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International News

Nov 07, 2019
8:59PM

Iran resumes uranium enrichment, raising concern from signatories to 2015 nuclear deal

PTI
Iran has resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow plant south of Tehran today in a new departure from its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, a statement said.

The suspension of uranium enrichment at the long secret plant was one of the restrictions Iran had agreed to on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of UN sanctions.

It has drawn a chorus of concern from the remaining parties to the troubled agreement. Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia have been trying to salvage the hard-won deal since Washington abandoned it in May last year and reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions.  

The resumption of enrichment at Fordow is Iran's fourth move away from the deal. Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead. Iran has always denied any military dimension to its nuclear programme. 

Iran's latest move comes after the passing of a deadline it set for the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement to come up with a mechanism that would allow foreign firms to continue doing business with Iran without incurring US penalties. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern about Tehran's announcements but said European powers should do their part. The Kremlin had previously called sanctions against Iran as unprecedented and illegal.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Iran had made grave decisions and its resumption of uranium enrichment was a profound change from Tehran's previous position. The next few weeks will be dedicated to increasing pressure on Iran to return within the framework of the pact, the French President said, adding that this must be accompanied by an easing of some sanctions.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain remained committed to a negotiated way forward but demanded that Iran abide by its obligations. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Iran must roll back its decision to resume uranium enrichment, calling Tehran's action unacceptable.

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