Boris Johnson will meet French and German counterparts to discuss measures to protect European countries working in Iran against the danger of US sanctions after Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the international nuclear deal.
After talks with French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian in London, the Foreign Secretary said Britain stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Paris on the need to preserve the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The plan removed sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran giving up its military nuclear programme.
The meeting comes amid fears that European companies may face reprisals from the US for breaching American sanctions by continuing to operate in Iran.
Speaking alongside Mr le Drian, Mr Johnson said: “The UK and France are determined to conserve the essence of the Iran nuclear deal.
“It is a trade-off and a sensible trade-off and… it is the only really workable way we can see to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon.
“The advantages from the Iranians’ point of view is that they should have some benefits from economic participation and economic engagement with us in the west.
“I’m not going to pretend to you now that it will be easy but we are determined to do that and – as far as we possibly can – to protect our businesses from the effects of American primary and secondary sanctions.“
Mr Johnson said that there remained a few months before the impact of American sanctions would be felt, adding that this gave “a margin to work on our response“.
The Foreign Secretary stressed: “That doesn’t mean we are in any sense not going to be working with the Americans.
“They have decided to pull out, we don’t think that is necessarily the right thing to do, given that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, so we want to hear a little bit more from Washington about their proposals.“
Mr le Drian described the preservation of the JCPOA as “the only way to fight against the risk of proliferation”.
He said Iran was “respecting“ the terms of the agreement, “so we are going to stick to this agreement“.
“We want to be sure that companies are protected from the American sanctions and Iran benefits from the dividends, “he said.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May used a telephone call with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to restate Britain’s commitment to upholding the Iran nuclear deal, but condemned Tehran’s missile attacks against Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.