German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Berlin and Beijing, both signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, are standing by the multilateral accord after Washington’s withdrawal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is officially called, “is far from ideal but other options are even less stable,” Merkel said during a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Thursday.
“That is why we will continue to respect this agreement,” she added.
Germany and China have both decried US President Donald Trump’s decision to walk away from the JCPOA and are trying to find ways to protect the companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions.
Angela Merkel further highlighted Beijing’s future role to fill in the trade vacuum after the re-imposition of economic bans against Iran.
“Sanctions will likely lead some European companies to pull out of Iran,” she added.
On May 8, Trump announced Washington’s pullout from the Iran nuclear deal, vowing to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
In a recent speech that laid out the Trump administration’s new strategy on Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” if it does not comply with a list of 12 US demands.
Germany says that Europe is still “very, very united” on continuing to support Iran’s nuclear deal.
Iran has said it would make a decision on its future role in the JCPOA in the coming weeks following negotiations with the other signatories of the agreement.
Tehran also wants the European parties to give assurances that Iran’s interests would still be protected under a deal without the US.
In the first measure to protect the deal, the European Commission activated last week the Blocking Statute to neutralize the effect of US bans on Iran. The law, which was adopted in 1996, makes it illegal for any European Union company to comply with US sanctions.
Merkel is on a two-day visit to China at the head of a delegation of government and business leaders. She is set to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Thursday and visit the technology hub Shenzhen on Friday.