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  •  European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

    European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 November 2018

Signatories of the Iran nuclear deal announced they will continue to trade with Iran after the U.S. announced a new wave of sanctions.

The European Union, Russia, and China have confirmed they will maintain commercial relations with Iran despite a new wave of sanctions imposed by the United States that targets Iran’s energy and banking sector.

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On Saturday Iran requested European assurances of support in the face of Washington's intent to reimpose sanctions on vital Iranian oil sales to force Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke by telephone with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and his counterparts from Germany, Sweden, and Denmark about European measures to counter the U.S. sanctions, the Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

"Mogherini and the European ministers ... highlighted the importance of the finance ministers' commitment to Europe's financial mechanism to save the Iran nuclear deal and said the mechanism will be operational in the coming days," IRNA said.

Washington will reapply far-reaching sanctions on Iran's petroleum and banking sectors starting on Monday.

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Diplomats told Reuters last week that the new EU mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian exports should be legally in place by Nov. 4, when the next phase of U.S. sanctions hit, but will not be operational until early next year.

The EU, France, Germany and Britain, said in a joint statement Friday they regretted U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to restore sanctions on Iran, the world's No. 3 oil exporter. They also stressed the nuclear deal is "a key element in the global non-proliferation architecture and multilateral diplomacy, supported unanimously by the United Nations Security Council through resolution 2231."

The three biggest European powers are co-signatories, along with Russia and China, to an international 2015 deal with Iran that reined in its nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions on Tehran.

According to Russia's Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov, new U.S. sanctions are an attempt to undermine the nuclear deal signed in 2015. The Trump administration justified the U.S. withdrawal arguing Iran had not fulfilled the agreement, an assertion that does not have the backing of the other signatory states or of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Earlier this week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “We are certain that the Americans will fail in their new plot and that they are actually in gradual retreat.”

However, Iranians fear more U.S. sanctions will further affect their quality of life, from businesses struggling to buy raw materials to the sick and elderly unable to afford life-saving medicines. "All the prices are going higher every day ... I cannot imagine what will happen after (Nov. 4). I am scared. I am worried. I am desperate," a 43-year-old elementary school teacher Pejman Sarafnejad in Tehran told Reuters.

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