France warns Iran over nuclear breaches, Russia urges ‘restraint’

Paris called on Tehran “not to take any new measures that would further worsen the nuclear situation, already extremely worrying due to the accumulation of violations of the Vienna Accord.”
Friday 12/02/2021
A file photo shows an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector probing uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran. (Reuters)
A file photo shows an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector probing uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran. (REUTERS)

PARIS – Russia and France on Thursday urged Iran to show restraint after it started producing uranium metal in a new breach of limits laid out in Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

France’s foreign ministry warned Iran on Thursday against taking further measures that could breach the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers and as a result jeopardise a diplomatic window opened with the arrival of a new US administration.

“To preserve the political space to find a negotiated solution, we call on Iran not to take any new measures that would further worsen the nuclear situation, already extremely worrying due to the accumulation of violations of the Vienna Accord, including the latest just reported by the IAEA,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.

She was referring to a UN atomic agency report on Wednesday that said Tehran had carried out its plan to produce uranium metal. Iran has also warned it could block later this month short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Tehran denies having any ambitions of building a nuclear bomb, but said last month it was researching the production of uranium metal, a potential component for nuclear weapons.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Wednesday that it had verified the production of 3.6 grammes of uranium metal at a plant in Iran.

Iran’s ally Russia called on Tehran to adopt a “reasonable approach” and exert restraint.

“We understand the logic of their actions and the reasons prompting Iran. Despite this it is necessary to show restraint and a responsible approach,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated Tehran’s stance that Washington must take the first step toward restoring the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Biden administration officials keep talking about Iran’s compliance with JCPOA — In what capacity?” Zarif said on Twitter.

“US ceased participation in May 2018, violated JCPOA & punished those complying with UN resolution. As of today, US remains in EXACTLY same position. Before spouting off, COMPLY,” he wrote.

The deal reached by Iran with the US, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain, which aims to prevent Iran from developing an atomic bomb, bans Tehran from “producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys” for 15 years.

Trump dramatically withdrew from the nuclear deal as part of a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran, which included the reimposition of crippling economic sanctions.

Biden is seeking to revive the agreement, but the two sides appear to be in a standoff over who should act first.