Canceling a nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran would be wrong, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, adding that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal was among several pieces of "troubling news" that had occurred recently.
President Donald Trump announced last week that the United States would abandon the landmark 2015 accord despite the European powers' sustained efforts to convince Washington to continue to adhere to the deal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China -- obliged Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Merkel told the German parliament on May 16 that while the pact was "anything but ideal...it's not right to cancel this agreement in this situation now."
But she said that despite the disagreements between Washington and its European allies over the deal, "transatlantic relations are and remain of paramount importance."
At meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on May 15, the European signatories vowed to keep the JCPOA alive despite the U.S. withdrawal.
Zarif said on May 16 that while the meetings sent a strong political message, that must now be turned into action.
"If the JCPOA is supposed to continue, it was a good start and it has sent an important political message, but this is not the end of the work," Zarif said on his flight back to Tehran, according to state news agency IRNA.
EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said on May 15 that experts had already started working on measures to get around U.S. sanctions.
The work, Mogherini said, was focusing on nine key areas including Iran's capacity to continue selling oil and gas as well as ways to protect European firms doing business in the country.
"We are determined to ensure that #IranDeal stays in place. We know it's a difficult task but we are determined to do that. And we started to work to put in place measures that help ensure that this happens" @FedericaMog pic.twitter.com/vPxQzsyLOE— European External Action Service - EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) May 15, 2018
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on May 16 that Tehran will not flag under U.S. pressure.
"They think they can make the Iranian nation surrender by putting pressure on Iran, through sanctions and even threats of war.... The Iranian nation will resist the U.S. plots," Iranian news agencies quoted Rohani as saying.
Rohani was speaking a day after Washington announced fresh sanctions on the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, accusing him of providing support for terrorist activities.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against Valiollah Seif and another senior central bank official, Ali Tarzali.
The two were named "specially designated global terrorists" for allegedly helping funnel millions of dollars on behalf of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force to support Lebanon's Hizballah militia, the OFAC said on May 15.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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