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EU plans to shield its companies if Trump ditches Iran deal

[BRUSSELS] The European Union said it has plans to protect the region's companies if President Donald Trump announces later on Tuesday that he's pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, a move that could further strain trans-Atlantic ties over foreign policy.

"We are working on plans to protect the interests of European companies" Maja Kocijancic, EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs, told reporters in Brussels.

She declined to elaborate further pending the US president's statement. "We don't know what Mr Trump is going to announce," she said.

European governments have pressed the US administration to preserve the international nuclear agreement while they negotiate side-deals to address Mr Trump's main concerns.

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"The agreement is very important for global security," said Ms Kocijancic, stressing that the pact - formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - has strict monitoring and verification provisions.

"The JCPOA is not based on assumptions of good faith or trust," Ms Kocijancic said. "It's based on facts, on concrete commitments, on verification mechanisms, on very strict monitoring."

If the US refuses to keep waiving sanctions under the Iran deal, that could lead to complications and confusion for international companies doing business in the region. The companies may be subject to US sanctions if they continue doing business with Iran.

"Depending on how severe and immediate US withdrawal will turn out, the EU should establish procedures that allow European companies to trade with Iran to entice Tehran to stay in the deal," said Cornelius Adebahr, a fellow at Carnegie Europe. "This includes setting up euro-denominated credit lines and clearing-houses that can green-light legitimate business with Iran."

EU officials met with Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi on Tuesday in Brussels, hours before Mr Trump's planned statement.

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