Boris Johnson to hold talks with G20 leaders on reviving Iran nuclear deal amid uranium
Western powers including the UK will today hold talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal amid concerns over the country’s escalation of uranium enrichment.
But it is unclear if Boris Johnson will use a meeting with allies to raise the plight of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained in Iran for more than five years.
The Prime Minister will meet US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the margins of the G20 summit in Rome on Saturday.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said there was “limited time” to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, signalling this week the group was ready to return to talks in Vienna before the end of November.
“The Iran nuclear deal is the best option on the table for preventing Iran getting nuclear weapons,” the PM’s spokesman said. “It is extremely important that Iran returns to compliance.”
Asked if Mr Johnson would use the meeting to drum up allies’ support on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, the spokesman said: “I’m not going to predict exactly what will be discussed in that meeting, the focus of it is on the Iran nuclear deal.”
The deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled out of the accord but the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve it.
Iran has claimed its nuclear programme is peaceful. But further concerns emerged this month after the country’s nuclear chief reported that Iran has produced more than 265lb (120kg) of 20% enriched uranium – far more than the UN nuclear watchdog reported in September.
Scientists estimate at least 375lb (170kg) of 20% enriched uranium is needed to make a bomb.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 43-year-old mother-of-one from Hampstead, north London, has been detained in Iran since 2016 on spying charges she denies, and has not seen her young daughter, Gabriella, for two years.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike to try to secure her release.
She has been serving the second of two prison sentences, and is currently on parole and staying with her mother in Iran – but she is not allowed to leave the country.