Germany, France and Britain urge Iran to stop enriching uranium up to 20% “without delay”.
Germany, France and Great Britain have declared themselves “deeply concerned” by Iran’s decision to intensify its uranium enrichment, warning of “very significant” risks.
Iran said on Tuesday it was now refining uranium to 20 percent purity, the biggest departure to date from its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran’s increase in uranium enrichment has sparked international concern as it is seen as a significant step towards the 90% level required for a nuclear weapon.
The purpose of the deal was to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon – something Tehran insists it does not want to do.
“This action, which has no credible civilian justification and involves very significant risks linked to proliferation, is in flagrant violation of Iran’s commitments,” the European trio said on Wednesday.
“We urge Iran to stop enriching uranium up to 20% without delay, to reverse its enrichment program within the limits agreed in the [agreement] and to refrain from any further escalation that would further reduce the space for effective diplomacy. “
The historic 2015 agreement between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union has been unraveling since President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions against Iran.
Earlier this week, the European Union warned that Iran’s move would be a “significant deviation” from Tehran’s commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal and would have “serious implications for non- nuclear proliferation.
New US administration
The three European signatories to the deal, known as E3, warned in their statement that Tehran’s latest move “risks jeopardizing the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the new US administration.”
The Iranian government has indicated it is ready to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has expressed willingness to return to diplomacy with Tehran.
A decision to start enriching to 20% purity ten years ago almost sparked an Israeli strike targeting Iranian nuclear facilities.
Tensions only subsided with the 2015 agreement, which saw Iran limit its enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.