The ‘E3’ group of leading European powers - France, Germany and the United Kingdom - on Friday 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 had 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.
“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 realize the objectives of the JCPoA,” said the E3 in a statement.
“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 countries said.
It said that under the nuclear deal, Iran committed not to engage in producing or acquiring uranium metal for 15 years.
The nuclear deal aimed to provide a gradual lifting of international sanctions against Iran in exchange for safeguards Tehran would not seek a nuclear weapon.
But it 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 hardliner 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.