Britain, France and Germany ‘deeply concerned’ over Iran’s move to enrich uranium
Agencies | London
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Germany, France and Britain yesterday said they were “deeply concerned” about Iran’s move to step up its uranium enrichment, warning of “very significant” risks. Tehran on Tuesday said it was now refining uranium to 20% purity, the biggest break yet from its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers.
“This action, which has no credible civil justification and carries very significant proliferation-related risks, is in clear violation of Iran’s commitments under the pact,” the European trio said in a statement. “It also risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US Administration.” “We strongly urge Iran to stop enriching uranium to up to 20% without delay,” they added.
Iran’s increased uranium enrichment has triggered international concern because it is seen as a significant step towards the 90% level required for a nuclear weapon. The landmark 2015 deal agreed between Iran and the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany has been fraying since President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.
The Iranian government has signalled a readiness to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has expressed willingness to return to diplomacy with Tehran and who takes office on January 20. The agreement’s main aim was to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to at least a year from roughly two to three months.
European diplomats have said Iran’s repeated breaches have already reduced the “breakout time” to well below a year. The three European signatories to the deal, known as E3, cautioned in their statement that Tehran’s latest move “risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US administration.” “It’s their tactical objective to pressure the Biden administration, but at one point if you fill the boat up too much it sinks,” said one European diplomat, adding that for now the three powers would wait for the new US administration to assess the situation. “If we threw the accord out of the window then it would be even harder to put back together again.”