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Iran stands defiant on nuclear inspections

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Reuters

VIENNA/PARIS (Reuters) – Iran will not cooperate more fully with atomic inspectors until a standoff over its nuclear deal is resolved, its UN envoy said, as one signatory warned Tehran against moving ahead with preparations to boost its uranium enrichment capacity.

Tehran meanwhile signalled its resolve to expand its enrichment capability by detailing plans to build advanced centrifuges – the machines that enrich uranium.

European powers have been scrambling to salvage the agreement they signed in 2015 since US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out last month and said he would reimpose far-reaching US sanctions on Iran.

Foreign and finance ministers from those three countries – France, Britain and Germany – have written to US officials to stress their commitment to upholding the pact, and to urge Washington to spare EU firms active in Iran from secondary sanctions.

An Iranian withdrawal from the deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, would “further unsettle a region where additional conflicts would be disastrous,” the ministers wrote in the letter dated June 4 and seen by Reuters.

Since the US pullout was announced, authorities here have sent mixed signals on whether they believe the nuclear deal’s remaining signatories, which also include China and Russia, can salvage it.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if the agreement collapsed.

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