Iran’s lawyer admits nuclear expansion is a lever for Joe Biden’s speeches

Iran’s parliamentary spokesman has acknowledged that plans to expand the country’s nuclear program – contrary to international demands – are designed to give Tehran more leeway in talks with President Joe Biden about the recovery of the Integrated Action Plan nuclear treaty.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a conservative politician, former mayor of Tehran and a three-time primary school candidate, said on Friday that the legislation was a “bargaining chip” by JCPOA to expand uranium-rich production and blocking international scrutiny, “BBC News Persian said.

The measures were approved by conservation-controlled parliament – despite the objections of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – following the assassination of leading nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November.

Israel is widely believed to be to blame, although Tehran has accused the U.S. of supporting or endorsing the operation.

Iran’s parliament ordered the country’s atomic group to enrich uranium to a higher level than previously agreed and expand its enrichment capabilities. The JCPOA limited enrichment to 3.67 percent, enough for civilian power plants.

Under the legislation, uranium enrichment is expected to rise to 20 percent – from which it is a relatively short technical measure to 90 percent, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Parliament also ordered the detention of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from February 21, although Zarif was given a last-minute contract to allow limited access for three months.

The legislation has been criticized in the US and by the three European signatories of the nuclear treaty – Germany, France and the UK They have all asked Tehran to reverse these measures and return to full JCPOA compliance, after President Donald Trump relinquished the deal in 2018.

Qalibaf said Friday that the measures would benefit Iran in JCPOA talks proposed by Washington, DC “This law will help build greater sanctions and empower us,” the Speaker said.

“Negotiations are underway now,” Qalibaf said, although both sides have denied that talks have begun. “This law is a bargaining chip, creating more opportunities for communication and building sanctions, “he said.

Conservatives in Iran’s parliament have been putting pressure on the Rouhani government over the JCPOA, although Qalibaf said lawmakers were unanimous in their support for sanctions.

Iran’s leaders want all sanctions from the Trump era to be lifted before they return to JCPOA surrender. But Biden wants Iran to scale back its nuclear activities in line with the agreement before sanctions are lifted.

The U.S. and its allies remain concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile program, cyber attacks and the regional network of proxy forces, which will be routinely used to attack American troops and interests and allies.

Ioran guards expect their position to be strengthened in June, when Rouhani’s term comes to an end and hardware may take over the ribs. Leading candidates include several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials, which could mean more difficult nuclear talks for Biden if the JCPOA cannot revive in Rouhani’s final months.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Speaker of the Iranian parliament, pictured in Tehran in 2013.
BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP through Getty Images