Iran has begun the production of enriched uranium metal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said in a statement, prompting the three Western negotiators in the Iran nuclear deal to issue a joint statement condemning the move.
“This is a serious violation of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA),” the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK said in their statement.
“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.”
“This further step in Iran’s escalation of its nuclear violations is all the more concerning at a time when no date has been set for the continuation of the negotiations in Vienna on a return to the JCPoA,” the three also said.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said, as quoted by Reuters, “Iran’s nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA.”
Reuters reported that both European and U.S. government officials expect the news to complicate the already complicated negotiations on the JCPOA, which President Trump pulled the U.S. out of when he came into office but his successor signalled he was ready to return to the deal under certain conditions.
While a month ago the deal seemed all but done, now the end of the negotiations looks a lot more distant. The change of the guard in Tehran after the June elections was one reason. Now, Iran’s move to continue with its uranium enrichment program will present another challenge for the negotiators.
Tehran’s refusal to make any concessions is also an obstacle, according to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Last month, Blinken and his French counterpart warned that the reinstatement of the nuclear deal is at risk unless Iran changed its attitude.