European ministers concerned over Iran's enrichment breach

Diplomatic chiefs of EU, France, Germany and Britain urge Iran to reverse decision to breach a limit on enriched uranium reserves.

Elad Benari,

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

The diplomatic chiefs of the EU, France, Germany and Britain on Tuesday said they were "extremely concerned" following Iran’s decision to breach a limit on enriched uranium reserves under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, AFP reports.

"We urge Iran to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal," said the joint statement signed by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the three countries' foreign ministers -- France's Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany's Heiko Maas and Britain's Jeremy Hunt.

Tehran said Monday that it had made good on its warning that it would breach the limit in response to Washington abandoning the nuclear deal last year and hitting Iran's crucial oil exports and financial transactions with crippling sanctions.

Iran has threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments unless the deal's remaining partners -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- helped it circumvent sanctions, especially to sell its oil.

"We have been consistent and clear that our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance by Iran," said Tuesday’s joint statement.

"We regret this decision by Iran, which calls into question an essential instrument of nuclear nonproliferation."

It added that the group was "urgently considering next steps under the terms" of the deal, which saw Iran commit to never acquiring an atomic bomb, accept drastic limits on its nuclear program and submit to IAEA inspections in exchange for a partial lifting of international sanctions.

Iran’s announcement on Monday followed a meeting with European, Russian and Chinese officials to discuss ways to save the 2015 nuclear following the US withdrawal.

Iran’s envoy to Friday’s meeting in Vienna said that European countries had offered too little to persuade Tehran to back off from its plans to breach limits imposed by the deal.

The EU earlier this year introduced a trade mechanism that would bypass US sanctions on Iran, in a bid to save the 2015 deal, but Iran has rejected that mechanism thus far.