The United Kingdom, France and Germany have condemned Iran’s decision to produce uranium metal, which they said was in breach of commitments made by Iran to the international community.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said earlier this week that Iran had followed through on its plan to make uranium metal, after Tehran had alarmed Western nations with its intent to produce the material with which the core of nuclear weapons can be made.
There have been hopes that the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers could be revived through new talks under the administration of United States President Joe Biden, after his predecessor Donald Trump walked out of the deal in 2018.
The European trio, who are signatories to the deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), said in a joint statement on Friday that Iran’s move to produce uranium metal was a violation of the accord that endangers the chance to fully realise the deal, which aims to reduce international sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits to its nuclear programme
“We strongly urge Iran to halt these activities without delay and not to take any new non-compliant steps on its nuclear programme. In escalating its non-compliance, Iran is undermining the opportunity for renewed diplomacy to fully realise the objectives of the JCPOA,” said the European trio in a statement.
The IAEA report
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, said on Wednesday Iran has started producing uranium metal, in a fresh breach of the limits laid out in the 2015 deal.
“We reiterate that Iran has no credible civilian justification for these activities, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,” the statement by the three European countries said.
It said that under the nuclear deal, Iran committed not to engage in producing or acquiring uranium metal for 15 years.
“We strongly urge Iran to halt these activities without delay and not to take any new non-compliant steps on its nuclear programme,” Europe’s leading powers said.
The nuclear deal has been essentially moribund since the US pulled out, with Tehran stepping up its nuclear work in violation of the accord as retaliation.
Analysts have said only a narrow window of opportunity exists this year to bring the United States back on board.
The Biden administration is impatient to move fast, while the prospect of a conservative candidate winning an Iranian presidential election later this year is also looming large.
However, it will require the most delicate diplomacy to move forward, with the White House insisting Iran must move to full compliance before the US can return to the deal, but Tehran wanting no preconditions.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday said he was disappointed with the Biden administration over the lack of progress to date.
“We have still not seen any goodwill from the new government,” Rouhani told state television.