France, UK, Germany ‘regret’ US end to three Iran nuclear waivers

European countries criticise US decision to end measures that allowed work designed to prevent weapons development.

Iran US flags
Iran is enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent in violation of the nuclear deal limit [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

France, Germany and the United Kingdom have criticised a United States decision to end three of its four sanctions waivers allowing work on Iranian nuclear sites designed to prevent weapons development.

The scrapped waivers had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to work on the conversion of Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor, the provision of enriched uranium for a Tehran research reactor, and the transfer of spent fuel abroad.

“We deeply regret the US decision to end the three waivers,” the three European countries said in a joint statement on Saturday.

“These projects, endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, serve the non-proliferation interests of all and provide the international community with assurances of the exclusively peaceful and safe nature of Iranian nuclear activities.”

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a waiver for work at the Bushehr nuclear power station would be the only one extended.

He also imposed sanctions on two officials with Iran’s atomic energy organisation, Majid Aghai and Amjad Sazgar, who are involved in the development and production of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Since the US’s withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, Tehran has gradually taken steps away from the accord and started injecting uranium gas into more than a thousand centrifuges.

The Iranian government says the steps could be reversed if Europe offers a way for it to avoid US sanctions choking off its crude oil sales abroad.

Iran is also enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent in violation of the accord’s limit of 3.67 percent. Enriched uranium at the 3.67 percent level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.

At the 4.5 percent level, it is enough to help power Iran’s Bushehr reactor, the country’s only nuclear power plant. Prior to the nuclear deal, Iran had reached up to 20 percent.

Source: News Agencies