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EU, signatories react to Iran’s new step away from JCPOA

The European Union and signatories to a 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program have reacted to Tehran’s decision to take a fourth step in scaling back its commitments under the agreement in reciprocation for Washington’s withdrawal.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the country will start injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility on Wednesday, in the fourth step Tehran is taking away from the multinational nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In a speech broadcast live on TV, Rouhani said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) will be ordered to begin the gas injection process at the Fordow nuclear facility — where 1,044 centrifuges are installed — under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Later in the day, Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib Abadi said the country has informed the UN nuclear agency about its decision to inject UF-6 gas into centrifuges at the Fordow nuclear facility.

Gharib Abadi added that in a letter to the IAEA that Iran requested the presence of the agency’s inspectors at the facility on Wednesday to supervise the process.

A day earlier, Tehran had officially started injecting gas into advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Natanz Nuclear Facility.

EU ‘concerned’ by Iran’s announcement

The European Union on Tuesday expressed its concern over Iran’s new commitment reductions, warning that it is getting harder to save the nuclear accord, whose fate remains in doubt since Washington withdrew from it and re-imposed tough economic sanctions against Tehran.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to preserve the JCPOA, adding the bloc — which chaired the negotiations in the lead-up to the agreement— remained committed to the document, but it depended on “full compliance” from Iran.

“We are concerned by President Rouhani’s announcement today to further reduce Iran’s commitments under the JCPOA,” Kocijancic told reporters.

She added, “We urge Iran to reverse all activities that are inconsistent with its commitments under the JCPOA and to refrain from any further measures that would undermine the preservation and full implementation of the nuclear deal.”