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Europe: ‘Serious doubts’ Iran wants nuke deal; program ‘way beyond’ civilian purpose

In joint statement, France, Germany and UK say they are at ‘the limit of flexibility’ while Tehran escalates its nuclear program ‘way beyond any plausible civilian justification’

This September 1, 2014 file photo, shows a nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
This September 1, 2014 file photo, shows a nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

BERLIN, Germany — European powers on Saturday raised “serious doubts” over Iran’s sincerity in seeking a nuclear agreement, warning that Tehran’s position jeopardizes prospects of restoring the 2015 accord.

European mediators last month appeared to make progress in restoring the 2015 accord as Iran largely agreed to a proposed final text.

But optimism dimmed when the United States sent a reply, to which Iran in turn responded, making fresh demands that the International Atomic Energy Agency close its investigation into several undeclared nuclear sites.

“This latest demand raises serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPOA,” France, Germany, and Britain said, using the acronym for the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In a joint statement on Saturday, France, Germany and Britain said that the final package put to Tehran had taken the European powers “to the limit of their flexibility.”

“Unfortunately, Iran has chosen not to seize this critical diplomatic opportunity,” they said, assessing that “instead, Iran continues to escalate its nuclear program way beyond any plausible civilian justification.”

In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, File)

The JCPOA had been trashed by former US president Donald Trump in 2018, who instead imposed sweeping new sanctions.

Hopes had grown that the agreement might be revived under US President Joe Biden who favors restoring it.

Under the deal, Iran would enjoy sanctions relief and again be able to sell its oil worldwide in return for tough restrictions on its nuclear program.

Related: Exclusive – Nuclear deal with Iran off the table for time being, US has indicated to Israel

The three European powers’ statement came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assessed that Iran’s latest reply on the nuclear deal is a step “backwards.”

He also warned that Washington is “not about to agree to a deal that doesn’t meet our bottom-line requirements.”

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