A protest in Tehran against the collapse of the Iranian riyal on foreign exchange markets (AFP)

Washington will move forward with imposing fresh sanctions on corporations operating in Iran, starting as early as next month, despite a European request to hold off, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

In a recent letter sent to European leaders, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to grant waivers to exempt companies working in the country, diplomats told FT.

Instead, according to the diplomats, Pompeo and Mnuchin wrote that the US wanted to create "unprecedented financial pressure" until Iran makes a "tangible, demonstrable and sustained shift" in policies.

The letter was a response to a 6 June request from France, Britain, Germany and the EU sent to US President Donald Trump's administration.

The plea came as European leaders scrambled to save the hard-fought deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015 under which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear capacities in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Trump announced he was abandoning the deal in May, paving the way for new sanctions on the Islamic republic and punitive measures for those who trade with it.

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French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro on Friday that after the US dismissed the European request, he had asked for at least more time before the sanctions kicked in, but that too was rejected.

Washington's refusal came as Trump called Europe a foe in trade and renewed accusations that the EU was taking advantage of the United States.

Analysts say European firms which have rushed to invest in Iran after the lifting of sanctions over the past three years have the most to lose from the renewed sanctions.

Several European companies, including French oil firm Total and Danish shipping group AP Moller-Maersk, have announced in recent months that they would cease commercial activity in Iran over fears of fresh sanctions.

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