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Iran, Russia, European Powers Vow To Uphold Nuclear Deal Without U.S.


U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 8.

Iran, Russia, and the European powers that signed a 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran have vowed to keep honoring the deal despite a U.S. decision to pull out, but the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump says it is working to make that difficult.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had ordered his diplomats to negotiate with China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany in the coming weeks to determine whether Iran can keep benefiting from cooperation from those countries, which have all pledged to continue honoring the deal.

"If we achieve the deal's goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place," Rouhani said, although he also warned that Iran was ready to resume nuclear activities curbed under the deal in exchange for sanctions relief if the U.S. withdrawal made it impossible for Iran's economy to continue benefiting.

"We will not allow Trump to win this psychological war," Rouhani said.

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Russia and the European powers also vowed to stick with the deal, with leading U.S. allies in Europe calling on Washington not to do anything to undermine their commitment to keeping the deal in place.

European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini called on Iran to "stay true to your commitments as we will stay true to ours, and together with the rest of the international community we will preserve this nuclear deal."

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A Russian diplomat said the deal remains in effect as long as Iran continues to honor it, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all countries to "abide fully" by the deal, which he called a "major achievement."

In a joint statement, Britain, France, and Germany called on the United States to "ensure the structures of the [deal] can remain intact, and avoid taking actions which obstruct its full implementation by all other parties to the deal."

But top U.S. officials were already working to stymie efforts by European powers to go ahead with business deals they undertook when sanctions on Iran were lifted in 2016.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he was revoking the licenses not only for the sale of hundreds of passenger planes to Iran by the U.S. aircraft giant Boeing, but by Europe's Airbus plane manufacturer as well.

IranAir had ordered 200 passenger aircraft: 100 from Airbus, 80 from Boeing, and 20 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR. All the deals are dependent on U.S. licenses because of the heavy use of U.S. parts in commercial planes.

The Treasury also gave other companies that are doing business with Iran 90 to 180 days to wind down their existing contracts, in a far-reaching order that has the potential to affect major global companies, including General Electric, Volkswagen, Total, Peugeot Citroen, British Airways, Accor, and Lufthansa.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, advised German companies doing business with Iran to "wind down operations immediately" in a post on Twitter.

"U.S. sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately," he wrote.

Germany is one of Iran's largest trading partners, with German exports to Iran hitting some 2.6 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in 2016, up 26 percent from the previous year, according to the Finance Ministry in Berlin.

In abruptly pulling the United States out of the deal, Trump had vowed that the United States would resume a sanctions regime against Tehran that would be as tough as possible.

"We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions," he said.

Trump said his goal was to "work with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat," but none of the other world powers that signed the 2015 agreement stepped forward on May 8 to go down the path of negotiating a new deal.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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