TEHRAN - Iran urged European countries on Saturday to speed up their efforts to preserve Iran’s interests under the nuclear deal from which the United States withdrew in May.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized what he called the slow pace of the European Union (EU) to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), urging accelerated efforts in this regard, Tasnim news agency reported.

Zarif was alluding to the EU’s impending legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran in the face of US sanctions.

On Friday, Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, also criticized the “slow” pace of EU in developing mechanism to keep Iran’s trade with its European partners amid the recent US full-scale sanctions.

“Their political stances (against the US sanctions) have been very good,” but “they have so far failed to bring about operational approaches and meet our expectations,” said Araqchi. Washington withdrew from Iran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May and imposed second batch of sanctions against Tehran on Monday, targeting Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors.

Iran relies heavily on the European’s assistance against the US pull out of the nuclear deal and their promises to guarantee Iran’s interests predicted under the 2015 accord.

The EU has stressed that it would set up a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran in light of the US withdrawal from the international agreement.

The legal entity will allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance with the EU law and could be open to other partners in the world, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, said in September.