President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal risks exposing European countries that have since invested in Iran to renewed US sanctions after "wind-down" periods of three to six months expire. The French leader reiterated his concerns over the influence that the USA move could have on the situation in the Middle East in the recent phone talks with his U.S. counterpart.
Washington has given European firms doing business in Iran up to six months to wind up investments or risk U.S. sanctions and they are also forbidden from signing any new contracts with Iran.
Trump spoke yesterday with President Emmanuel Macron of France to discuss ways to ensure reciprocal and balanced trade.
Asked on arrival at a summit of European Union leaders in Bulgaria if he was concerned about an announcement by French oil major Total that it may pull out of Iran after Washington pulled out of an EU-backed nuclear accord, Macron said it was up to firms active in various markets to make their own decisions.
Germany plans to offer legal advice to help its firms continue to do business in Iran, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier also said on Friday. But the severity of Washington's stance has raised doubts about their viability.
He also noted that France would not impose sanctions or counter-sanctions against USA companies, because "it makes no sense". "The Europeans should not have to pay for the withdrawal of an agreement by the United States, to which they had themselves contributed".