Iran has notified concrete steps to produce uranium metal of up to 20 percent purity for reactor fuel, the U.N. atomic energy watchdog said Tuesday.
At the same time, the foreign ministers of the three European powers of Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement. It refers to Tehran’s latest move that “Iran has no real civilian need for uranium metal research and development and production, which is a key step in developing nuclear weapons.”
They find this “all the more troubling” given that no date has yet been set for the resumption of talks in Vienna and that Iran has “significantly limited” IAEA access.
“We have repeatedly stressed that time is on no one’s side,” the statement said. “With its latest moves, Iran is jeopardizing the successful outcome of negotiations in Vienna, despite the progress made so far in six rounds of talks.
Meanwhile, Bob Einhorn, a nonproliferation expert at the Brookings Institution think tank, argues, “This is clearly an escalation clearly another message from Iran that in the absence of any restoration of the nuclear deal, they are going to continue to build up their capacity and pressure.”