The governments of France, Germany and the UK have said they are “deeply concerned” by Iran’s announcement it will produce uranium metal, a violation of the 2015 nuclear treaty.
Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday that it was advancing its production of uranium metal to be used as fuel for a reactor.
Uranium metal can be used as a component for nuclear weapons, and the western governments said in a statement the production of the material has “potentially grave military implications”.
The statement released on Saturday read: “Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal. The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Iran committed to not engaging in production of uranium metal or conducting research and development on uranium metallurgy for 15 years.
“We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal.”
In response to the European trio, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (OIEA) said that it had not, at this stage, “presented information…about the design of the uranium metal plant” to the IAEA.
This will be done when “the necessary preparations have been made and within the time limits imposed by law” it said.
The Iranian body also said it hoped the IAEA would not cause further “misunderstandings in the future, by refraining from mentioning unnecessary details in its reports”.
The 2015 agreement includes a 15-year ban on “the production or acquisition of metals of plutonium or uranium or their alloys”.
It foresees that Iran could be allowed to start research on the production of uranium fuel “in agreed small quantities” after ten years, but only with the authorisation of the other signatories to the agreement.
The Vienna agreement was reached by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (France, UK, Russia, China, USA) plus Germany.
Outgoing US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from it in 2018.