The United States on Tuesday warned Iran to stop nuclear “brinksmanship,” saying the country’s latest efforts to enrich uranium could complicate its return to talks aimed at restarting the 2015 nuclear accord.
“It is worrying that Iran is choosing to continue to escalate its non-performance of its JCPOA commitments, especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, referring to the joint comprehensive plan of action reached between Iran and six nations on restricting Tehran’s atomic program.
“We continue to urge Iran to stop this brinksmanship, to return to Vienna prepared for real talks, and to be in a position to be prepared to finish the work that we have started in April,” he said.
European powers have also expressed “grave concern” over the country’s move to enrich uranium in its nuclear programme.
“With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations to date,” the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said in a statement.
An IAEA statement said Tehran had told the agency that it would be sending the enriched uranium to its research and development laboratory at the fuel production plant in Isfahan.
The aim would be to make fuel for a research reactor, the agency added.
The three European ministers called it a “serious violation” of Iran’s commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.
“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 added.
The latest move takes Iran a step closer to developing materials that could be used to make a nuclear weapon, although Tehran insists it is only interesting in the technology to fulfil its energy needs.
Iran has gradually moved away from the terms of the deal it signed with world powers in 2015.
Former president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018.
The talks in Vienna are aimed at bringing the United States under new President Joe Biden back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Biden has expressed readiness if conditions are met by Iran.
But the talks in Vienna to try to revive the JCPOA, which began in April, have not moved forward in recent weeks.
With Ebrahim Raisi, a new hardline president, due to take office in Iran on August 3 and succeed the more moderate Hassan Rouhani, it is also not clear what will happen when they do.
“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,” said the ministers.
Iran should “without delay” return to the negotiations in Vienna with a view to bringing them to “a swift conclusion”, they warned.
“We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no-one’s side,” they said