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Europe should mull renewed sanctions on Iran over nuclear breaches, Germany…

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* EU concerned about Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment

* Germans, French and British will weigh next steps in Paris talks

* International sanctions may return under 2015 agreement

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain, France and Germany must be ready to respond to Iran's violations of its 2015 nuclear deal and that could mean reinstating international sanctions on Tehran, although Europe still wants to save the deal, the minister said. German Foreign Relations. on Monday.

Iran said last week it resumed low-grade uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear power plant and over the weekend said it could refine up to 60% of fissile purity, not far from the 90% level needed for fuel. of nuclear bombs – the most significant violations of the deal with world powers.

Iran says its violations were prompted by the United States' withdrawal from the deal last year and its reinstatement of sanctions that strangled Tehran's oil exports, and would return to compliance if Washington did so.

But the three European parties in the 2015 agreement, aimed at restricting any possibility of Iran developing a nuclear bomb, expressed alarm as they resumed enrichment, fearing that it would make recovery very difficult.

Arriving at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would meet his British and French colleagues in Paris later Monday to discuss next steps.

"Iran must finally return to its commitments. Otherwise, we reserve the right to use all the mechanisms specified in the agreement," said Maas, referring to the measures under which international sanctions lifted under the pact could be reinstated.

"We see with growing concern that uranium enrichment continues and Iran not only announced it, but it continues," Maas told reporters.

Under the terms of the agreement, if any of the European signatories believe Iran has violated it, they could trigger a dispute settlement process that could – in just 65 days – culminate in the UN Security Council with the so-called "snapback". UN global sanctions on Iran.

So far, the European position is that the International Atomic Energy Agency and its inspectors should first check Iran's latest enrichment announcements, EU diplomats said.

The story goes on

The European position is crucial because, after US President Donald Trump has renounced the agreement, signed before taking office, the other signatories – Russia and China – are allies of Iran and will hardly make such a move.

"ALL OPTIONS"

Iran's violations of the main boundaries of the agreements, including on enriched uranium stocks and the level of enrichment – 3.7%, considered adequate for civil nuclear energy – could culminate in the return of all international sanctions against Tehran.

The European Union, while desperate to bail out the deal it helped negotiate, failed to persuade Iran to stick to it because the EU's efforts to protect Iran's trade and financial dividends linked to the deal were hampered by US sanctions.

Iran's reactivation of Fordow is especially sensitive as it has concealed the site of UN nonproliferation inspectors until its exposure in 2009, and is built into a mountain to withstand air strikes.

The Islamic Republic has long maintained that it wants nuclear power for civilian applications only.

The Trump administration argues that the 2015 agreement did not restrict Iran's nuclear capability of sufficient severity or duration and failed to address its ballistic missile program.

While other EU governments are not directly involved in trying to strengthen the nuclear deal, their opinion is important to Berlin, Paris and London.

"All options must be discussed, we have to keep up the pressure because we see no progress (with Tehran)," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told Reuters. (Reporting by Robin Emmott)

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