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EU to launch legal process to prevent US bans from affecting businesses in Iran

The European Commission is set to launch a legal process based on a powerful law to block American sanctions against Iran as European Union powers mobilize to save the landmark 2015 nuclear deal following Washington’s unilateral pullout.

According to Press TV, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the EU’s executive body, said Thursday that the Commission will begin the process of activating Blocking Statute at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

The Statute, which was adopted in 1996, refers to a law that makes it illegal for any European Union company to comply with US sanctions.

“As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies,” Junker told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Sofia, Bulgaria.

“We also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation will Iran,” he added.

Speaking at the same press conference, President of the European Council Donald Tusk also noted that the 28-nation bloc will remain committed to the Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite Washington’s much-criticized decision to abandon the multilateral agreement.

The EU, he added, has instructed the European Commission to defend the interests of European firms dealing with Tehran from US sanctions if needed.

Iran has said the European sides must give assurances that its economic interests would still be met under the deal, which removed the economic sanctions against Tehran in early 2016 in exchange for Tehran to limit certain aspects of its nuclear program.

Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif embarked on a diplomatic tour of China, Russia and Brussels for talks on the JCPOA’s future.

In Brussels, the top Iranian diplomat hailed talks with the European Union as a “good start,” adding, “We are on the right track … a lot will depend on what we can do in next few weeks.”