The European Union and the United States have been the closest of allies, working together also via North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. But he made clear bigger matters were at stake. The head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that the us duties can not be justified as actions for national security. In response to a poser from a journalist whether China would order its companies to withdraw from Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing might defy the Trump administration.
That was quickly brought home by the French energy giant Total, which joined other European companies in signalling on Wednesday they may exit Iran. Tehran had repeatedly hailed the project as a symbol of the nuclear accord's success.
The bloc that also comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, also plans to begin three years of talks with Iran that aim to create a free trade zone. "It's geopolitics, avoiding escalation, doing everything to open up Iran's economy and society".More news: BSF trooper killed in Pakistan firing in Jammu
But while Europe sees the pact as vital for global security, Trump denounced it as "the worst deal ever" for failing to curb Iran's separate ballistic missile program and its influence in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
Europe's mood is shifting from shock at US President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda to a resolve to close ranks and assert its own position. He reprimanded the European Union, on top of it Berlin, for running a big trade deficit with the US, hinting at America's sacrifices in the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe, mainly Germany, after World War II.
CEO Soren Skou told Reuters on Thursday that A.P. Moller-Maersk was following suit. "I don't know the exact timing details, but I am certain that we're also going to shut down".
But the measures have never been used and may be hard to enforce, while European Union companies could still face asset seizures, fines and possibly criminal charges in the US.
"We must never take these long-held allies for granted", he told to graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, in an apparent reference to Trump overruling the advice of his former top diplomat and others over Iran and threatening import tariffs.More news: Sonko Impeachment To Proceed Anyhow Despite Appointing Miguna as DG
Measures could include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran and co-ordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.
Altmaier said the Europeans should discuss this regardless of any exemption.
EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulus has conformed on Wednesday that the EU is fully prepared to pass legislation to block United States sanctions targeting Iran.
The nuclear deal removed most worldwide sanctions in 2016 in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.More news: United Europe plots to bypass Trump sanctions on Iran