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US, Allies Clash With Iran Over Nukes  06/25 06:08

   The United States and its key European allies clashed with Iran and Russia 
over Tehran's expanding nuclear program, with the U.S. vowing "to use all means 
necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran" in a U.N. Security Council meeting 
on Monday.

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States and its key European allies clashed 
with Iran and Russia over Tehran's expanding nuclear program, with the U.S. 
vowing "to use all means necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran" in a U.N. 
Security Council meeting on Monday.

   The U.S., France, Britain and Germany accused Iran of escalating its nuclear 
activities far beyond limits it agreed to in a 2015 deal aimed at preventing 
Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, and of failing to cooperate with the 
U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

   Iran and Russia accused the U.S. and its allies of continuing to apply 
economic sanctions that were supposed to be lifted under the deal, and insisted 
that Tehran's nuclear program remains under constant oversight by the IAEA.

   The clashes came at a semi-annual meeting on implementation the nuclear deal 
between Iran and six major countries -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, 
France and Germany -- known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

   Under the accord, Tehran agreed to limit enrichment of uranium to levels 
necessary for the peaceful use of nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of 
economic sanctions.

   Then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018. Trump 
said he would negotiate a stronger deal, but that didn't happen.

   The council meeting followed an IAEA report in late May that Iran has more 
than 142 kilograms (313 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60% purity, a 
technical step away from weapons-grade level of 90%. The IAEA said this was an 
increase of over 20 kilograms (45 pounds) from February.

   The IAEA also reported on June 13 that its inspectors verified that Iran has 
started up new cascades of advanced centrifuges more quickly enrich uranium and 
planned to install more.

   U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the council that the IAEA reports 
"show that Iran is determined to expand its nuclear program in ways that have 
no credible civilian purpose."

   Wood said the U.S. is prepared to use all means to prevent a nuclear-armed 
Iran, but said it remains "fully committed to resolving international concerns 
surrounding Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy."

   The three Western countries that remain in the JCPOA -- France, Germany and 
the United Kingdom -- issued a joint statement after the council meeting also 
leaving the door open for diplomatic efforts "that ensure Iran never develops a 
nuclear weapon."

   They said Iran's stockpile of highly enriched uranium is now 30 times the 
JCPOA limit, and stressed that Iran committed not to install or operate any 
centrifuges for enrichment under the JCPOA.

   Their joint statement also noted that "Iranian officials have issued 
statements about its capacity to assemble a nuclear weapon."

   Iran's U.N. Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani blamed "the unilateral and 
unlawful U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA" and the failure of the three European 
parties to the deal "to honor their commitments," saying it is "crystal clear" 
they are responsible for the current non-functioning of the agreement.

   In the face of U.S. and European sanctions, he said, Iran has the right to 
halt its commitments under the JCPOA.

   Iravani reiterated Iran's rejection of nuclear weapons, and insisted its 
nuclear activities including enrichment are "for peaceful purposes" and are 
subject to "robust verification and monitoring" by the IAEA.

   The Iranian ambassador strongly endorsed the JCPOA, calling it a hard-won 
diplomatic achievement "that effectively averted an undue crisis."

   "It remains the best option, has no alternative, and its revival is indeed 
in the interest of all of its participants," he said. "Our remedial measures 
are reversible if all sanctions are lifted fully and verifiably."

   But France, Germany and the UK said some of Iran's nuclear advances are 

   Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said U.S. promises "to abandon the 
policy of maximum pressure on Tehran and to return to the nuclear deal remained 
empty words."

   He accused some other JCPOA parties, which he didn't name, of "doing 
everything possible to continuously rock the boat, jettisoning opportunities 
for the implementation of the nuclear deal."

   Nebenzia urged the European parties to the agreement and the United States 
to return to the negotiating table in Vienna and "demonstrate their commitment 
to the objective of restoration of the nuclear deal."

   EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the coordinator of the JCPOA, said 
the compromise text he put forward two years ago for the U.S. to return to the 
JCPOA and for Iran to resume full implementation of the agreement remains on 
the table.

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