With hawks in the US Senate pushing hard for a new round of sanctions against Iran seemingly with the explicit intent of derailing diplomatic progress with the country, hardliners in Iran’s parliament look set to follow suit with a “retaliatory” bill.
The bill would respond to any new US sanctions with an immediate demand for the Iranian government to begin enriching uranium to 60 percent, still below weapons-grade but far higher than anything they’ve attempted before.
With Iran in the process of winding down 20 percent enrichment and focusing mostly on 3.5 percent, the move to jump to 60 would deal another potentially mortal blow to diplomacy with the P5+1, and as with the US sanctions that seems to be the idea, as the bill is being pushed by MPs who are openly opposed to the talks.
Nominally, the MPs are arguing the 60 percent enriched uranium could be used for nuclear submarines, though in practice Iran appears to have no such need, and the whole point of the threat is to be deliberately provocative. The Rouhani government hasn’t openly discussed the bill yet, but will likely oppose it.