In a clear response to the US move, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that the bloc plans to apply a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with any sanctions the US will reintroduce against Tehran, Deutsche Welle reported.
"As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process to activate the 'blocking statute' from 1996," Juncker said during Thursday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria.
He added that the law would be launched Friday morning.
A blocking statute is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder the application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction and is widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on Washington not to punish European firms that continue doing business with Iran.
The other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran have pledged to stick to its terms and urged Tehran to do the same.
During their meeting with their Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif earlier this week, EU foreign ministers discussed how best to keep the nuclear agreement alive without the US.
The Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA,) signed by Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany on July 14, 2015, imposes strict restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the JCPOA unless Congress and America's European allies "fix" it with a follow-up accord.
Iran has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon and accuses Israel of stirring up the world’s suspicions against it.