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Iran: EU failing to save nuclear deal

September 9, 2019

The EU has "failed to act on their promises" within the 2015 nuclear deal, said Iran's atomic energy chief. Germany's foreign minister has warned against escalation of the dispute, saying "everyone must act responsibly."

Iran's Buschehr nuclear plant
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Taherkenareh

Iran's atomic energy chief has slammed European powers, saying the EU's broken agreements have left the country with no option but to reduce its commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal.

"The European Union was supposed to be the replacement of the US but, unfortunately, they failed to act on their promises," Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said Sunday.

"We heard the EU spokesperson say they would be committed to the JCPOA as long as Iran is," he said, referring to the deal by its full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "I am wondering, are they committed to non-adherence? Are they committed to breaking promises? Unfortunately, the Europeans have done this so far."

Read more: What is the EU-Iran payment vehicle INSTEX?

In response, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against any escalation of the nuclear dispute.

"Everyone must act responsibly now, otherwise we risk losing the chance to come to a peaceful resolution," he told the Funke media group in an interview. It would "send a completely wrong signal if Iran halted its compliance" with the agreement, he added, saying Tehran should return to ensuring "full compliance" with the nuclear deal. 

2015 deal a 'one-way street'

In his criticism on Sunday, Salehi said the deal was now just a "one-way street."

"The street was supposed to be two-way. If it's going to be one-way, the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely make the right decisions at the right time like it has done with these three steps," he said.

Salehi spoke to reporters as Cornel Feruta, the acting head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, met with Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, after Iran announced Saturday that it was launching advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at a quicker rate.

The IAEA said "ongoing interactions … require full and timely cooperation by Iran," indicating possible worries about information sharing, according to diplomats.

Read more: Opinion: Iran must save P5+1 nuclear deal — not the EU

Germany, France and the UK have been attempting to salvage the deal after the US withdrew last year and began reimposing punitive measures against the Islamic republic.

France's Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, discussed Iran by telephone on Sunday, speaking "in favor of uniting the efforts of all interested parties in order to preserve the JCPOA and full compliance with it," according to a statement by the Kremlin.

Paris' Elysee palace confirmed that Macron and Putin were in agreement that "all concerned parties" should take "political decisions … to ease tensions."

Third breach

Iran started up 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges on Saturday to boost its stockpile of enriched uranium.

The long-signaled move marks Iran's third breach of the international deal it signed in 2015, under which it agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Read more: Iran-US conflict: Tehran's asymmetrical approach

In July, Iran abandoned two of its commitments under the deal by allowing its stockpile of enriched uranium to exceed the 300-kilogram limit and breaching the cap on the purity of its uranium stocks.

The 2015 deal was struck after concerns from the US and its allies that the nuclear program, which Iran insisted was for civilian use, aimed to produce weapons. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord last year and reimposed sanctions.

mmc/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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