European countries do not want to risk contervening US sanctions when they're resumed in the coming months. But the European Union, which supports the Iran nuclear deal, has already made it clear it would take measures to protect its companies.
German authorities have started investigating an Iranian government plan to fly out hundreds of millions of euros from Hamburg to Tehran. German lawmakers have accused the US of "improperly exerting pressure" on Berlin.
With US sanctions looming, European powers hoped to persuade Iran to remain in the 2015 agreement. The countries agreed to continue talks, although Iran's president has said European proposals aren't convincing enough.
The EU has been leading the efforts to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran following the US withdrawal from the international agreement. But the threat of imminent US sanctions is already having an impact on Iranians.
The US said it would impose "unprecedented financial pressure on Iran." The refusal to grant EU businesses an exemption for Iran sanctions pushes Europe and the US further down a collision course over ties to Tehran.
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