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Foreign ministries in Germany, France and the UK react to the latest UN nuclear watchdog report. The increased enrichment activities could jeopardize a potential US return to a nuclear deal with Iran.
The start of a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with foreign ministers and the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog in front of the flags of remaining signatories in Vienna in May
The foreign ministries of Germany, France and the UK expressed "grave concern" on Thursday over the latest report from the UN's nuclear watchdog on recent developments in Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities.
The European foreign ministries' joint statement comes in light of a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that Iran continues to produce uranium metal which can be used in the production of a nuclear bomb.
The European trio said that these "serious violations" were the source of "grave concern".
The IAEA confirmed earlier this week that Iran had enriched uranium metal up to 20% for the first time and had significantly increased production capacity of uranium enriched to 60%.
The joint statement from the German, French and British foreign ministries noted that "both are key steps in the development of a nuclear weapon and Iran has no credible civilian need for either measure."
In 2015, Iran signed on to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which promised economic incentives to Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The US, Russia, China, France, Germany, the UK and Iran were party to the talks.
The US unilaterally pulled out from the agreement in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. Since then, Tehran has been steadily increasing its violations of the deal while the US has reimposed some of the sanctions lifted as part of the accord.
"Our concerns are deepened by the fact that Iran has significantly limited IAEA access through withdrawing from JCPOA-agreed monitoring arrangements," the European countries said on Thursday.
There have been months of talks in Vienna with the remaining parties of the JCPOA shuttling between delegations from Iran and the US.
Official cars are seen outside Grand Hotel Wien after a session meeting on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna in May
The Biden administration has expressed interest in rejoining the agreement but has insisted Iran needs to return to abiding by the limitations imposed on its nuclear program. Iran by contrast insists the US must first drop all sanctions.
The German, French and UK foreign ministries wrote in their joint statement, "Iran's activities are all the more troubling given the fact talks in Vienna have been interrupted upon Tehran's request for two months now and that Iran has not yet committed to a date for their resumption."
"While refusing to negotiate, Iran is instead establishing facts on the ground which make a return to the JCPOA more complicated," the statement added.
Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Iran's actions were "unconstructive and inconsistent with return to mutual compliance.''
ar/msh (AP, Reuters)