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The foreign ministers of the European Union and Iran have said their scheduled talks in Brussels on January 11 will focus on preserving Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which is seen as under threat from the United States.

Britain, France and Germany called on Donald Trump on Thursday to uphold a pact curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions on the eve of a sanctions ruling by the US president they fear could torpedo an accord he has relentlessly criticised.

Iran has ratcheted up threats to end cooperation on curbing its suspect nuclear programs if the administration refuses to waive the sanctions, a move that would effectively pull Washington out of the multilateral deal that Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation all agreed to with Tehran.

Trump faces deadlines related to the deal starting late this week, including deciding whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the 2015 agreement.

The decision to stay in the deal, at least for now, comes as its critics and proponents argue over whether recent antigovernment protests in Iran show that the worldwide accord has helped, or hurt, the Islamic Republic's authoritarian clerical leadership.

Zarif did not join the post-meeting press conference but tweeted: "Strong consensus in Brussels today: 1) Iran is complying with #JCPOA, 2) Iranian people have every right to all its dividends, 3) Any move that undermines JCPOA is unacceptable".

Washington has been more forthright than Europe in supporting the protests and implying that regime change is a realistic possibility.

Iran says the missiles it has tested are not created to carry nuclear warheads and insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany threw their weight behind the pact limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions and insisted that the Islamic Republic is respecting it. "We are not convinced that Europeans can support their own companies against the U.S. and encourage them to work with Iran in case the United States sanctions are back". Or, as a worst case scenario, on encouraging Iran to stay the course, even if the U.S. pulls out of the deal.

"We know that it's absolutely necessary to have the signal that it's possible by diplomatic approaches to prevent the development of nuclear weapons, in a time when other parts of the world are discussing how to get nuclear weapons into force", said the German foreign minister, adding that it would send "a very unsafe signal to the rest of the world" if the only agreement that prevents the proliferation of nuclear weapons would be negatively affected.

But this will be the first time the president is faced with the decision since announcing his new Iran strategy in dramatic fashion last October - when he threatened to terminate the deal unless Congress made some "fixes".

The US president has repeatedly referred to the JCPOA as "the worst deal ever" and accused Iran of violating it, despite assurances from worldwide observers that the country is complying. As is customary, the Secretary of State has been designated to sign the waivers, so Rex Tillerson will be the one to notify Congress of the administration's decision Friday - but only after Trump consults with his national security team and makes the final call.

"The United States will continue to decisively counter the Iranian regime's malign activity, including additional sanctions targeting human rights abuses", Mnuchin said.