EU warns Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20% ‘a matter of deep concern’


Union says Iranians undermining diplomacy surrounding 2015 nuclear pact, looks forward to working on issue with Biden’s incoming administration

By AFP and TOI STAFFToday, 11:08 am  2

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during an EU-Serbia videoconference council at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, December 17, 2020. (Francisco Seco/AP)

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during an EU-Serbia videoconference council at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, December 17, 2020. (Francisco Seco/AP)

The European Union said Monday that Iran’s recent move to ramp up uranium enrichment was undermining diplomacy over its nuclear program and urged Tehran to avoid any further escalation.

In a statement on behalf of the 27-nation bloc, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned Tehran that its 20 percent enrichment was “a very serious development” with “potentially severe proliferation implications.”

“We urge Iran to refrain from further escalation and reverse this course of action without delay. Continued full and timely cooperation with the (UN nuclear watchdog) IAEA remains critical,” he said.

Borrel said the EU was looking forward to working soon with US President-elect Joe Biden on resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal, and rejected Tehran’s accusation the EU had aligned with Washington’s sanctions.

The EU supported “intensive diplomacy with the goal of facilitating a US return to the JCPOA and Iran’s return to full JCPOA implementation,” he said, referring to an acronym for the deal’s official name.A satellite image from September 15, 2017, of the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

Biden, who takes office on January 20, has suggested the United States will return to the Iran deal, which it withdrew from in 2018 under US President Donald Trump, who reinstated and increased US sanctions.

Iran from 2019 has increasingly breached its own commitments under the deal, arguing it has the right to do so under its terms because the US was no longer abiding by it.

Most recently, last week it started again enriching uranium to 20 percent at its Fordo nuclear site, a step just below what is needed to produce material for nuclear weapons.

It has also accused the European signatories — EU members France and Germany and former EU member Britain — of going along with the US sanctions, even as their governments defied Trump to keep the deal alive.

In a likely sign of Biden’s intention to quickly address the Iran nuclear deal, the US president-elect on Monday tapped William Burns, a retired diplomat, to be his CIA chief.

Burns helped lead secret talks with Tehran that set the stage for the 2015 accord with Iran.

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