The three European powers in the Iran nuclear deal have voiced concerns over steps by Tehran aimed at boosting its uranium-enrichment program, warning such a move might jeopardize attempts to salvage the embattled 2015 agreement.
The UK, France, and Germany – the three European signees of the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – released a joint statement on Monday, urging Iran to abandon plans to expand its nuclear program.
Last week, Tehran notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it intends to install additional advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at its nuclear facility in Natanz.
Moreover, the country’s parliament passed a new legislation, which, if implemented, would greatly expand the scope of its nuclear program while restricting IAEA observers’ access to the nation’s facilities, if the sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors are not eased by the European parties in two months.
“If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps,” the statement reads.
The landmark nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to severely limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and business opportunities, has been in limbo since early 2018. Back then, Donald Trump’s administration walked away from it, accusing Tehran of violating the “spirit” of the JCPOA. After that, Washington re-imposed old sanctions and rolled out scores of new ones against the country, targeting various companies and individuals it believes to be linked to the nuclear program.
While the European signees have repeatedly reiterated their commitment to the agreement and urged Iran to stay within it, they have not managed to alleviate the impact of the US’ campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran. Still, with the US administration expected to change soon, the European parties urged Tehran to show some restraint again.
“Such a move would jeopardize our shared efforts to preserve the JCPOA and also risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US Administration,” they warned.