European Union and Iran foreign ministers meet in Brussels to support nuclear deal

Trump Faces Pivotal Decisions on Iran Sanctions

The European Union and Tehran are expected to show support for Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers at a foreign ministers' meeting on January 11 while the White House is deciding whether to continue backing the agreement.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called on the U.S. to consider the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a separate issue from Tehran's ballistic weapons program and its role in Syria's civil war.

European allies have warned of a split with the US over the nuclear agreement and say if Washington reimposes sanctions on Iran, the pact could fall apart.

While hawks in Washington have called for the agreement to be scrapped, British foreign minister Boris Johnson said that so far no-one has come up with a better alternative.

The EU and other world powers have repeatedly warned it would be a mistake to abandon the deal, thrashed out with Iran over 12 years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russian Federation.

Any U.S. disruption to the deal could shake oil markets, according to a report by Citigroup's global commodities team published Tuesday.

Iran has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, leading the Islamic Republic to imprison thousands of people.

Some analysts have argued that a full Trump administration withdrawal from the deal could be disastrous for US relations with European allies, who've sought more eagerly than Washington to invest in Iran over the past two years.

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"Any move that undermines JCPOA is unacceptable", he said in a post on his official Twitter feed.

Some analysts are quick to note that the Iran deal as it is written does not preclude the United States or other world powers from exacting new sanctions against Iranian officials or entities - as long as the new sanctions are not tied to the nuclear dispute.

Under the agreement, Iran has agreed to dramatically reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and cut the number of gas centrifuges it operates to produce the nuclear ingredient, with strict limits on other nuclear technologies like heavy water.

"The deal is working ... keeping Iran's nuclear program in check", Mogherini said at a press conference.

Trump will have a series of decisions to make on the deal in the days following the first waiver deadline on Friday.

"Iran is ready to increase the speed of its nuclear activities in various areas, especially enrichment, several times more than [in the] pre-JCPOA [nuclear deal] era", Behrooz Kamalvandi, the deputy chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told Iranian national TV on Wednesday.

It's not clear whether Congress will live up to the administration's hope for new legislation authorizing more the more targeted sanctions or other changes to the US commitments under the deal.

United States officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Mr Trump was expected to extend the sanctions relief for another 120 days. Jack Straw, a former British foreign secretary, who returned from a trip to Tehran earlier this week, conceded the leadership appeared rattled.

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