply convinced” that the Iran nuclear deal was key to stability and security in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their commitment to it. They said the accord was working and delivering on its goal, and that Iran was continuing to comply.
“We encourage all countries, including Russia and China as JCPOA participants, to make their best efforts to pursue the legitimate trade that the agreement allows for, through concrete steps,” they added.
The United States on Friday unveiled additional sanctions on Iran's export of enriched uranium as specified under the 2015 deal, although it said it would still grant waivers to permit the deal to continue.
The US renewed five nuclear exemptions for 90 days, instead of 180, as in the past. But it did not renew two other exemptions, which enable Iran to continue low grade uranium enrichment. Based on this decision, Iran cannot ship out its enriched uranium and receive new supplies of natural uranium. It also cannot move out its heavy water.
US President Donald Trump last year withdrew his country from the Iran deal, which still has the support of the UN Security Council and the remaining signatories to the accord: Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and Iran. Tehran agreed to the nuclear restrictions in return for a lifting of sanctions originally imposed by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
Nuclear inspectors have certified that Iran has stuck by the terms of the deal.
But Trump, surrounded by hawkish aides, has been progressively ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Iran, demanding it also rein in its conventional military missile program and stop its activities in the Middle East.
Last week, Washington said it would stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, in an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also slammed the US decision to cancel the two nuclear exemptions, saying Washington seeks regime change in Iran.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on Saturday Iran will continue uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal with world powers, despite the US move to stop it.
“Under the nuclear accord Iran can produce heavy water and this is not in violation of the agreement. Therefore we will carry on with enrichment activity,” Larijani said, adding that the enrichment is “none of any country’s business.”
Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg and Interfax contributed to this story.