G7 warns Iran over continuing nuclear programme escalation

Italy hosts G7 summit

BARI, Italy (Reuters) - The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment programme and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.

"We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications," the statement seen by Reuters said.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, close to the 90% of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.

"Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June," the G7 said.

Iran says its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.

"We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security," they said.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Alison Williams and Tomasz Janowski)