The European Union (EU) views Iran’s decision to take uranium enrichment levels way beyond what is allowed in the 2015 nuclear deal with “deep concern,” but will step up efforts to hold on to the accord, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The move is a “serious departure” from the Islamic republic’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), EU foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano told reporters in Brussels.
But “we are redoubling the efforts to preserve this agreement,” he added, this being the declared intention of all parties.
Tehran announced on Monday that it had begun enriching uranium up to 20 per cent, far outside the 3.67-per-cent limit.
The 2015 agreement between Iran and leading world powers required it to limit production to low-enriched uranium, good for only civilian purposes, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
But after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the deal, Tehran said it no longer felt bound by the agreement.
Since then, it has incrementally violated the limitations set down several times.
Low-enriched uranium is used for nuclear power, whereas highly enriched uranium to the order of 90 per cent can be used to produce atomic weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the measure could be reversed if all participants fully complied with the deal.
Japan voices concerns
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday that Japan was seriously concerned about Iran’s decision to enrich uranium at 20 per cent in breach of the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
Earlier in the day, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said that uranium enrichment at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant had reached 20 per cent.
“We express our serious concerns.
“We urge Iran to observe the provisions of the nuclear agreement and refrain from actions that could undermine it,” Kato said at a news conference.
The maximum level at which Iran could enrich uranium under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was 3.67 per cent.
Iran will be required to provide the IAEA access to all of its declared facilities so that the agency can be assured of the peaceful nature of the nuclear programme.
According to details of the deal published by the U.S. government, IAEA inspectors would have access to all of the nuclear facilities including enrichment facilities.
The inspectors are to also have access to the supply chain that supports the nuclear programme and uranium mines as well as continuous surveillance at uranium mills, centrifuge rotors, and bellows production and storage facilities.
Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its programme.