European Union warns Iran over nuclear deal after uranium claims
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European Union warns Iran over nuclear deal after uranium claims

EU says it will wait for UN confirmation on Tehran’s announcement of increased production, cautions that Europe’s commitment to 2015 pact depends on Iranian compliance

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, October 28, 2019. (Francisco Seco/AP)
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, October 28, 2019. (Francisco Seco/AP)

The European Union on Monday warned that it could back away from supporting the Iran nuclear deal, after Tehran announced a major increase in enriched uranium production.

Following a series of steps away from its commitments under the 2015 accord, the head of the Iranian atomic energy agency said Monday that production of enriched uranium had reached five kilos a day and two new advanced centrifuges had been developed.

Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, said that the EU’s backing for the deal depends on Tehran keeping up its end of the pact.

She said the bloc “took note” of the announcement but would wait for confirmation by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency before responding.

“We have continued to urge Iran to reverse such steps without delay and to refrain from other measures that would undermine the nuclear deal,” Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels, saying the EU “remained committed” to the nuclear deal.

“But we have also been consistent in saying that our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance by Iran.”

The Vienna-based IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday on Iran’s announcement. The UN agency is tasked with monitoring Tehran’s nuclear activities to assess its compliance with the 2015 agreement with major powers, which has been severely undermined by Washington’s abandonment of it in May last year.

There was also no immediate reaction from Israel or the United States, which backed away from the deal last year.

Tehran decided in May to suspend certain commitments under the accord, a year after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.

By starting up the advanced centrifuges, Iran further cut into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon — if it chose to pursue one. Iran long has insisted its program is for peaceful purposes, though Western fears about its work led to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Iran has so far hit back with three packages of countermeasures and threatened to go even further if the remaining partners to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — fail to help it circumvent US sanctions.

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