In a setback for the United States' attempts to isolate Iran, a European Union court threw out sanctions Friday on seven Iranian companies, including four banks, rejecting arguments that they were acting as front companies to bypass the punitive measures.

The General Court in Brussels, the union's second-highest tribunal, ruled that the bloc wrongly imposed sanctions against the Iranian companies as part of its efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a decision that immediately drew the ire of American officials.

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