The European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal released a statement on Friday accusing Iran of “undermining” the opportunity for diplomacy by increasing its nuclear activity, even though the US has yet to engage with Iran and is the party that violated the deal.
“In escalating its non-compliance, Iran is undermining the opportunity for renewed diplomacy to fully realize the objectives of the JCPOA,” France, Germany, and the UK said in a joint statement.
After the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 by reimposing sanctions on Iran, Tehran waited a year for the European signatories to offset sanctions. Throughout that first year, Iran voluntarily stayed within the limits of the JCPOA even though US sanctions released Iran of its obligations.
Since then, Iran has been gradually increasing uranium enrichment and its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. The latest move the European countries take issue with is the production of uranium metal. “We reiterate that Iran has no credible civilian justification for these activities, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,” the statement said.
But according to the IAEA, Iran confirmed that it is studying uranium metal so it can produce fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), a nuclear facility built by the US in the 1960s that can create medical isotopes. To create fuel rods for the TRR, Iran needs uranium metal, and that uranium needs to be enriched at 20 percent, something Iran recently began doing.
The 20 percent enrichment is the highest level Iran has ever attempted and is still vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade uranium. Despite the reality and the US pressure that caused Iran to step up its nuclear activity, the Europeans still put the blame on Iran.
While Iran has been increasing the activity of its civilian nuclear program, Iranian officials have been clear that they are willing to scale it back if the US lifts sanctions. But the Biden administration seems to be in no hurry to lift the crippling economic sanctions left in place by the Trump administration and has yet to engage in dialogue with Tehran.