The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlights Iran’s gradual withdrawal from the international agreement on its nuclear program and its progress towards the production of uranium metal. What worry the Europeans, who expressed Tuesday their “great concern” on the Iranian nuclear issue.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom said their “great concern about the latest IAEA report which confirms that Iran has started the necessary steps for the production enriched uranium metal. This constitutes a serious violation ”by Tehran of its commitments within the framework of the international agreement on its nuclear program (JCPOA).
The return of the United States to the compromised agreement?
The Europeans say this jeopardizes a return of the United States to the agreement, which is currently being negotiated in Vienna.
Iran intends to “produce uranium metal with an enrichment rate of 20%,” said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday, as negotiations to attempt to saving the nuclear deal is slipping.
Tehran, which has gradually freed itself from its commitments since the United States withdrew from this agreement in 2018, began in February the production of uranium metal for research purposes, a sensitive subject because this material can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. “Iran has no credible civilian need to continue production or R & D activities on uranium metal, which is a key stage in the development of a nuclear weapon,” said the Europeans in their press release.
“With these last steps, Iran poses a risk on the possibility of successfully concluding the talks in Vienna” with a view to a return to the JCPOA, according to the foreign ministers. Talks which, started in April, have stalled. “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, takes office in August after his presidential victory in June.
The United States calls on “Iran to put an end to these provocations”
These negotiations aim to bring the United States back into the fold of the agreement concluded in 2015 in the Austrian capital.
The “joint global action plan” (JCPOA, to use its English acronym) offered Tehran relief from Western and UN sanctions in exchange for its commitment never to acquire atomic weapons and a drastic reduction in its nuclear weapons. nuclear program, placed under strict UN control.
But this pact was torpedoed in 2018 by the decision of former US President Donald Trump to withdraw from it and reinstate American punitive measures. In response, Iran has renounced most of its obligations. The arrival of the new US President Joe Biden has opened the negotiation process underway in Vienna.
The American reaction followed the European press release on Tuesday evening. The United States considered “worrying” that Iran wishes to free itself a little more from its nuclear commitments and called on it to put an end to its “provocations”. “It is worrying that Iran has chosen escalation (…) with experiments which are relevant to the research of nuclear weapons,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.