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Senators Warn Europe Against Flouting U.S. Iran Sanctions

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on nominations on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.

A group of Republican senators on Thursday warned European nations not to try to flout U.S. sanctions on Iran that will soon be re-imposed after President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear accord.

The 10 senators, all of whom opposed the 2015 agreement, said in a letter to the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany that they would be "particularly troubled" by any efforts to evade or undermine the sanctions. They said attempts to do so could be met by congressional action. A first set of U.S. sanctions lifted by the Obama administration under the terms of the nuclear deal is to be restored on Aug. 4. A second set will be re-imposed on Nov. 4.

The senators, including outspoken Iran deal critics Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, noted that the sanctions are matters of U.S. law and had been eased only because the previous administration had approved of the deal, which Trump pulled out of in May.

"We write to urge you to comply with all American sanctions but also to emphasize we would find it particularly troubling if you sought to evade or undermine American statutes," the senators wrote. "These laws were passed by Congress, signed by President Obama and will be enforced by President Trump."

"Any attempt to evade or subvert them could well prompt congressional action, in coordination with other elements of the U.S. government, to ensure their integrity," they said.

Britain, France and Germany — along with China, Russia, the European Union and Iran itself — were the other parties to the nuclear deal that was one of former President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievements. Trump campaigned against the agreement, which he has called the worst deal ever negotiated by the United States, and followed through on that pledge to the anger of the other parties who remain in it.

Some European officials, who believe the deal is vital for the security of the continent, have suggested trying to work around the re-imposed U.S. sanctions to preserve the deal. Those sanctions would penalize foreign governments or firms, including financial institutions, that do business with Iran.