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EU commits millions to shore up Iranian economy

Brussels – The European Commission has earmarked 18 million euros (20.9 million dollars) for projects supporting Tehran's economic and social development, as part of efforts to uphold the Iran nuclear deal following the reimposition of US sanctions.

The European Union is trying to keep alive the agreement, aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb by removing sanctions on Tehran and offering economic incentives, after US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the accord.

Part of a wider package

The EU is "committed to sustain" the 2015 nuclear deal, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Thursday. "This new package will widen economic and sectoral relations in areas that are of direct benefit to our citizens," she added.

The projects are part of a wider package of 50 million euros to address social and economic challenges in Iran, agreed in the wake of the 2015 deal.

The funding includes 8 million euros in private sector assistance, notably to support small and medium-sized enterprises showing high potential, the commission said in a statement.

Another 8 million euros will go towards tackling environmental challenges and 2 million euros have been earmarked to help reduce drug harm.

More US sanctions expected in autumn

Earlier this month, the United States reimposed sanctions targeting the Iranian financial system, including Iranian government purchases of US dollars, gold trade and government bond sales.

More sanctions are due in November, including measures to prevent Iran from selling oil.

Trump argues that the nuclear deal, negotiated by Britain, France Germany, Russia, China and the US, fails to block Tehran's path to a nuclear weapon. However, the other countries say it has been serving its purpose.