Germany and Britain Friday condemned Iran’s decision to resume production of centrifuge parts and said they would work with France on a response.
Iran promised France, Germany and Britain last October it would suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel for nuclear power plants or weapons, in exchange for peaceful nuclear technology.
Centrifuges are machines that purify uranium gas by spinning at supersonic speeds.
The United States accuses Iran of developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program, an allegation Tehran fiercely denies.
Last week, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, unanimously adopted a resolution co-sponsored by the three EU states that “deplores” Iran’s failure to cooperate fully with the agency’s investigation of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Before its adoption, Iran threatened to resume some or all of its enrichment activities if the toughly worded text was not softened. The Europeans refused to compromise during the weeklong negotiations on the text.
Tehran’s decision has not formally been announced but was made public by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton in Washington Thursday.
European diplomats said Paris and London had also received the letter, written by Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani. A diplomat on the IAEA board said the agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, also received a copy.
While declining to officially confirm receipt of the letter, the two responses to Tehran’s decision were de facto confirmation.
“We are disappointed at the announcement to resume (production), which is not justified from our perspective. We regret it,” a spokeswoman from Germany’s Foreign Ministry said.
London’s Foreign Office echoed Germany’s remarks.
“We are disappointed by Iran’s decision and are working with our partners about what to do,” said a spokesman.
Germany, France and Britain would coordinate what steps to take next, the German spokeswoman added.
One European source said although it was too early to draw conclusions, it was possible the letter meant Iran had reneged on its agreement, which could have serious implications for the European Union’s engagement with Iran.
The three EU states have adopted a strategy of engagement with Iran that contrasts sharply with the U.S. policy of isolating Iran and threatening it with U.N. Security Council sanctions for violating its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The IAEA began investigating Iran after an Iranian exile group reported in August 2002 that Tehran was hiding a massive uranium enrichment facility and other sites from the IAEA.