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EU agrees 18mn euros in aid for Iran amid efforts to save nuclear deal

The European Union has agreed 18 million in development aid to Tehran as the 28-nation bloc steps up efforts to blunt the impact of returning American sanctions against Iran and keep it in the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal.

According to Press TV, the measure was announced in a statement on Thursday by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who once again reaffirmed Europe’s commitment to joint efforts with Iran to keep the nuclear deal alive without the US.

Washington in May went against international calls and unilaterally scrapped the nuclear agreement, announcing that it would re-impose the anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted under the multilateral accord.

Denouncing the White House’s hostile move, Iran’s other partners to the deal — France, the UK, Germany, Russia and China — vowed efforts to protect the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The EU is currently working to maintain trade ties with Iran. Tehran says it will stay in the deal only if it is able to reap the economic benefits of the sanctions relief under the JCPOA.

Thursday’s aid offer to Iran is part of a broader package of 50 million euros earmarked for Tehran in the EU budget.

In her statement, Mogherini said, “This new package will widen economic and sectoral relations in areas that are of direct benefit to our citizens.”

The new measure will see the EU allocate eight million euros to Iran’s private sector, including assistance for small- and medium-sized enterprises and the country’s Trade Promotion Organization.

Another eight million euros is also slated to be spent on environmental projects, while a further two million euros will go to fighting harm caused by drugs.

Thursday’s move is the latest in a series of measures taken by the EU to meet Iran’s demand for Europe’s “practical strides” in support of the deal.

The European Union has been planning to open bank accounts for Iran to facilitate direct transactions with the country and non-reliance on the American financial system.

Earlier this week, Germany said the European countries need to adopt payment systems independent of the US if they seek to keep the JCPOA in place.

In turn, the UK reopened a bank account of the Iranian Embassy in the country, which had been blocked over international sanctions on Iran since 2009.