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(Update 2 days ago)

PARIS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and the European countries party to the Iran nuclear deal pushed back on Wednesday against Tehran’s decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, with the top U.S. diplomat calling the move “provocative” and questioning Iran’s seriousness about talks.

Iran has said it will enrich uranium to 60% - a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material - in response to what it says was an act of sabotage by Israel against its key nuclear facility last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tehran’s intent raised questions about its seriousness over the talks in Vienna between Iran and the world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.

“We take very seriously its provocative announcement of an intent to begin enriching uranium at 60 percent,” Blinken told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “I have to tell you the step calls into question Iran’s seriousness with regard the nuclear talks,” he said.

The nuclear deal has unravelled as Iran has breached its limits on uranium enrichment in a graduated response to the U.S. withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and Washington’s reinstatement of harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Last week, Iran and fellow signatories held what they described as “constructive” talks to restore the deal ditched by the Trump administration - which saw the terms as too lenient on Tehran.

 

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