Iran hardens nuclear stance after assassination

Iran hardens nuclear stance after assassination
2 min read
03 December, 2020
The Guardian Council has approved a new law advocating increased uranium enrichment levels and a halt to UN inspections.
The new law also requires Iran to significantly increase uranium enrichment levels [getty]
Iran's Guardian Council approved a law on Wednesday obliging the Islamic Republic to halt the UN inspection of nuclear sites, further distancing Tehran from commitments made under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

The move comes after the assassination last week of the country's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

Iran has blamed Israel for the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who headed Tehran's now-disbanded nuclear arms programme.

The hardline-dominated parliament passed a bill on Tuesday advocating the ramping up of Iran's uranium enrichment past limits set under the 2015 deal and prevent the inspection of nuclear sites by United Nations officials.

That law has now been approved by the Guardian Council, a body which is charged with ensuring draft laws do not violate Iran's constitution or the country's interpetration of Shia Islamic law.

"Today in a letter, the parliament speaker officially asked the president to implement the new law," reported the semi-official Fars news agency.

The new law will make it more difficult for the United States to rejoin the 2015 nuclear pact under the incoming Joe Biden administration, Reuters reported.

Washington exited the accord in 2018, and the Trump administration thereafter pursued a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, imposing rafts of harsh sanctions and killing one of Tehran's top military commanders in a 2020 drone strike.
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President-elect Biden has promised to rejoin the deal as long as Tehran sticks to the requirements underlined within it.

Hardliners within Iran have pushed for the government to eschew those limits, however, motivating legislation such as that approved by the Guardian Council on Wednesday.

President Hassan Rouhani, one of the architects of the 2015 accord, has described the new law as "harmful to diplomatic efforts".

The legislation would require the government to push far past uranium enrichment limits outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal says Iran can refine uranium to a fissile purity of no more than 3.67 percent.

Tehran breached that cap in Jul lasty year, with enrichment levels at up to 4.5 percent since then.

The new law advocates for the Islamic Republic to resume pre-JCPOA enrichment levels of 20 percent, as well as for the government to install new advanced centrifuges at two nuclear facilities.

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