Britain, France, Germany ‘deeply concerned’ by Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment

Britain, France, Germany ‘deeply concerned’ by Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment
The Bushehr main nuclear reactor, 1,200 km south of Tehran. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 06 January 2021

Britain, France, Germany ‘deeply concerned’ by Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment

Britain, France, Germany ‘deeply concerned’ by Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment
  • European powers urge Tehran to reverse nuclear program
  • 'Serious negative development' undermines commitment to preserve JCPOA

LONDON: Britain, France and Germany on Wednesday condemned Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity and urged Tehran to reverse its nuclear program.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear development in return for eased sanctions, the country was permitted to reach enrichment levels of 3.67 percent.

Tehran first breached this restriction in 2018 after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement, and last week UN inspectors confirmed that Iran had begun enriching to 20 percent at its Fordow nuclear plant.

“This action, which has no credible civil justification and carries very significant proliferation-related risks, is in clear violation of Iran’s commitments under the JCPOA and further hollows out the agreement,” the three European countries said.

They described the enrichment as a “serious negative development” that undermined the commitment by JCPOA signatories to preserve the agreement and “also risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US administration.”

They said: “We strongly urge Iran to stop enriching uranium to up to 20 percent without delay, reverse its enrichment program to the limits agreed in the JCPOA and to refrain from any further escalatory steps which would further reduce the space for effective diplomacy.”

Kyle Orton, an independent geopolitical analyst, told Arab News the joint message from Britain, France and Germany was “a reaffirmation of their commitment to the JCPOA and is clearly aimed in significant part at the incoming administration under Joe Biden, hoping it will resume adherence to the JCPOA, which they view as the best strategy for dealing with the nuclear issue.”

The enhanced enrichment by Tehran was also aimed at Washington, Orton said. “The Iranians announcing the shift to enriching at 20 percent is probably a preparatory step for the resumption of diplomatic engagement under a Biden administration, rather than a serious effort to construct a nuclear weapon.”

However, with geopolitical tension in the background, European hopes of a revival of the JCPOA were looking increasingly unlikely to be realized, Orton said. “The environment in which that treaty was written is totally different to the present circumstances, which renders it nearly obsolete,” he said. “It seems unlikely that the deal can be revived and most of its provisions lapse soon anyway.”

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian affairs expert and Harvard scholar, said the EU’s move is a positive step but does not go far enough, particularly if the EU continues to support the JCPOA.

“Tehran is benefiting from the disunity in European and US policy and, if the EU does not impose sanctions on Iran, we can expect more nuclear defiance over the coming months and years,” he said. “If the EU does not impose sanctions on Iran, we can expect more nuclear defiance over the coming months and years. A united front, comprising joint sanctions, would send a clear message and engender an economic stranglehold that would force Tehran to concentrate on its domestic agenda.”

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Russian victim regains consciousness following stabbing attack in Istanbul

Russian victim regains consciousness following stabbing attack in Istanbul
Updated 24 min 45 sec ago

Russian victim regains consciousness following stabbing attack in Istanbul

Russian victim regains consciousness following stabbing attack in Istanbul
  • The victim, a fashion model, was a tourist visiting Turkey and had never met the attacker before

LONDON: A Russian woman who was stabbed seven times by a knife-wielding attacker in Istanbul has regained consciousness, her sister said. 
Maria Rosanova, who is the sister of the victim Alexandra, told Life.ru news website that doctors at the hospital said she had regained consciousness and doctors are assessing her condition, according to a report by RT Arabic. 
Alexandra, a fashion model, was a tourist visiting Turkey and had never met the attacker before. 
“The incident not only caused physical suffering to her, but also emotional damage,” her sister said. 
Alexandra was attacked by a Turkish man along with two other Russians, a man and a woman, late on Sunday night. They were taken to hospital but their injuries were not life threatening. 
 The man suspected of attacking the Russians, a local garbage collector, has been detained by police, according to Russian agency Sputnik.
Preliminary reports suggested he was mentally ill.
The attack was caught on camera and widely shared online.
Turkey continues to grapple with high rates of violent crime, particularly murder and attempted murder.