European powers rebuke Iran after enrichment announcement

Since May last year, Iran has taken steps that violate its uranium enrichment limit laid down in the JCPOA deal.

A handout picture released by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization on November 4, 2019, shows shows the atomic enrichment facilities Natanz nuclear power plant, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of capital Tehran [AFP/ HO/Atomic Energy Organization of Iran]

France, Britain and Germany said on Monday they were “deeply concerned” by an Iranian announcement that it intended to install additional advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges and a parliamentary law that could expand its nuclear programme.

“If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps,” the three powers said in a joint statement.

The three governments, dubbed the E3, said the plans were contrary to a 2015 agreement between Tehran and world powers that aimed to restrain Iran’s nuclear programme by barring sophisticated centrifuges.

The deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is the best and currently the only way to monitor and constrain Iran’s nuclear programme, the three countries said.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported last month that Iran had installed and begun operating advanced centrifuges at an underground section at Natanz.

“Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the JCPoA and deeply worrying,” the E3 said.

Under the terms of Iran’s 2015 deal, it is only meant to enrich uranium with a less sophisticated variety of centrifuges.

However, since May last year, Iran has taken steps to violate that limit and several others laid down in the deal in retaliation for US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and subsequent reimposition of sanctions.

Source: News Agencies