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Counter-sanctions law gives Iran nuclear industry good chance to improve’: Top lawmaker

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of Iranian media, accompanied by nuclear officials, visit the Natanz nuclear facility. (Photo by Tasnim)

Iran’s senior parliamentarian says the country’s nuclear industry has been given a “good opportunity” to improve now that the legislative body has moved to enable the government to strengthen its countermeasures against Western violations of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal.

On Tuesday, the parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the general outlines of a draft bill that requires the administration to widen the scope of the retaliatory measures.

The details of the legislation will be discussed in other readings before approval.

Iran started the counter-steps in 2018 after the United States left the nuclear agreement between the Islamic Republic and world powers, and reimposed the sanctions that the agreement had lifted. The reprisal was also targeting the failure of the UK, France, and Germany — the US’s allies in the agreement — to stand up to the sanctions.

In January, Tehran said it was suspending its obligations under the deal and abandon restrictions on uranium enrichment and other activities unless the economic restrictions were lifted.

Now, the draft bill is asking the country to, among other things, to produce at least 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country instead of shipping it abroad.

Majlis (the Iranian Parliament)’s Speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf said the measure “creates a good opportunity for the country’s nuclear activities [to advance] in the research and industrial aspects.”

By voting in favor of the draft legislation, the parliament “closed down the one-way road featuring Iran’s unrequited commitment to the JCPOA,” Qalibaf said. He was referring by abbreviation to the nuclear deal that is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Not only has the West refused to live up to its JCPOA obligations, Qalibaf said, it has also refused to condemn as a terrorist act the recent assassination of senior Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which is highly suspected to be the work of Israel.

A former head of the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, Fakhrizadeh was targeted in a terror attack involving at least one explosion and machinegun fire in the town of Absard near Tehran on Friday.

The top legislator warned that if Western countries continued their violation of the nuclear deal and the sanctions remained effective, Iran will still widen its retaliation.

Qalibaf, however, reminded that the draft bill has provided the West with the opportunity to return to its nuclear commitments, in which case “the issue will be negotiable.”

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