Downing Street has described the news that Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with major foreign powers as extremely concerning.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had stockpiled more low grade enriched uranium than the deal permits – raising the spectre of greater confrontation with the US.
Theresa May’s spokesman said the UK was working with partners to decide what action should be taken.
He added: We have been consistently clear that our commitment to the (deal) depends on Iran complying in full with the terms of the deal and we urge them to reverse this step.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is speaking to Sky News Kay Burley live from 7pm this evening, said he was deeply worried about the breach, adding that the UK remains committed to making (the) deal work and using all diplomatic tools to deescalate regional tensions.
Under the deal, the Iranians agreed to export all enriched uranium in excess of a few hundred kilogrames.
But it stopped doing so in protest at US sanctions that have become more and more severe under the Trump administration.
The US, the Europeans, Russians and Chinese spent five years negotiating the deal, lifting sanctions in return for measures restricting Iran’s bomb-making capacity. But under Donald Trump America walked out on the deal.
The Iranians’ move is intended to put pressure on European nations to help them find ways around US sanctions and preserve what remains of the agreement. Europe says it is doing all it can.
The UK and its European partners have warned of grave consequences should Iran become in breach of the deal.
They are likely to play for time hoping they can persuade the Iranians to fall back in line.
The Americans and British believe the Iranians are behind mysterious limpet mine attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and Iran also shot down an American drone.
Now they have followed through on their threat to put themselves in breach of the nuclear deal. They are not blinking first in this geopolitical showdown.
The Trump team may have boxed themselves into a policy of ever increasing pressure on the Iranians. It may not be working but they have sworn themselves to continue applying the pressure.