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U.S., European Diplomats Urge Iran To Comply With Nuclear Deal

Updated

An inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency checks the uranium-enrichment process inside an Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz. (file photo)

The top diplomats from the United States, Germany, France, and Britain have urged Iran to return to full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington pulled out of in 2018.

The deal signed by Tehran with the four Western powers, along with China and Russia, called for curbs on Iran’s uranium-enrichment program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled his country out of the accord and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran, saying the terms were not strict enough to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

The other signatories have been attempting to save the accord. Since the U.S. pullout, Tehran has increasingly breached limits it had agreed to under the deal.

Iran has warned it would ban short-notice inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), by February 21 if the United States does not lift the sanctions imposed since 2018.

In a joint statement after a virtual meeting on February 18, the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, and the United States said they were "united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access."

The statement urged "Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity," adding that they all shared the aim of Iran returning to "full compliance" with the deal.

'Playing With Fire'

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian for talks in Paris on February 18. New U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined through a video link.

The powers also expressed concerns over Iran's recent move to produce both uranium enriched up to 20 percent and uranium metal in new violations of the deal.

"These activities have no credible civil justification," the statement said. "Uranium metal production is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon."

The sides also "expressed their shared fundamental security interest in upholding the nuclear nonproliferation regime and ensuring that Iran can never develop a nuclear weapon."

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (file photo)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (file photo)

"The recent steps of Iran are not helpful at all, they endanger the return of the Americans" to the deal, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Paris ahead of the talks.

"Apparently Iran is not interested in easing the tensions, but in escalation. They are playing with fire," he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has indicated more willingness to deal with Iran than his predecessor did, but he has publicly stated Tehran must adhere to its commitment under the 2015 deal before his administration will discuss the possibility of lifting sanctions.

Blinken said last month he wants to coordinate with U.S. allies to get to a "longer and stronger agreement" with Iran.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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