U.S., European Powers Decry Latest Nuclear Move by Iran

U.S. State Department spokesman said that Washington was not setting a deadline for the talks

A missile is launched in a drill in Iran, in January.
A missile is launched in a drill in Iran, in January.Credit: Iranian Revolutionary Guard/Sepa

Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, the UN atomic watchdog said on Tuesday, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and that three European powers said threatened talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran's steps, which were disclosed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and which Tehran said were aimed at developing fuel for a research reactor, also drew criticism from the United States, which called them an "unfortunate step backwards."

U.S. and European officials made clear that Iran's decision would complicate, and potentially torpedo, indirect U.S.-Iranian talks seeking to bring both nations back into compliance with the 2015 deal, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

How Israel, Fatah and the PA join forces to silence Palestinian protest: LISTEN to Amira Hass

The deal imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear program to make it harder for Tehran to develop fissile material for nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. After Trump withdrew, Iran began violating many of its restrictions.

Tehran has already produced a small amount of uranium metal this year that was not enriched. That is a breach of the deal, which bans all work on uranium metal since it can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb.

"Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20 percent U-235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at the Fuel Fabrication Plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20 percent U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel," an IAEA statement said.

A confidential IAEA report seen by Reuters said the agency had confirmed that Iran had taken steps described to begin the process.

Britain, France and Germany said on Tuesday they had "grave concern" about Iran's decision, which violates the nuclear deal formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon," they said in a joint statement issued by Britain's foreign ministry.

"With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations," they said, and urged Iran to return to the talks, which began in April and adjourned on June 20. No date has been set for a next round.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was not setting a deadline for the talks but noted "that as time proceeds Iran's nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA."

Price said the United States found it "worrying" that Iran was continuing to violate the agreement "especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research.

"It's another unfortunate step backwards for Iran," he said.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN
A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders with Jessica Cisneros in San Antonio last week.

It’s AIPAC vs. Bernie Sanders in Too-close-to-call Texas Democratic Runoff

U.S. President Joe Biden. Making a historic pivot to Asia.

Biden Does What His Three Predecessors Talked About Yet Failed to Do

Meir Kahane addressing his followers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, in 1984.

Why the U.S. Removed Kahane Chai From Terrorist Blacklist