US, European allies call on Iran not to limit IAEA access

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from Britain, Germany, and France (E3) discussed the Iran nuclear issue on Thursday, calling on Tehran not to limit the verification of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The E3 and the US called on Iran not to take any additional steps, in particular with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and to any limitations on IAEA verification activities in Iran,” according to a joint statement issued after their meeting.

The US and its European allies in the statement urged Iran to “consider the consequences of such action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity”, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The four foreign policy chiefs expressed concerns over Iran’s recent actions to produce both uranium enriched up to 20 percent and uranium metal.

The statement also signalled that Washington is ready to engage with Tehran over the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The E3 welcomed the US’ stated intention to return to diplomacy with Iran as well as the resumption of a confident and in-depth dialogue between the E3 and the US,” said the statement.

“If Tehran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the US will do the same,” Blinken reaffirmed in the statement, adding that Washington “is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end.”

Iran, however, insisted the US take the first step. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reaffirmed on Wednesday that as soon as the US returns to its commitments, Iran will do the same, adding this can be done in full and at once, or in a series of gradual steps taken by Washington and then by Tehran.

Iran has threatened that if the parties to the JCPOA do not adhere to their commitments, Iran would stop implementing the Additional Protocol of the IAEA. In January, Iran launched a 20-per cent uranium enrichment process as part of Iran’s Strategic Action Plan which was approved by the parliament in December 2020.

In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the re-imposition of sanctions, Iran has suspended implementing parts of its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.