Nuclear talks in jeopardy as Iran produces enriched uranium

Man walking past posters of Iranian president-elect Ibrahim RaisiIran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, which could help it develop a nuclear weapon, the UN’s atomic watchdog has said.

Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and said the process was to develop fuel for a research reactor. British, French and German officials said the move could threaten talks to revive the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal.

The US called it an “unfortunate step backwards”.

The deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme to make it harder for them to develop nuclear weapons. In return, the US and European signatories agreed to lift economic sanctions that were in place. Former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and reinstated sanctions against Iran, after which Tehran began violating many of its restrictions.

Current US President Joe Biden’s administration has so far retained Mr Trump’s sanctions against Iran.

Now, negotiators from the US and Europe have been holding talks in Vienna to try and restore the agreement.

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