Iran’s Guardian Council watchdog passes law on hardening nuclear stance and halting UN inspections

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Iran’s Guardian Council has approved a law that obliges the Government to halt UN inspections of its nuclear sites and step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, if sanctions are not eased in two months.

Iran’s parliament approved the bill with a strong majority, in retaliation for the killing last week of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the assassination.

The Guardian Council is charged with ensuring draft laws do not contradict Shiite Islamic laws or Iran’s constitution.

However, the stance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state, is not known.

“Today in a letter, the parliament speaker officially asked the President to implement the new law,” Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Under the new law, Tehran would give the deal’s European parties a two-month deadline to ease sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.

The sanctions were imposed after Washington quit the pact between Tehran and six world powers in 2018.

In reaction to US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy on Tehran, Iran has gradually reduced its compliance with the deal.

The law pushed by hardline politicians would make it harder for US president-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20, to rejoin the agreement.

Mr Biden has said he will return to the pact and lift sanctions if Tehran returns to “strict compliance with the nuclear deal”.

“There’s now more pressure on (President Hassan) Rouhani’s government to secure a US return to the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) quickly,” tweeted Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East researcher at the German Marshall Fund and Columbia University.

Mr Rouhani, the Iranian architect of the 2015 deal who is now President, criticised parliament’s move as “harmful to diplomatic efforts” which are aimed at easing US sanctions.

Under the new law, the Government should resume uranium enrichment to 20 per cent and install advanced centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.

The deal caps the fissile purity to which Iran can refine uranium at 3.67 per cent, far below the 20 per cent achieved before the deal and below the weapons-grade level of 90 per cent.

Iran breached the 3.67 per cent cap in July 2019 and the enrichment level has remained steady at up to 4.5 per cent since then.

Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the 2015 deal, have urged Iran to fully respect it.

Source » abc news

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