Photo Credit: Tehran Times
Uranium enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility.

US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement Saturday expressing their ‘grave concern’ over Iran’s nuclear progress.

The four leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in Rome.

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The four leaders expressed their “grave and growing concern” over the Islamic Republic’s accelerated pace of nuclear development and vowed to ensure “Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.”

They also committed to continuing to “work closely” with Russia, China, and the European Union High Representative “in resolving this critical issue.”

Russia and China – the other two participants in the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran – did not take part in the joint statement, nor were they at the meeting with the other four world leaders.

On Friday Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US was sanctioning six Iranian targets linked to the regime’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle activities. “We are firmly committed to countering all of Iran’s threatening activity and those who support it,” he said in a tweet.

Iran is being held responsible for a combat drone attack on an American military base at al-Tanf in Syria earlier this month. At least five drones loaded with explosives were directed at the base.

The full text of the joint statement follows.

* * * * *

Full Text of Joint Statement, Oct. 30, 2021

“We, the President of France, Chancellor of Germany, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and President of the United States, met in Rome today to discuss the risks posed to international security by Iran’s escalating nuclear program. We expressed our determination to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon and shared our grave and growing concern that, while Iran halted negotiations on a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) since June, it has accelerated the pace of provocative nuclear steps, such as the production of highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal. Iran has no credible civilian need for either measure, but both are important to nuclear weapons programs.

These steps have only been made more alarming by Iran’s simultaneously decreased cooperation and transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We agreed that continued Iranian nuclear advances and obstacles to the IAEA’s work will jeopardize the possibility of a return to the JCPOA.

The current situation underscores the importance of a negotiated solution that provides for the return of Iran and the U.S. to full compliance with the JCPOA and provides the basis for continued diplomatic engagement to resolve remaining points of contention – both our concerns and Iran’s. In this spirit, we welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to return the U.S. to full compliance with the JCPOA and to stay in full compliance, so long as Iran does the same.

We are convinced that it is possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to full compliance and to ensure for the long term that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Return to JCPOA compliance will provide sanctions lifting with long-lasting implications for Iran’s economic growth. This will only be possible if Iran changes course. We call upon President Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency. That is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in any country’s interest.

We welcome our Gulf partners’ regional diplomatic efforts to deescalate tensions and note that return to the JCPOA would result both in sanctions lifting allowing for enhanced regional partnerships and a reduced risk of a nuclear crisis that would derail regional diplomacy. We also affirm our shared determination to address broader security concerns raised by Iran’s actions in the region.

We are committed to continuing to work closely with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and the European Union High Representative, as Coordinator, in resolving this critical issue.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.