Iran watchdog passes law on hardening nuclear stance, halting UN inspections

Iran watchdog passes law on hardening nuclear stance, halting UN inspections
Iran's watchdog body approved a law that obliges the government to halt UN inspections of its nuclear sites if sanctions are not eased in a month. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2020

Iran watchdog passes law on hardening nuclear stance, halting UN inspections

Iran watchdog passes law on hardening nuclear stance, halting UN inspections
  • Under the new law, Tehran gives one month to the deal's European parties to ease sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors
  • Rouhani criticised parliament's move as "harmful to diplomatic efforts" aimed at easing US sanctions

DUBAI: Iran's watchdog body approved a law on Wednesday 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 a month.
In retaliation for the killing last week of Iran's top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, Iran's hardline-dominated parliament on Tuesday approved the bill with a strong majority that will harden Iran's nuclear stance.
The Guardian Council is charged with ensuring draft laws do not contradict Shi'ite 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.
Under the new law, Tehran gives one month to the deal's European parties to ease sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors, imposed after Washington quit the pact between Tehran and six 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 lawmakers would make it harder for US President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on Jan. 20, to rejoin the agreement.
Biden has said he would return to the pact and would lift sanctions if Tehran returned to "strict compliance with the nuclear deal".
Iran's pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, the architect of the 2015 deal, criticised parliament's move as "harmful to diplomatic efforts" aimed at easing US sanctions.
Under the new law, the government should resume uranium enrichment to 20% 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%, far below the 20% achieved before the deal and below the weapons-grade level of 90%. Iran breached the 3.67% cap in July 2019 and the enrichment level has remained steady at up to 4.5% since then.
Iran has contravened many of the deal’s restrictions but is still cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog, granting inspectors access under one of the most intrusive nuclear verification regimes imposed on any nation.
Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the 2015 deal, have urged Iran to fully respect it. 


Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
A military vehicle is stationed on the tarmac of Yemen’s Aden airport. Yemen says the Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace to the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2021

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
  • International community urged not to surrender to ‘blackmailing and intimidation’ 
  • Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace, Yemen PM said

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s prime minister has vowed to address any impact on humanitarian assistance or the remittances of citizens abroad following the US move to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed also urged the international community not to surrender to “Houthi blackmailing” and intimidation.
Saeed defended his government’s strong support of the designation during a virtual interview with foreign journalists sponsored by the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that his government had formed a committee to handle any effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Houthi-controlled areas and the remittances of Yemenis abroad.
“We are determined to prevent any impact of the decision on the Yemenis. We have formed a committee to mitigate effects of the decision,” he said.
When the US announced its intention to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization last week, Yemen’s government quickly urged the US administration to put the decision in place, predicting it would stop Houthi crimes and their looting of humanitarian assistance, and would smoothe the way for peace.
Referring to the impact of the US designation on peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, Saeed said that the decision would not undermine peace efforts. He said that the Houthis would be accepted as part of the Yemeni political and social spectrum when they abandoned hard-line ideologies and embraced equality and justice.

The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, Yemen’s prime minister

“This is an important pressure card on them and a real definition of them,” he said, adding that the Yemenis would not allow the Houthi movement to rule them.
“Yemen would not be ruled by a racist and terrorist group,” he said.
Formed under the Riyadh Agreement, Yemen’s new government’s ministers narrowly escaped death on Dec. 30 when three precision-guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after their plane touched down.
The government accused the Houthis of staging the attack, saying that missile fragments collected from the airport showed that they were similar to missiles that targeted Marib city in the past.
The prime minister said that the Yemeni government had offered many concessions to reach an agreement to end the war. It had agreed to engage in direct talks with the Houthis in Stockholm in 2018 despite the fact that the Yemeni government forces were about to seize control of the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. However, the Stockholm Agreement had failed to bring peace to Yemen, he said.
“The government forces were about to capture the city within five days maximum. The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed,” Saeed said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Friday appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghar, a former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, as president of the Shoura Council.
Hadi also appointed Ahmed Ahmed Al-Mousai as the country’s new attorney general.
Fighting continues
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis broke out on Sunday for the third consecutive day in contested areas in the districts of Hays and Durihimi in the western province of Hodeidah. Official media said that dozens of Houthi rebels and several government troops were killed in the fighting and loyalists pushed back three assaults by Houthis in Durihimi district.
In neighboring Hays, the Joint Forces media said on Sunday that the Houthis hit government forces with heavy weapons before launching a ground attack in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the district.
The Houthis failed to make any gains and lost dozens of fighters along with several military vehicles that were burnt in the fighting, the same media outlets said. Heavy artillery shelling and land mines planted by the Houthis have killed more than 500 civilians since late 2018, local rights groups said.