White House Open to Sanctioning European Companies That Do Business With Iran

A building bearing an anti-US slogan is seen in the Iranian capital Tehran

These questions get at the heart of whether the Iran nuclear deal can continue without the support of the US.

"Our trade with New Zealand is the importing dairy products from NZ, if they want to impose sanctions then they must ban the companies from exporting the commodities to Iran".

Bolton expressed optimism that European allies will follow Trump's lead and exit the deal, despite the assertions of the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany that they intend to remain in the agreement.

New Zealand exported $120 million of goods to Iran past year, with dairy products making up three-quarters of that.

National security adviser John Bolton said Sunday he believes European nations will ultimately join the US and leave the Iran nuclear agreement.

Bolton went further in an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC's "This Week". 'We conduct business in all countries, including Iran, in accordance with all relevant UK, EU or other national sanctions and export control regulations'.

President Hassan Rouhani had said on Tuesday that Tehran would remain in the deal, provided its benefits stayed in force with its remaining signatories.

"The extent to which we can keep this deal alive ... is something we need to discuss with Iran", said Merkel, who earlier spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue.

Le Maire said he was seeking concrete exemptions for countries already present in Iran, including Renault, Total, Sanofi, Danone and Peugeot. Bolton, asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, told CNN: "It's possible".

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The U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 deal was "a violation of morals", he said.

Despite the U.S. exit, Britain and Iran expressed their commitment to ensuring that the accord is upheld, according to a statement released by British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

Europe seemed to have realized Trump's plan to come up with a better deal is not feasible, considering the long and turbulent history of the JCPOA, and given the current situation, if not fixed promptly, the region might face the risk of a war or a nuclear arms race.

Germany said it would spend the next few months trying to persuade Washington to change its mind.

Responding to the US move, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, said Europe should not accept the former as the "world's economic policeman", or become nations that "obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their pants".

"I'm not the national security decision-maker", Bolton said, adding that Trump "makes the decision and the advice that I give him is between us".

The American government has already blocked USA firms from doing deals in Iran, following the President's rejection of the deal last week.

In an interview with ZDF public television, Altmaier noted the United States had set a 90-day deadline for foreign firms to comply with the return of sanctions and that this period could be used to convince Washington to change course.

"I think at the moment there's some feeling in Europe - they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions".

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