Iranian MP Ahmad Amiribadi Farahani announced over the weekend that if the US does not lift sanctions against Iran, as required under the P5+1 nuclear deal, by February 21, the Iranian parliament is mandating the expulsion of all IAEA inspectors from the country, and will suspend the Additional Protocol.
This comes on the approach of president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and with some expectations he’d be looking to engage Iran diplomatically, the ultimatum may be an effort to force Biden to engage early, and make a deal quickly.
The US isn’t a party to the P5+1 deal at this point, but there’s been a lot of hope Biden would want to return. There has been no public announcement, and Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) claimed in October Biden would hold out for a tougher deal.
Since this comment is coming from an MP and making reference to parliament’s bill to expand the nuclear program, it’s not clear this is being sent on behalf of the Rouhani government, or if it is just hardliners trying to stir things up.
Rouhani is more diplomacy-minded than the hardliners, and has resisted parliament’s calls to escalate the civilian nuclear program. He has also emphasized that what’s been done is totally reversible, and has been done under IAEA oversight.
Nothing that’s been done has anything to do with a military dimension to the nuclear program, and despite Israeli spin, the inspectors can continue to verify nothing is being diverted outside of civilian use.
Expelling the inspectors would be a huge escalation, even though it too would be reversible, and would certainly be presented by US hawks and their supporters as a provocation worth starting a war over.
If Biden hasn’t made a deal by then and this expulsion happens, it could put major pressure on him to react negatively, and move away from the diplomatic track. That may be what the hardliners intend, as many of them openly scorn the idea of diplomacy in the first place.