Iran Nuclear Deal: Signatories to Defy Trump Sanctions With New Payment System

The remaining signatories to the controversial Iran nuclear deal—the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union—will defy President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Tehran, according to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Following a meeting of the group's representatives at the United Nations General Assembly Monday, Mogherini said European nations would establish a new payment system enabling companies to keep trading with the regime, the BBC reported.

Exactly how the system would work has not yet been revealed, but it would allow oil companies and other firms to trade in Iran without relying on U.S. systems or the dollar.

Mogherini made the announcement jointly with Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister. The two diplomats, reading a statement in both English and Farsi, said they were determined to "protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran."

Mogherini explained that technical experts would work out details of the payment mechanisms, though experts suggested an alternative system might not be viable if the U.S. did not modify its sanctions to fit the new arrangement, the BBC said.

Trump, who had opposed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement since its inception, had been uncompromising on U.S. withdrawal from the deal. Though he repeatedly claimed he could negotiate a better deal, there was no sign of new negotiations between Washington and Tehran.

The deal placed tough restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling international sanctions. As part of the deal, international inspectors were given access to Iran's nuclear production facilities.

Representatives of the signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, including European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (fourth from left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (third from right), arrive for a picture after the last plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Despite a consensus that Iran was indeed adhering to the terms of the deal, Trump withdrew from it, claiming it did not go far enough. The president wanted to renegotiate it to include checks on Tehran's regional influence—notably its role in foreign conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq—and its ballistic missile program.

Though Iranian officials have refused to consider broadening the agreement, the White House believes economic pressure could bring Iranian leaders to the negotiating table.

And if not, senior administration officials suggested the U.S. could pursue a regime change. With withdrawal came fresh sanctions from the U.S., and the White House warned its European allies and foreign companies that those who remained active in the country could be targeted too.

Meanwhile, the other signatories have scrambled to save the deal out of fear that complete collapse would push Tehran back toward its nuclear weapons research. Iran's leaders have suggested that if the deal failed, it would have no reason to maintain its atomic slowdown.

With Iran's theocratic government already facing mass opposition over political repression, a faltering economy, collapsing currency and poor living standards, the regime's hold on power looks far from secure.

On Saturday, gunmen attacked a Revolutionary Guard Corps parade in the southwestern city of Ahwaz, killing at least 29 and wounding more than 70. The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing a video purportedly showing the four gunmen on the way to launch their assault.

Iran blamed its regional rivals—the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel—of allowing the attack to take place and vowed to take revenge.