Leaders of Germany, France, UK and US expressed “grave and growing concern” over Iran nuclear program after meeting on the sidelines of Group of 20 summit in Rome .
The four leaders said Iran “has stepped up the pace of provocative nuclear measures, such as the production of highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal.”
“Iran has no credible civilian need for either measure, but both are important for nuclear weapons programs,” they noted.
The leaders said the situation underscored the importance of Iran and the United States returning to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, in 2018. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union are still part of the deal.
French Emmanuel Macron, Briton Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angela Merkel and American Joe Biden said they believed it was “still possible to reach quickly and implement a return to full agreement. compliance to ensure long-term that Iran’s nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes and to lift sanctions with lasting implications for Iran’s economic growth.
They called on Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to avoid a “dangerous escalation” of the situation.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said it is concerned about the presence of nuclear material in undeclared locations in Iran.
While talks to bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance have been on hold since June, when Iranian President Raisi took power, Iran recently said the country had agreed to resume negotiations.
The meeting comes days after US officials accused Iran of funding a drone attack on a US outpost in Syria. No deaths or injuries were reported as a result of the attack.
In retaliation, the US Treasury Department on Monday announced new sanctions against two senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials and two affiliates for providing deadly drones and related materiel to insurgent groups in Iraq, Lebanon, in Yemen and Ethiopia.
This story has been updated with the leaders’ statement.