Germany, France, Britain warn Iran against uranium metal production

Vienna, July 7, (dpa/GNA) - Germany, France and Britain warned Iran on Tuesday against a further escalation of its atomic weapons activities, saying it threatens negotiations under way to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

In a joint statement from their foreign ministers, the trio expressed "grave concern" at Iran's moves in the production of enriched uranium metal.

Iran has no credible civilian need for such material, the ministers said.

Rather, such research and production are "a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon."

Germany's Heiko Maas, France's Jean-Yves Le Drian and Britain's Dominic Raab said it jeopardized negotiations to save the nuclear accord, which originally saw Iran consent to limiting its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

That deal has been in tatters since the US abandoned it in 2018 under former president Donald Trump, who then reimposed sanctions. Iran responded by steadily violating the accord's terms.

Multilateral talks to save the deal began in Vienna in April but were paused last month. The date for a new round has yet to be set. The US and Iran had been negotiating through European intermediaries.

The three foreign ministers were responding to the news that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been notified by Iran that it was taking steps to produce uranium metal enriched to up to 20 per cent purity.

Iran says the material will serve as fuel for a research reactor.

But under the nuclear deal, Tehran had committed to sourcing that fuel from abroad instead of producing the metal, which also has military uses, itself.