Iran Nuclear Deal: Europe Scrambles To Save As Trump Pulls Out

European nations remain committed to the deal as they work to save their businesses with Iran.

What you need to know
  • European nations insist the 'deal is not dead'
  • Iran says Europe has a 'limited opportunity' to preserve the deal
  • Trump prepares to enforce sanctions on Iran

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) -- Dismayed European allies sought to salvage the international nuclear pact and preserve their business with Iran on Wednesday after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark accord and ordered sanctions reimposed on Tehran.

“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who helped engineer the 2015 deal to ease Iran’s economically crippling isolation, told French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a phone call that Europe had only a “limited opportunity” to preserve the pact, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

Trump exits Nuclear deal. Image: Reuters.

“(Europe) ... must, as quickly as possible, clarify its position and specify and announce its intentions with regard to its obligations,” ISNA quoted Rouhani as saying to Macron.

Macron, who like other European leaders had lobbied Trump to keep the agreement signed before he took office, urged Rouhani to keep respecting the deal and consider broader negotiations.

Trump said on Tuesday he would revive US economic sanctions, which would penalise foreign firms doing business with Tehran, to undermine what he called “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.

On Wednesday, he said Iran would now either negotiate or “something will happen”. It was not immediately clear what actions he was suggesting would take place.

Iran has drafted a “proportional” plan to cope with the US move, the official news agency IRNA quoted government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as saying. He said budgets had been drawn up to deal with various scenarios, though did not elaborate.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks about the nuclear deal in Tehran. Image: Reuters

The fruit of more than a decade of diplomacy, the nuclear agreement was clinched in July 2015 by the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran.

It was designed to prevent Iran developing a nuclear bomb in return for the removal of sanctions that had crippled its economy, not least by Washington threatening to penalise businesses anywhere in the world that traded with Iran.

Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Tim Ahmann, Makini Brice, Warren Strobel, Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed, Patricia Zengerle, David Lawder and Mohammad Zargham in Washington, Ayenat Mersie in New York, Sybille de La Hamaide, John Irish and Tim Hepher in Paris, Parisa Hafezi in Ankara, David Milliken and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, Andrew Torchia in Dubai; Writing by Angus MacSwan and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Heinrich.