By Diane Cooke
The UK has agreed to work with the EU to try to block the impact of Donald Trump's new sanctions against Iran.
Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, signed a joint statement with other EU foreign ministers to ensure European companies doing business with Iran will be protected.
The ministers promised to introduce a "blocking statute" to ban European firms from abiding by the US sanctions, which were reimposed by Mr Trump on Monday.
The US president decided to reintroduce the penalties after withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
However, an Oxford academic writing for Russia Today says the statute is useless. John Laughland says the legislative measure has hardly ever been used before because it does not work.
He wrotes: "Even the Brussels panjandrums admit that it is useless: one of them was quoted as saying, 'It is a political signal given by the EU. It is not a miracle cure.' In other words, this statute will not protect European firms against US sanctions. Hundreds of them are already making for the exit from Iran if they have not already done so. Included among these are some of the biggest industries in the world, the French oil giant Total, and Airbus, whose contracts worth billions have just gone up in smoke thanks to the US president."
AlJazeera says the move is certain to worsen the lives of ordinary Iranians, as President Hassan Rouhani described the controversial reimposition as "psychological warfare".
In an early morning tweet, Trump said the new US penalties against Iran were "the most biting sanctions ever imposed".
"In November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" he said.
The Iranian government had fully lived up to its commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, which the administration of US President Donald Trump pulled out of in May.
EU ministers said the Iran deal was "crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world".
Rouhani praised Europe for "resisting the Americans" in its call "to join the regime of sanctions".
Sanctions have been imposed on Iran's trade in gold and precious metals; the sale or transfer of other metals like aluminum, steel, or coal; transactions related to Iran's currency, the rial; the issuance of Iranian sovereign debt; the purchase or acquisition of US dollars by Iran; and perhaps most bitingly, on Iran's automotive sector.
More importantly though, this is a sign that the US administration intends to fully enforce sanctions, as one senior administration official said Monday, ahead of the November 4 deadline when the more consequential sanctions go into effect. Those target Iranian oil and the Central Bank of Iran, among others.