European countries backing the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran said rising tensions underline "the need for diplomatic efforts toward de-escalation and resumption of dialogue."
A joint statement Friday from Germany, France, Britain and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini voiced concern over Iran's latest nuclear actions taken more than a year after the United States withdrew from the deal and reimposed tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
This week, the United Nations' atomic watchdog confirmed that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, another measure to cross the limits in the nuclear deal that is slowly unraveling after US President Donald Trump’s pullout.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in its report of Sept. 8 that advanced centrifuges had been installed or were being installed in Natanz (nuclear site). We are deeply concerned by these activities,” the European powers said.
The Europeans said they "are concerned by the risk that the (accord) further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States since May 2018 and following Iran's decisions to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement."
The four European signatories of the 2015 accord called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency "on all relevant matters, including safeguards issues."
They urged Iran "to reverse all activities that are inconsistent with its commitments."
“We continue to support the JCPOA (nuclear accord) and urge Iran to reverse its activities that violate its JCPOA commitments, and to refrain from all further action.”
European powers led by French President Emmanuel Macron have been scrambling to try to save the accord and to convince Iran “to abide by the agreement.”
Tehran on Wednesday said the US and Israel are applying "undue pressure" on the IAEA to vet its nuclear program and warned it could be "counterproductive" to its cooperation with the agency.
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said statements by Israel and the US could jeopardize Iran's "constructive, timely and proactive cooperation" with the watchdog.
AP, AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.