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. 


Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
Updated 22 min 2 sec ago

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
  • Twitter has yet to act on the Persian-language tweet by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority
  • Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei saying US and UK-made vaccines were unreliable

DUBAI: The Twitter account of Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday carried the image of a golfer resembling former President Donald Trump apparently being targeted by a drone, vowing revenge over the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone attack.
The post carried the text of remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in December, in which he said “Revenge is certain,” renewing a vow of vengeance ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of top military commander General Qassem Soleimani in the attack in Iraq.
“Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Khamenei tweeted on December 16, without naming Trump, who had ordered the strike.

Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei in which he said US and British-made vaccines were unreliable and may be intended to “contaminate other nations.” The platform said the tweet violated its rules against misinformation.
There was no apparent immediate action by Twitter over the Persian-language tweet on Friday by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority.
Tensions rapidly grew between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Iran called for action and “not just words” shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as US president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.