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US, Europeans Slam Iranian Nuclear Plans: ‘Especially Concerning’

June 17, 2024

by: Joshua Spurlock ~ Middle East Update

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A protest outside the US Embassy in Tehran to oppose the US withdrawal from the JCPA in 2018

Monday, 17 June 2024 | Major European nations and the US have voiced alarm at Iran’s latest plans to expand the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which will significantly increase the nation’s already growing nuclear stockpile as the threat of nuclear weapons looms larger. In particular, France, Germany and the UK highlighted Iran’s plans—as reported by the United Nations [UN] nuclear watchdog—to install “thousands more” centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel at both its standard Natantz facility and its underground and better fortified Fordow facility.

“This decision is a further escalation of Iran’s nuclear program, which carries significant proliferation risks,” said a joint statement published on Saturday by the European trio’s Foreign Ministry spokespersons. “Iran’s decision to substantially increase its production capacity at the underground Fordow facility is especially concerning.”

After the US withdrew in 2018 from the flawed international nuclear accord with Iran—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—Iran retaliated by violating the provisions of the JCPOA in expanding their nuclear program and then further took it beyond any reasonable civilian use. This includes enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels, raising concerns about Iran’s plans to develop nuclear warheads.

Following the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran, the US issued a veiled threat that they would respond if Iran moved forward with the nuclear plans. US spokesperson Matthew Miller said the IAEA report “makes clear that Iran aims to continue expanding its nuclear program in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose. These planned actions further undermine Iran’s claims to the contrary.

“If Iran implements these plans, we will respond accordingly,” he said.

Miller did not clarify what an American response would be, even as the US continues to implement more economic sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, military drone shipments to Russia to use against Ukraine and other nefarious actions. Miller noted that the IAEA Board of Governors leadership—which includes the US—”will continue to hold Iran to account. We remain in close coordination with our partners and allies and are prepared to continue to increase pressure on Iran should its non-cooperation with the IAEA continue.”

Among those allies, France, Germany and the UK made it clear the type of response they will take to Iran’s nuclear aggression. According to a joint statement, “We remain committed to a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

The European statement also underlined the specific impact caused by Iran’s nuclear expansion plans. “Iran has taken further steps in hollowing out the JCPOA…These steps will further increase Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile and enrichment capacity, which already significantly exceed JCPOA limits.”

Furthermore, the Europeans called out Iran for their false justification in expanding the nation’s nuclear program, noting Tehran has additional requirements that are required under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran “presenting such steps as a reaction to the IAEA Board of Governors’ adoption of a resolution calling for Iran’s long overdue cooperation on safeguards is not acceptable,” said the Europeans. “Iran is legally obliged under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to fully implement its safeguards agreement, which is separate to the JCPOA.”

Iran continues to be a dangerous force in the world. In addition to the nuclear threat and involvement in Ukraine, Iran supports and inspires Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas in their war against Israel, arms Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen that have been attacking international shipping and even attacked Israel directly in April with hundreds of missiles and drones.

Posted on June 17, 2024

Source: (This article was originally published by the Middle East Update on June 16, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia