In Brief: European powers rap Iran as court upholds journalist’s death sentence

Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, Iran. Photo: Nanking2012, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a warning to Iran after Tehran announced plans to install additional, advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges and potentially expand its nuclear programme. The warning came as the country’s supreme court upheld a death sentence on a journalist the regime claims helped fuel unrest on social media during the widespread and violently suppressed 2017 anti-government protests.
“If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps,” the European powers, who along with the US, China and Russia, reached the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The Trump administration withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran. Iran, in turn, has repeatedly breached the terms of the accord.
The Reuters news agency said it has seen a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report which said Iran plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in its enrichment plant at Natanz, which was built underground apparently to withstand any aerial bombardment.
“Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the [2015 agreement] and deeply worrying,”  the European states said. They also criticised a new law passed by the Iranian parliament last week which bans UN inspections of nuclear sites and seeks to expand enrichment beyond the limits set by the JCPOA.
Ruhollah Zam, a Paris-based dissident journalist, was convicted of “corruption on earth” by an Iranian court in June. He ran the Amadnews website, a popular anti-government forum which Iran says incited the 2017-18 protests against corruption, austerity and the lack of democracy. It remains unclear how Iran came to arrest Zam who had left the country after he was imprisoned in 2009.
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