Iran Parliament Threatens Nuclear Escalation After Assassination Of Official
In reaction to the assassination of Iran's nuclear operative Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on Friday, the Iranian Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to urgently review a motion to halt Iran's voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Out of 246 lawmakers present at the session on Sunday, 232 voted in favor of a double urgency motion which had been submitted to the Parliament in early November, and now speeded up in view of Fakhrizadeh's assassination. The bill would oblige Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) to halt the implementation of NPT’s Additional Protocol, affecting the UN’s nuclear watchdog’s verification of Iran’s nuclear activities. In addition, the draft bill would demand AEOI to enrich uranium at a higher level.
In his pre-agenda address today, Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) urged "strong reaction" to the killing of Fakhrizadeh and once again warned about any talks with the United States. "The murderous enemy will not repent unless there is a strong reaction which can deter the enemy's future mistakes and retaliates the enemy's crimes," he told the lawmakers while warning the government "not to send any signals of weakness or trust to the American political system."
The message advocating a strong deterrent response to the killing was also reflected in the hardliner Kayhan newspaper on Sunday.
"Displaying a need for negotiations [with the United States] gives the wrong message to the enemy that Iran is weak," Ghalibaf said and added that the Parliament motion will "show the enemy that their calculations were completely wrong."
Halting the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol of NPT will seriously hamper the IAEA's access to Iran's nuclear sites. The Additional Protocol is a protocol to a safeguards agreement that provides additional tools for verification. In particular, it significantly increases the IAEA's ability to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear material in states with comprehensive safeguards agreements.
Some Iranian officials have accused IAEA inspectors of spying on Iran and assisting Israel.
Hossein Salimi, Spokesman of the Parliament's Presidium, repeated these allegations today. He was quoted by Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Gyard, as saying after today's closed session that the Parliament does not trust IAEA inspectors and suspects them of being involved in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists,.
According to the motion approved by lawmakers today to consider the bill, the AEOI should start enriching at least 120 kg of uranium to at least 20 percent purity annually within two months of the bill’s ratification and install at least 1,000 advanced centrifuges at Natanz enrichment facility.
If the bill is passed in the coming days, the AEOI would be obliged to start the installation of at least 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges and gas injection, enrichment, and storage of nuclear materials within a period of three months and to stop any regulatory access beyond the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) within two months of its enactment.
The parliamentary bill also ties the escalation of the nuclear retaliatory steps to the policies of European powers, Germany France and UK that are signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. If after three months the European countries start trade with Iran, the steps enacted by the bill will be reversed.
After the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA and imposed sanctions, Iran has been demanding that European powers should ignore the sanctions and continue trade. Europe has hesitated, trying to walk a tightrope, being well aware that private companies will not break US sanctions for their own legal reasons.