France says Iran’s preparatory works to resume uranium enrichment are not in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Following an order by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and in response to US President Donald Trump’s pullout from the JCPOA, Tehran announced Tuesday that it had begun preparations for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility.
“What was announced yesterday remains completely within the (framework of the) agreement,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters on Wednesday.
“I think this initiative is pretty impolitic. It shows a sort of irritation and it is always dangerous to flirt with the red lines. But today, the initiative taken to reinforce the process of uranium enrichment remains totally within the framework of the Vienna (nuclear) deal. It is proven,” he added.
Asked whether making new centrifuges would count as a violation, Le Drian said it was not until “they [Iranians] go to the higher phase.”
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has been ordered to get prepared for a rise to 190,000 SWUs (separative work unit) within the framework of the deal.
Iran’s envoy to the IAEA says Tehran will restart its nuclear activities if the 2015 nuclear deal fails.
Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment efficiency and increase it by the end of next decade shortly before the deal expires.
However, Trump’s pledge to restore sanctions removed under the JCPOA and Europe’s inability to provide firm and solid guarantees that it can protect trade with Iran despite them have painted an uncertain future for the deal.
In his press call, Le Drian echoed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s in confirming Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA and said the European signatories– France, the UK and Germany– were working together to fulfill Iran’s conditions to keep the deal alive in absence of the US.
“We want to maintain the agreement, we work for that, we work with the Iranians for that,” he said. “We must keep a sense of proportion and stick to the agreement, and it must permanently be inspected by the IAEA, what it does.”
Unlike Europeans, Russia and China– the other two signatories to the deal– have announced their plans to stay in the JCPOA despite Trump’s threats.
Russia ‘regrets’ US withdrawal
Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told an IAEA session on Wednesday that Moscow “deeply regrets” Washington’s withdrawal.
Speaking at a session of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Ulyanov said the “ill-thought-out” move undermines the agency’s system of guarantees and hurts its prestige by undermining its inspection regime.
“In total, all these factors unravel the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, against which Washington has dealt a serious blow, without giving any thought about it or considering its implications,” the Russian envoy argued.