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Britain, France and Germany condemn Iran centrifuge plan

Britain, France and Germany condemn ‘deeply worrying’ bid by Iran to install advanced centrifuges at enrichment plant in defiance of 2015 nuclear deal

  • UN watchdog says Iran has begun operating advanced centrifuges at Natanz
  • Britain, France and Germany said plans violated the deal that Trump quit in 2018
  • Iran is only meant to enrich uranium with less sophisticated types of centrifuge 

Plans by Iran to install advanced centrifuges at its main nuclear enrichment plant in Natanz are ‘deeply worrying’, Britain, France and Germany said on Monday. 

The three governments said plans approved by Iran’s parliament for a further expansion of the nuclear programme were contrary to a 2015 agreement between Tehran and world powers. 

The deal, which the US abandoned in 2018 but which president-elect Joe Biden says he wants to re-enter, is ‘the best and currently the only way to monitor and constrain Iran’s nuclear programme,’ the three countries said.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported last month that Iran had installed and begun operating advanced centrifuges at an underground section at Natanz. 

The Natanz nuclear facility, seen in a satellite image in October, has seen the installation of advanced centrifuges which alarm Western powers 

Under the terms of Iran’s 2015 deal it is only meant to enrich uranium with a less sophisticated variety of centrifuges. 

Since May last year Iran has taken steps to violate that limit and several others laid down in the deal in retaliation for Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal. 

‘Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the [deal] and deeply worrying,’ Britain, France and Germany said. 

The three European powers said they had noted ‘with great concern’ a law passed by the Iranian parliament that would expand Iran’s nuclear programme. 

They also criticised the law for limiting the IAEA’s monitoring access, saying this too would be ‘incompatible’ with the deal and ‘Iran’s wider nuclear commitments’.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani and other officials inspect nuclear technology at a facility in Tehran

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and other officials inspect nuclear technology at a facility in Tehran  

The bill ‘for the lifting of sanctions and protection of the Iranian people’s interests’ was approved by the powerful Guardian Council on Wednesday but has to be signed by president Hassan Rouhani to become law.

Rouhani, whose government has signalled a readiness to engage with Biden’s administration, has called the bill ‘detrimental to the course of diplomatic activities’.

The three European governments said that if Iran was serious about wanting to return to diplomacy with the incoming US government, it had to reverse the bill and the installation of the centrifuges.

Iran denies it has ambitions of developing a nuclear weapon, insisting its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.  

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