28th May 2022

EU skeptical about Iran nuclear deal

The EU on Monday (17 May) expressed reservations over a surprise deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil under which Iran would ship enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for nuclear fuel.

The pact - agreed at the weekend by the foreign ministers of the three countries - commits Tehran to depositing 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in Turkey in return for fuel for a research reactor.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It comes after Iran and a broader group of countries under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) late last year agreed that there would be no fresh sanctions if Iran limited enrichment to a level of no more than 3 to 4 percent.

Tehran backed away from the proposal, citing disagreement about the details of the deal, which included a simultaneous swap, something the IAEA said was not feasible. Iran's stocks are now thought to be much larger than the 1,200 kilograms covered by the new agreement.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a news conference after the EU-Latin America summit in Madrid that: "The [Iranian] declaration you have seen today is a response to a request from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). From my reading of it, it partly addresses the issue they have raised."

She explained that the IAEA offer was a "goodwill gesture," but one that would not solve the underlying issue, of Tehran being suspected of carrying out a military nuclear programme.

"Where we are at the present time, they have my phone number," Ms Ashton added on the prospect of further talks.

France, who holds a veto right in the UN Security Council, took a tougher stance.

"Let's not be duped by this. A solution for the medical reactor, while necessary, would in no way resolve the problem posed by the Iranian nuclear programme," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

The US also expressed "serious concerns" about the new deal, which could undermine its push for a fresh set of sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.

The US points to the fact that the Brazilian-Turkish deal does not call upon Iran to stop its higher enrichment, now at 20 percent, with weapons-grade uranium being enriched to 90 percent. Swapping its low-enriched uranium will not stop it from continuing on this track, Washington explained.

"It does not change the steps that we are taking to hold Iran responsible for its obligations, including sanctions," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Russia, which also holds a permanent seat in the UN decision making body, welcomed the pact, but said further talks were needed on Iran's nuclear programme.

As for the IAEA, it said it had received the text of the joint declaration by Iran, Brazil and Turkey, but was now expecting Tehran to notify it directly of precisely what commitments it had undertaken.

France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that Poland's recovery plan could be approved within a week. This could also help unblock Warsaw's reluctance to agree to the tax deal.

MEPs boycott trip after Israeli snub

Last-minute Israeli blacklistings and red lines have prompted MEPs to call off an official trip, posing the question if Israel can belittle the EU Parliament with impunity.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

EU countries need to refill stockpiles after several member states supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, and to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems, and reinforce air defence.


When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.


Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us