Governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom on Saturday voiced their concern over Iran’s latest breach of the nuclear deal.
The statement came in response to a report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog stating that Iran has started working on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor.
“We, the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, are deeply concerned by Iran’s announcement that it is preparing to produce uranium metal,” the three countries said on Saturday in a joint statement.
“Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal. The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications,” the statement reads.
“Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Iran committed to not engaging in production of uranium metal or conducting research and development on uranium metallurgy for 15 years.”
The three governments said they “strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday informed its member statement of Tehran’s activities.
“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi today informed IAEA Member States about recent developments regarding Iran’s plans to conduct R&D activities on uranium metal production as part of its declared aim to design an improved type of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor,” the IAEA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The agency issues ad hoc reports to member states when Iran commits a new breach of the deal, though it declines to call them breaches, leaving that call to parties to the 2015 accord.
The deal specifically imposes a 15-year ban on Iran producing or acquiring uranium metal, a sensitive material that can be used in the core of a nuclear bomb.
Separately Iran also plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent, a level it last reached before the 2015 deal, at its Fordow site buried in a mountain, and it started that process last week. It had so far only gone as far as 4.5 percent, above the 3.67 percent limit imposed by the deal but still far short of the 90 percent that is weapons grade.
U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program that it halted in 2003. Iran denies ever seeking nuclear weapons and says its aims with nuclear energy are entirely peaceful.
Reuters contributed to this report