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France, Germany, UK condemn Iran’s nuclear escalation

The steps taken by Iran will increase its uranium stockpile and enrichment capacity, which already well exceed JCPOA's limits, the three western powers said.

Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.
Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Saturday condemned Iran’s latest steps to expand its nuclear program.

“Iran has taken further steps in hollowing out the JCPOA, by operating dozens of additional advanced centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment site as well as announcing it will install thousands more centrifuges at both its Fordow and Natanz sites,” they said in a statement, an English version of which was posted on the U.K.’s government website.

The steps taken by Iran will increase both its uranium stockpile and enrichment capacity, which already well exceed the JCPOA’s limits, the three western powers said.

The JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal, was signed in 2015 by Iran and several world powers. It limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran’s decision “carries significant proliferation risks,” they said, noting that Tehran’s move to increase production capacity at its underground Fordow facility is “especially concerning.”

Their statement follows one on Friday by the Group of Seven leaders (G7) warning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment program.

“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement read, according to Reuters.

The G7 also said it was prepared to enforce new measures if Tehran transferred ballistic missiles to Russia.

In reponse to the G7 statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani on Sunday called on the group to step back from its “destructive policies of the past.”

“Any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral cooperation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals,” said Kanaani.

He added that some countries are “resorting to false claims to continue sanctions” against Iran.

Iran’s stockpile of 60%-enriched uranium has increased by 20.6 kilograms (45.5 pounds) since February, according to a confidential report by the IAEA in late May.

The document revealed that Tehran has accumulated 142.1 kilograms (313.2 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60%. This level of enrichment is just a technical step from 90% enrichment, considered weapons grade.

According to the IAEA definition, it is technically possible to create an atomic bomb with roughly 42 kilograms (92.5 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% if the material is enriched to 90%.

According to the IAEA, Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at 6,201.3 kilograms (13,671.5 pounds)—a 675.8 kilogram (1,489.8 pound) increase in three months.

Following meetings with officials in Iran earlier in May, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters that Tehran’s cooperation with the organization has been “completely unsatisfactory” in recent months and urged the country to adopt “concrete” measures to address concerns.

There have also been recent Iranian threats of a push towards the bomb.

On May 9, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Tehran will weaponize its nuclear program if Israel “threatens its existence.”

Also in May, a lawmaker close to the regime suggested that the country might already possess an atomic bomb, saying, “In my opinion, we have achieved nuclear weapons, but we do not announce it.”

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