- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2018

Germany vowed Thursday to continue trying to hold the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal together, even if President Trump levels new sanctions against European companies doing business with Tehran.

“All member European Union states are still backing this agreement, despite the fact the United States has decided not to,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters according to Reuters.

While Ms. Merkel — widely seen as one of the most powerful European leaders — said she others “will continue talks with the United States,” her comments flew in the face Mr. Trump’s hope for Europe to quickly join him in pulling out of the accord.

The president has spent recent months pushing on the European signatories to work with him toward pressuring Iran into a renegotiated deal that would contain Tehran’s ongoing ballistic missile activities and extend certain limitations to its nuclear program beyond their current “sunset” date of 2025.

Last week saw the president follow through on his promise to withdraw Washington from the Obama-era deal, under which Iran had agreed with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for billions in sanctions relief.

Tehran, whose pre-deal nuclear program was long suspected by the international community of making nuclear bombs in violation of repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions, has responded to Mr. Trump’s pull-out with threats to ramp up uranium enrichment, the process needed for bomb production.

In announcing last week’s pullout, Mr. Trump vowed to re-impose pre-deal sanctions on Iran immediately, but allow 90-day to 180-day grace periods for businesses from the nations remaining in the accord to wind down their existing engagement with Iranian banks.

With that as a backdrop, Iran’s leaders are seen to be scrambling to rally the European Union to find ways to protect European companies — some of which have invested heavily in Iran since the nuclear deal went into effect three years ago — from the reimposed U.S. sanctions.

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