Draft Bill Hardening Nuclear Stance Clears First Hurdle in Iran’s Parliament

DUBAI (Reuters) -
Centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

A draft bill requiring Iran’s government to pursue uranium enrichment of 20%, and to disregard other restraints put on its nuclear program by an accord reached with foreign powers in 2015 cleared its first hurdle in parliament on Tuesday.

The legislation was proposed in the wake of the assassination of a top nuclear scientist on Friday, and the hardline-dominated parliament cleared the draft on the first reading in a session broadcast live on state radio.

The bill still has to be approved in a second reading and endorsed by a clerical body before it becomes law.

A senior Iranian official said on Monday an opposition group was suspected of complicity with Israel in the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an attack that has raised the prospect of heightened tensions between Tehran and its longtime enemy.

Parliament has often demanded without much success a hardening of Iran’s position on the nuclear issue in recent years.

Iran has already breached limits in its nuclear deal with world powers to protest at a U.S withdrawal from the accord. The maximum fissile purity to which it has enriched uranium has remained around 4.5%, above the deal’s 3.67% cap but below the 20% Iran has achieved before and the 90% required for a nuclear bomb.