NATO and EU officials call for return to Iranian nuclear deal as Iran threatens to increase uranium enrichment

BRUSSELS — As the Iranian nuclear agreement remains suspended and without prospects for a near-term solution, increasing the risks to the security and stability of the region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said during an interview with CNN that the Alliance has concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its ability to link it through its missile program.

Stoltenberg noted that the Alliance welcomes U.S. efforts to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and stressed the importance of restricting Iran’s access to nuclear weapons.

EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Burrell said at a press conference after the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels that the EU wants Iran to return to the agreement and called for Washington to lift the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump Administration. Burrell added that he will look for appropriate solutions as coordinator of the action plan.

The statements of the officials coincided with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s announcement that his country is ready to increase uranium enrichment from 20 to 60 percent for nuclear propulsion engines or other events, if necessary, adding that the parties to the nuclear deal know that Tehran has no intention of acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The White House has not directly commented on the Iranian announcement, however, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the Iranian announcement of increasing enrichment is a threat.

As for the recent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq’s Green Zone, Price said the U.S. is very angry about it, and went on to say that work is under way to determine who did it, noting that the U.S. will hold Iran responsible for the actions of the associated organizations which have been carrying out attacks on Americans.

Price stressed that the missiles used in the recent attacks were manufactured in Iran and transported to Iraq.

The U.S. response will be balanced, said Price, and will not contribute to Iranian attempt to destabilize Iraq further.