Iran’s top security body called Saturday for unity on the country’s nuclear policy following a public row between the government and parliament over a bill to suspend UN inspections and boost uranium enrichment
The bill “for the lifting of sanctions and protection of the Iranian people’s interests” was approved by the powerful Guardian Council on Wednesday and has to be signed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to become law.
Having drawn heated opposition from the government, the bill calls on the administration to end UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and to “produce and store 120 kilograms (265 pounds) per year of uranium enriched to 20 percent.”
Both steps would run counter to commitments made by Tehran in a landmark deal with major powers in 2015 and would likely complicate efforts to get Washington back on board after outgoing US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018.
In a statement published by Iranian media on Saturday, the Supreme National Security Council said that the bill “does not produce any specific issue for national interests.”
“In contrast, what is against national interests and a cause for concern is this ruckus which has damaged the position and status of the country’s legal bodies,” it said.
The body condemned “recent remarks and attitudes” which have “sacrificed national for partisan interests, have no benefit for the country and send the wrong message” to Iran’s foes.
It called on authorities to focus on “reinforcing national unity” and vowed to prevent Iran’s interests becoming “a plaything in the hands of politicians.”
Passage of the bill, which was first drafted in early November, was speeded up following the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed on a major road outside Tehran last week in a bomb and gun attack that Iran has blamed on its arch foe Israel.
Fakhrizadeh headed a program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that the “structured program” ended in 2003, while Israel says Iran is still aiming to develop nuclear weapons, pointing to its work on ballistic missiles and other technologies.
The security council statement came after Rouhani and parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf exchanged sharp remarks in a public dispute in recent days.
On Wednesday, the president called the bill “detrimental to the course of diplomatic activities.”
The advancement of the bill comes as Iran seeks to step up pressure on the incoming Biden administration to return to the original deal. US President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he will return to the accord but said he wants to institute changes.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday his country won’t agree to renegotiate elements of the agreement.