Iran breaks further from 2015 nuclear deal, EU critical of move

World Today

Iran is again reducing its commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran has doubled the number of its advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium.

Iran said the move is a direct result of the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

The head of Iran’s nuclear organization Ali Akbar Salehi stood proudly at Iran’s major nuclear power facility in Natanz Monday showing off what he called domestically-manufactured advanced centrifuges.

This is big step because enriching uranium with these new devices produces uranium hexafluoride gas that is closer to the concentrations needed to make nuclear weapons. Though, it is worth emphasizing Iran is still far short of this threshold.

“We decided to show up this challenge for sure, that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s potential capability is so that if we decide, we would make them operational,” Iranian Head of Nuclear Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said.

Iran maintains it can do this under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers because the U.S. has abandoned the agreement and the European signatories have failed to deliver economic relief under the threat of U.S. sanctions.

Iran has been scaling back its commitments, incrementally, in a bid to pressure other nations to keep their promises.

European powers said they want the nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, to continue, but so far, have not been able to deliver the economic relief promised to Tehran and the EU powers are highly critical of Iran’s latest move.

“We view this as unacceptable. Ultimately, Iran is putting the entire nuclear accord at risk and that’s why we expect Iran to return to its JCPOA obligations. Every additional step by Iran which distances itself from the accord will endanger the accord as a whole,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

The U.S. said it is willing to talk to Tehran about a deal that covers not just nuclear issues but also ballistic missiles and what Washington calls Iran’s malign behavior in the Middle East. Iranian leaders said they will only talk if the U.S. rejoins the nuclear deal first and lifts sanctions.

Separately Washington unveiled new sanctions targeting nine aides to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Kahmenei- Washington also announced moves to try and secure the return of a missing former FBI employee it accuses Tehran of abducting. Tensions remain high.