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Bill to block nuclear inspections approved by Iranian parliament

Bill to block nuclear inspections approved by Iranian parliament
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Iran's parliament voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would suspend United Nations-led inspections of the nation's nuclear facilities, as well as promote the enrichment of its uranium supply should the European members of the 2015 nuclear deal not provide sanction relief. 

According to The Associated Press, state TV quoted Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf as saying lawmakers are “hopeful to remove sanctions through this stern decision.”

The bill, which would also require approval by the Guardian Council to take effect, gives European countries one month to offset U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industries, and to restore Tehran's access to the international banking system.

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The U.S. has imposed a series of sanctions on Iran after the Trump administration in 2018 withdrew from the Obama-era nuclear agreement. 

While the AP noted that a final vote tally was not released, the official IRNA news agency said 251 lawmakers in the 290-seat legislature voted in favor of discussing the bill earlier Tuesday, after which several began chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”

The proposed bill would also mandate that authorities resume enriching uranium to 20 percent — below the threshold required for nuclear weapons, but higher than what is required for civilian uranium use. 

While the bill was initially tabled in August, support has reportedly grown since news broke last week of the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who Israel and western nations have claimed was heading a program looking at the possibility of building a nuclear weapon. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a statement Saturday called for the “definitive punishment” of those behind Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

According to state media, the scientist was shot and killed by “armed terrorist elements” while in a vehicle in the town of Absard and died in the hospital after doctors were unable to save him. 

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Several Iranian officials have blamed Israel for the killing, although Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi reportedly said Saturday in an interview on N12’s "Meet the Press" that he has “no clue who did it.” 

On Monday, top Iranian security official Ali Shamkhani accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely assassinate Fakhrizadeh.

The AP noted that Israel has been suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists in the past decade, although the Israeli government has declined to officially comment on Fakhrizadeh’s death. 

The developments come ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE, who has said he would like to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. However, military officials say that Fakhrizadeh’s death will likely complicate this endeavor.

--Updated at 12:24 p.m.