Efforts to save the Vienna International Accord seem a little more compromised. Tehran has decided to free itself further from its nuclear commitments, causing concern among Americans and Europeans on Tuesday, July 6.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report consulted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Iran had “Produce uranium metal with an enrichment rate of 20%”, in violation of its international commitments. “Operations have started”, confirmed the representative of Iran to the UN agency, Kazem Gharibabadi, quoted by the Iranian agency Irna, assuring that they were aimed at improving “The production of pharmaceutical products”.
But Westerners fear that, under the guise of scientific research, Iran is seeking to acquire atomic weapons. “It is worrying that Iran has chosen escalation (…) with experiences that are relevant for the search for nuclear weapons”, commented State Department spokesman Ned Price during a press briefing, calling on him to put an end to this « provocation ».
“Iran has no credible civilian need to pursue uranium metal production or research and development, which is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.”, added the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, announcing in a joint statement their “Great concern”.
“A new step backwards”
The Vienna Iran nuclear deal was undermined in 2018 with the withdrawal of the United States under Donald Trump and the reinstatement of American sanctions. In response, Iran has renounced part of its commitments. Upon his arrival at the White House in January, Joe Biden announced his intention to return to this agreement and negotiations resumed in April in the Austrian capital between the signatory countries to define the framework for this return. But in February, Tehran imposed restrictions on IAEA verifications and began production of uranium metal for research, a sensitive issue because the material can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
By now deciding to switch to a higher enrichment rate, “Iran poses a risk to the possibility of successfully concluding the Vienna talks”, said the European ministers.
“This is another step backwards from Iran as we have shown our sincere intention to return” in the Vienna agreement, also commented Ned Price. “Such provocations will not give Iran any leverage in the discussions”, he added, calling the Islamic republic “To put an end to this escalation, to return to Vienna for real negotiations, and to be ready to finish the work started in April”.
These talks are currently at a standstill. “They will not resume this week”, according to a European diplomat contacted by AFP who says he has no visibility, while the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raïssi, an ultra-conservative, takes office in August.