Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his administration is opposed to an action plan against sanctions that is under discussion at the Parliament, saying the emergency bill, if passed into law, will be detrimental to the diplomatic process aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Rouhani made the remarks during a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, the same day his administration submitted the annual budget bill to the Parliament for approval.
The president said his administration “does not agree” with the bill, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, whose outlines were overwhelmingly approved by the legislators on Tuesday.
The administration, he said, “considers it harmful to the trend of diplomatic activities” meant to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive, over two years after the US abandoned the UN-endorsed agreement.
Rouhani also rejected media speculation that linked his absence from the Parliament’s budget-related session on Wednesday to the legislature’s vote on the bill a day earlier, which seeks to speed up Iran’s nuclear activities.
“My absence in the Parliament was only because of health protocols [against the coronavirus spread] and there is no other reason,” the president said.
On Tuesday, 251 out of 260 Iranian lawmakers present at the Parliament voted ‘yes’ to the outlines of the draft bill, which, if endorsed, will require the Iranian administration to suspend more commitments under a multilateral nuclear deal.
The lawmakers are currently studying the details of the proposed law, which gained momentum following the assassination on Friday of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by terrorists with suspected links to the Israeli regime.
The bill will eventually need the approval of the Guardian Council — a 12-member vetting body that reviews all legislation adopted by the Parliament.
Iran’s Parliament, commonly known as Majlis, believes the initiative can open the locks placed on Iran’s nuclear program and seeks to make imposing sanctions against the Iranian people a costly measure for the West.
Iran showed to the world the peaceful nature of its nuclear program by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — in 2015. The nuclear accord was also ratified in the form of a UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
However, Washington’s exit in May 2018 and the subsequent re-imposition of unilateral anti-Iran sanctions — under a so-called maximum pressure campaign — left the future of the historic agreement in limbo.
Tehran remained fully compliant with the JCPOA for an entire year, waiting for the co-signatories to fulfill their end of the bargain by offsetting the impacts of Washington’s bans on the Iranian economy.
As the European parties failed to do so, Tehran moved in May 2019 to suspend its JCPOA commitments under Articles 26 and 36 of the deal covering Tehran’s legal rights.
The bill includes a provision requiring the Rouhani administration to suspend inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if the European parties to the deal keep failing to fulfill their obligation to facilitate Iran’s access to world banking and oil markets within a month.
It also calls for Iran to enrich uranium for peaceful uses to 20% purity, well over the limits set in the JCPOA, among other things.
Elsewhere in his comments, Rouhani said, “The enemies did their best to make the Iranian people surrender during the past decade, and especially over the past three years. They turned sanctions into an all-out economic war.”
But at the same time, he added, “we think that the circumstances will be different next year with the failure of the war and ‘maximum pressure.’”
He was referring to the upcoming change of administration in the US following President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential race.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will return the US to the deal, which was negotiated during his term as vice president.