Code: 674002 A

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that Tehran was closing in on an agreement to sell oil to European nations despite US threats of sanctions against any countries that do business with Iran.

Several of those nations openly confronted Trump last week, when he led a UN Security Council meeting about weapons of mass destruction. They argued that he was throwing away the best chance the world has to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons in coming years.

In an hour-long conversation with reporters, Zarif  sounded far more optimistic than he had in recent months that he could peel away America's allies to break Trump's effort to cut off Iran's revenues.

Zarif is capitalising on a renewed enthusiasm among some of the allies to push back at what they term bullying by Washington to sever ties with Iran simply because Trump decided to forsake the nuclear pact. All the other signatories to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia — have vowed to stand by it.

"No sovereign country or organisation can accept that somebody else decides with whom you are allowed to do trade with," Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, said this past week.

At the core of the agreement that Iran and Europe are trying to forge is a mechanism for paying for Iran's oil in barter and local currencies, rather than in U.S. dollars. The idea is to route transactions around the United States and prevent it from blocking financial transfers — and perhaps from identifying those involved in the transactions.

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Europe oil deal
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