Brussels (Brussels Morning) France, Germany and the UK expressed concern yesterday, Monday, over Iran’s plans to expand its nuclear programme, Reuters reports. Iran announced its intention to install additional centrifuges for enriching uranium as well as plans to adopt regulations for expanding the country’s nuclear programme.
The three European countries cautioned that Iran should not follow through with its announcement if it is serious about leaving the door open for diplomacy. The three plus China, Russia and the EU are party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which aims to limit Iran’s nuclear programme.
According to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report seen by Reuters, Iran is planning to install three more advanced centrifuges in its underground Natanz plant. The JCPOA limits Iran’s nuclear programme to the IR-1 centrifuges as the only machines for enriching uranium.
The as yet unreleased report indicates that Iran’s plan to install three additional advanced centrifuges at the Natanz plant does not align with provisions of the JCPOA and is a cause for concern. The new centrifuges in question are of the IR-2m type, which are capable of separating isotopes of uranium much faster than the IR-1 model.
The report points out that new approach will require the government of Iran to prevent UN inspections of the country’s nuclear sites and will increase enrichment efforts well beyond the JCPOA limits. Not only are the proposals contrary to the terms of the JCPOA but they are also in contravention of Iran’s broader non-proliferation commitments.
The announced moves would challenge joint efforts to preserve the JCPOA, the report notes, as well as pose a threat to chances for finding a diplomatic solution “with the incoming US administration.” The report stresses the importance of a return to the JCPOA for Iran, noting that it was Washington that withdrew from the deal and re-imposed sanctions against Iran, and that it was this unilateral action that had such an adverse effect on the country’s economy.
Iran already in violation of JCPOAIran has been violating the terms of the JCPOA since May last year after the US withdrew from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, RFI reports. Iran’s Guardian Council passed the controversial law for the expansion of the country’s nuclear programme on Wednesday last week, but the decision needs to be approved by President Hassan Rouhani in order to come into effect.