Iran to expel nuclear inspectors 'unless sanctions are lifted'

Iran to expel nuclear inspectors 'unless sanctions are lifted'
Iran will expel United Nations nuclear watchdog inspectors unless US sanctions are lifted by a Feb. 21 deadline set by the hardline-dominated parliament, a lawmaker said on Saturday.
2 min read
10 January, 2021
Iran has gradually suspended implementation of most of key obligations under the nuclear deal [Getty]

Iran will expel UN nuclear watchdog inspectors if crippling US sanctions remain on the Islam republic after a February deadline set by its parliament, an Iranian MP said on Saturday. 

In November, Iran's parliament passed a law obliging the government to suspend inspections of its nuclear site by the IAEA and step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal if US sanctions remain.

"According to the law, if the Americans do not lift financial, banking and oil sanctions by Feb. 21, we will definitely expel the IAEA inspectors from the country and will definitely end the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol," parliamentarian Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani said, according to Reuters

In a statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran had an obligation to allow the inspectors access. 

"Once again the Iranian regime is using its nuclear program to extort the international community and threaten regional security," Pompeo said.

Read also: Iran holds naval parade in the Persian Gulf

Since 2019, Iran has gradually suspended implementation of most of its key obligations under the nuclear deal, which set strict limits on its activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Other parties to the agreement, notably Britain, France and Germany, have pressed Iran to return to its commitments in a bid to rescue the deal, but Iran has repeatedly demanded that the United States first lift its crippling sanctions or help it circumvent them.

"When the other party meets practically none of its obligations, it is not logical for the Islamic republic to honour all of its commitments," Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said.

"If they return to their commitments, we will return to ours."

Trump's decision to reimpose sanctions deprived Iran of the benefits it expected from the nuclear deal by driving away foreign investors and reducing foreign trade, plunging the country into a deep recession.

Iran has retaliated by gradually reducing its commitments to the deal.

It announced last week that it resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent - well below the 90 percent required to make an atomic bomb.

The decision was taken by Iran's parliament, rather than President Hassan Rouhani's moderate-reformist government, which has shown a willingness to engage with the incoming US administration.

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