Iran SNUBS US with major boost to nuclear programme after horror assassination

Tehran voted to boost their annual uranium enrichment levels to 20 percent, well above the 4.5 percent they currently produce. It follows the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s leading nuclear scientist, with Tehran blaming Israel for the incident. Iran’s boost to their nuclear programme takes them far beyond the levels agreed by the 2015 deal, which held the country will have no more than 3.67 percent enrichment annually. The US pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, and has sought to reimpose sanctions on Iran throughout the year.

The Iranian parliament voted in favour of the Strategic Act to Revoke Sanctions, which sees the country boost annual enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.

It also approves Iranian plans to revitalise the Fordow nuclear plant, which saw its capabilities reduced after the 2015 deal, and increase the number of advanced centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.

Ahead of the vote, the parliament also called for an end to international inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) following Mr Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.

All members of parliament signed a statement which condemned Israel for its alleged role in the assassination, saying “the hand of the murderous Zionist regime” was obvious in Mr Fakhrizadeh’s death.

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Iran news: Picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s car and Ayatollah Khamenei

Iran news: Tehran’s parliament has voted to boost its uranium production after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s death (Image: PA)

Iran news: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran

Iran news: The vote followed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (right) dying on Friday in an assassination attack (Image: PA)

The lawmakers also laid the blame for Mr Fakhrizadeh’s death on the US for emboldening Israel to attack.

The statement added that members of its own parliament had a “damaging way of thinking” over negotiations with the West and Israel, and stating it was wrong to not antagonise the powers.

It continued: “But the experiences of terror and sabotage of the US, Israel and their other allies in the country in recent years, which have unfortunately gone largely without proportionate response, have shown how wrong and dangerous this way of thinking is.”

In response to the assassination, members of parliament called for a “immediate and punitive response” which they believed would best be achieved by working to “revive the brilliant nuclear industry of our country”.

Iran news: 2004 Bushehr nuclear power plant at the Persian Gulf port of bushehr

Iran news: The vote sees Tehran boost uranium production well beyond the 2015 Nuclear Deal’s limits, as well as stopping international checks on the country’s facilities (Image: PA)

Iran news: Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House 2020

Iran news: Donald Trump has pulled out of the nuclear deal and slammed sanctions on Iran over nuclear weapon fears (Image: PA)

Mr Fakhrizadeh was killed after his vehicle convey was attacked in Absard, a town near Tehran, on Friday.

Accounts claimed a Nissan truck carrying explosives was detonated next to the physicist’s car.

Gunmen then emerged and fired on Mr Fakhrizadeh’s car, with three bodyguards killed alongside the physicist.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has vowed “definitive punishment” for the perpetrators of the assassination.

Iranian newspaper Kayhan also called for the Israeli port city Haifa to be attacked should the country be confirmed to be behind the assassination.

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In 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out the nuclear deal with Iran and called it a “decaying and rotten” agreement.

Mr Trump’s administration has since imposed a series of sanctions on the country, which has crippled Iran’s economy.

Mr Trump has also backed Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu over his hawkish stance on Iran, and has formed an alliance between the US, Israel and other Gulf Arab states against Tehran.

Earlier this month, Mr Netanyahu urged President-Elect Joe Biden to not return to the 2015 deal with Tehran and called for an “uncompromising policy” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Also in 2018, Mr Netanyahu also named Mr Fakhrizadeh directly in a conference, telling reporters to “remember that name”.

Iran news: express explainer on iran missile range

Iran news: Tehran insists its nuclear production is purely for civilian purposes, but Western powers have claimed the country is trying to develop missiles (Image: EXPRESS)

Iran news: Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House 2020

Iran news: Benjamin Netanyahu specifically called out Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2018 as key figure in Iran’s nuclear weapons push (Image: PA)

Iran has maintained their nuclear capabilities are strictly peaceful, and are purely for civilian purposes.

Tehran’s 20 percent enrichment levels also fall far below the required 90 percent required to make nuclear warheads, and the country is still allowing the IAEA to inspect sites for the time being.

Tensions between Iran and the US nearly spilled into war after the assassination of top general Qasem Soleimani in January.

Mr Trump approved a targeted drone strike on the military leader, which led Iran to respond by launching missiles at a US base in Iraq.