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Iran Seeks to Toughen Stance Following Nuclear Scientist’s Killing

Military personnel carry the coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist killed on Friday, at a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Nov. 30, 2020.

Iran’s parliament has approved legislation that would suspend United Nations inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities if oil and banking sanctions are not lifted.

The measure, approved Tuesday, would also require the government to increase its uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement fail to provide sanctions relief.

Parliament passed the bill in response to Friday’s killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The legislation must also be approved by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

After passing a draft of the bill, lawmakers chanted, “Death to America and “Death to Israel.”

Parliament later approved the final bill, which would give European countries, Russia and China one month to ease sanctions on its energy sector and restore its access to the global banking system.

The United States imposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, causing relations between the two sides to deteriorate.

Iranian lawmakers have pushed for a more confrontational approach since the U.S. withdrew from the agreement. The bill was first proposed in August but gained momentum after Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

Fakhrizadeh led a program that Israel and Western countries have said was a military operation exploring the feasibility of constructing a nuclear weapon. Iran has maintained its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Iran has accused Israel of killing Fakhrizadeh, while Israel, which has long conducted a covert war against Iran and its regional proxies, has declined to comment. No one has claimed responsibility.