Iranian panel okays bill hardening nuclear stance, sends it to president

A key Iranian panel has signed off on a bill to suspend UN inspections and boost uranium enrichment, sending it to Iran’s president, who opposes the measure.

Iranian state TV says the constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, approved the bill and formally sent it to Hassan Rouhani who now has five working days to officially sign off on a bill to make it executable.

Rouhani earlier on Wednesday expressed his opposition to the bill approved by parliament the previous day, saying it would be “harmful” to diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal and easing US sanctions.

The bill would suspend UN inspections and require the government to resume enriching uranium to 20% if European nations fail to provide relief from crippling US sanctions on the country’s oil and banking sectors. That level falls short of the threshold needed for nuclear weapons but is higher than that required for civilian purposes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, November 8, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Rouhani said his administration “does not agree with that and considers it harmful for the trend of diplomatic activities.” He implied the lawmakers were positioning themselves ahead of elections planned for June.

Even if Rouhani were to change his mind and approve the bill, it is unlikely to have an impact as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on all major policies, including those related to the nuclear program. His opinion on the issue is not known.

Under the law, if the president refuses to sign the bill, it will be automatically signed by the parliament speaker to go into effect.

Tuesday’s approval by lawmakers appeared to be a show of defiance after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key figure in Iran’s nuclear program, was killed in an attack Iranian officials have blamed on Israel.

with AP

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