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Iran to Step Up Enrichment After Scientist's Assassination

The country also says it will halt UN inspections.
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2020 1:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Less than a week after the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Iran on Wednesday passed a law requiring the government to increase the enrichment of uranium far beyond the maximum level established under a 2015 nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration, the New York Times reports. Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, linked to Iran’s disbanded military nuclear program, was killed Friday as he traveled in a car east of Tehran. Iran has alleged that Israel is behind the assassination, per the BBC. Israel, however, has remained quiet. Under the new law, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency must immediately start once again enriching uranium to a level of 20%, the Times says, which would allow Iran to achieve weapons-grade levels within six months.

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The law also calls for the government to halt UN inspections if oil and financial sanctions aren’t lifted within two months, per Reuters. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, speaker of Iran’s Parliament, said that passage of the law was a message to the West that the “one-way game is over,” according to the Times, which notes that the timing of the move “seems deliberately intended” to push President-elect Joseph Biden to quickly enter a nuclear deal with Iran upon taking office next month. The 2015 agreement, which the Trump administration backed out of in 2018, set enrichment levels to less than 4%. Biden has indicated that he would re-enter that agreement and lift sanctions, should Iran return to “strict compliance with the nuclear deal,” according to Reuters. (Read more Iran stories.)

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