Tehran, Iran – Following the assassination of a leading nuclear scientist near Tehran, Iran’s conservative parliament has called for international inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities to be suspended as an appropriate response to the murder.
In a statement signed by all MPs, the legislature said on Sunday that “the hand of the murderous Zionist regime” was clearly seen in the murder of top scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed after an explosion and subsequent gunfire on Friday.
According to the legislature, what encouraged Israel to take this step is “a harmful mindset from some government officials” who believe that negotiations with the West would, in their eyes, turn Iran into a “normal” state, and Iran must do so therefore do not fight it.
“But the experiences of terror and sabotage by the US, Israel and their other allies in the country in recent years, which unfortunately have largely remained inadequate response, have shown how wrong and dangerous this way of thinking is,” the statement said .
Read at a public session, the statement added that this mindset has encouraged rivals and plunged the country into tensions unprecedented since the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988.
MPs called for an “immediate and punitive response” to foreign aggression, the best of which is to “revive our country’s brilliant nuclear industry”.
This goal can be achieved by ending the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and suspending inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
During a demonstration on Saturday, protesters hold pictures of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s leading nuclear scientist [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]Under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to significantly curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of multilateral sanctions and has continued to allow IAEA inspectors to this day.
The Additional Protocol is not a stand-alone agreement, but contains voluntary measures that improve the IAEA’s ability to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear materials in a country.
Iran has long claimed that its nuclear program is peaceful.
Exactly one year after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal and began its increasingly intense sanctions campaign with “maximum pressure” in May 2018, President Hassan Rouhani’s government began to gradually reduce Iran’s nuclear commitments, as the steps are reversible.
But since the unilateral withdrawal of US President Donald Trump, conservatives and hardliners have been pressing for the Iranian nuclear program to be brought back to pre-nuclear levels.
They were strengthened when they occupied an overwhelming majority of the parliamentary seats after the February elections, which saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s four decades of history.
Sunday’s statement does not create a legal obligation for the government and the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, but MPs are finalizing a bill to create that obligation.
The bill, which is known as the Strategic Law to Lift Sanctions, creates the basis for the implementation of all demands in the legislator’s declaration.
The bill, which contains nine articles, also obliges the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency to produce at least 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium annually, revitalize the Fordow plant and, among other things, increase the number of advanced centrifuges.
The bill says that the states that signed the deal without the US should be fully brought back into line with the nuclear deal to ensure Iran reaps the economic benefits promised under the deal. If these conditions are met, the bill also provides for Iran to be fully reconciled.
Parliament voted on Sunday to speed up the law, which is expected to be reviewed later this week.
“No signal of weakness or trust”
Speaking in parliament on Sunday, Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said the Iranian people had suffered many casualties, such as Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, but held out.
“Once again, they will prove to the enemy that the ordeal of Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will open a new window to the country’s progress and deplore these shameful terrorists and their supporters,” he said.
The politician, who ran against Rouhani in the 2017 presidential election and is considered a potential candidate for next year’s race, said the only way to deter future attacks is to show a “strong reaction”.
All forces and organizations in Iran may refrain from “sending signals that indicate weakness or trust in the US political system,” he said.
Iranian authorities have vowed “hard vengeance” after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, the same promise made after Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a Trump-ordered drone strike in Iraq in early January.
The escalation comes weeks before Trump is forced to leave the White House after losing the presidential election to rival Joe Biden, who has pledged to reverse his tough campaign against Iran.