Senior MP says Fakhrizadeh assassination will change nuclear policy

‘Majlis focusing on 20% uranium, expelling IAEA inspectors, leaving JCPOA’

November 29, 2020 - 22:19

TEHRAN – A senior Iranian lawmaker has vowed to significantly raise uranium enrichment level and cease Iran’s cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog in response to the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, 59, was killed on Friday in a terrorist attack involving at least one explosion and small fire by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province. Several Iranian officials called for an end to Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Fereydoun Abbasidavani, the head of the Parliament Energy Committee, said in a tweet that the martyrdom of Fakhrizadeh will change the Parliament’s approach toward the nuclear issue.

Abbasidavani, who was chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) from February 2011 to August 2013, narrowly survived an assassination attempt in northern Tehran in November 2010. He holds PhD in nuclear physics.

“Right now, the Majlis will focus on four issues, which I will personally pursue: 1- starting 20-percent [uranium] enrichment, 2- expelling all Agency’s inspectors, 3- ending cooperation with the Agency, 4- withdrawing from the JCPOA,” the senior lawmaker said, referring to an acronym for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The Parliament has been reviewing a plan called “strategic action to lift sanctions” since at least early November. The plan is part of a broader strategy that aims to lift the United States sanctions on Iran. Iranian lawmakers had put forward a “strategic bill to lift sanctions” in early November that aims to force the U.S. into lifting sanctions on Iran through doubling down on nuclear activities. The Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee held two meetings last week to discuss the bill. During the meetings, the lawmakers approved some of the bill’s articles requiring the government to raise uranium enrichment levels to 20%.

Abolfazl Amouei, the spokesman for the parliamentary committee, said the committee discussed the bill on Monday and approved three articles of it.

“Despite Corona restrictions in Majlis (Parliament), the meeting was attended by two-thirds of the members. Discussing articles of the Strategic Action Plan for the lifting of sanctions was on the agenda. In today's meeting, three articles of this plan were reviewed and the opinions of the representatives were obtained and amendments were made to the clauses. Representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Central Bank, and the Parliamentary Research Center also attended the meeting,” Amouei told the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA) on Monday. According to Amouei, the three articles that were discussed on Monday include measures that, if adopted, would significantly increase Iran’s nuclear activities.

The spokesman said the first article of the bill is about obliging the government to raise the uranium enrichment level to 20%. The second article is about increasing Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium. And the third article stipulates that the government and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) must use IR-2M and IR-6 advanced centrifuges. These three articles were all approved by the lawmakers, according to Amouei.

The 9-article bill compels the government to jump-start Iran’s nuclear program by increasing the country’s nuclear activities such as producing at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with 20 percent purity at the Fordow nuclear facility every year and using more advanced centrifuges.