European powers called on Iran to cooperate with the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA. This came after Tehran warned that undue pressure from the US and Israel could jeopardise the agency's activities in Iran. "Strongly urge Iran to reverse all activities that are inconsistent with its commitments" under the 2015 deal on its nuclear programme and "to cooperate with the IAEA on all relevant matters, including safeguards issues," Britain, France, Germany and the EU's foreign policy chief in a joint statement said.
Iran last week said it had fired up advanced centrifuges to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles. The country’s Atomic Energy Organisation said it had activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. “The centrifuge machines, as they are engaged in research and development, will help with increasing the stockpile,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
“The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday),” he told a news conference in Tehran.
Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran was allowed to enrich uranium using only first generation—or IR-1 -- centrifuges.
Earlier, the UN atomic watchdog had said Iran is still in violation of limitations set by the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium still exceeds the amount allowed by the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action the International Atomic Energy Agency said. It said Iran continues to enrich uranium to 4.5 per cent, above the 3.67 per cent allowed. The IAEA says Iran has continued to permit its inspectors to monitor its nuclear facilities.
Last year, US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and has reimposed sanctions on Iran in an effort to force it to renegotiate the agreement.
Tensions soared in the Gulf in June and July amid attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s downing of an unmanned US surveillance drone and after the US said it had downed an Iranian drone. Trump has said the attack against the US drone prompted him to order a military strike in response, only to call it off at the last minute.