European powers urge Iran to reverse nuclear deal breaches

The European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, along with the EU's diplomatic chief, on Tuesday (July 9th) urged Tehran to reverse breaches of the accord, as tensions over it grow, AFP reported.

A day after UN inspectors confirmed Iran had exceeded a uranium enrichment cap set by the 2015 deal and with a top French official due in Tehran for talks, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany voiced "deep concern" about the growing crisis.

The EU has tried desperately but largely fruitlessly to save the deal, which curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief, since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it last year and imposed penalties on the Islamic republic.

"The foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK and the (EU) High Representative express deep concern that Iran is pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," they said in a statement, using the nuclear deal's official name.

"It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPOA compliance without delay," they said.

The statement said a meeting of the JCPOA's overseeing joint commission -- made up of the remaining signatories -- should be called "urgently".

As well as increasing enrichment, Iran has also exceeded a 300-kilogramme limit on enriched uranium reserves, according to the UN atomic watchdog, the IAEA, which has scheduled a special meeting on the issue on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic advisor to Tehran after Iran's announcement that it had passed 4.5% uranium enrichment -- above the 3.7% limit under the agreement.

Emmanuel Bonne is due to visit until Wednesday but details of his schedule were unclear.

Bonne is "to piece together a deescalation" strategy, the French presidency's office said.

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