TEHRAN, (AP) – Iran’s parliament authorized tit-for-tat retaliation Tuesday against countries that inspect cargo on Iranian ships and aircraft as part of new U.N. sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.
A fourth Security Council sanctions resolution imposed last month calls on, but does not require, all countries to cooperate in such cargo inspections if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the items could contribute to the Iranian nuclear program, and any inspection must receive the consent of the ship’s flag state.
The parliamentary bill passed Tuesday allows Iran’s government to respond in kind, with cargo inspections of its own.
The new U.N. sanctions, which also include financial penalties, were imposed because of Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology the United States and other world powers suspect Tehran is seeking to master as a possible pathway to nuclear weapons. Iran says it is only after nuclear power.
The Iranian bill also requires the government to maintain its limited level of cooperation with United Nations nuclear safeguards agreements. Iran, for example, refuses to allow surprise visits by U.N. nuclear inspectors.
The bill, which still needs approval by a constitutional watchdog, also requires the government to retaliate against nations that refuse to fuel Iranian aircraft by prohibiting their planes from fueling in Iran. Two Iranian planes recently failed to receive fuel in Hamburg airport in Germany, though the reason was unclear.
Iran’s uranium enrichment program is at the center of international concerns about its nuclear work because of the possibility it could be used to make weapons. At lower levels of processing, enriched uranium is suitable for making fuel for power plants. Iran recently increased its enrichment to a level of 20 percent, which it says is needed for a medical research reactor.
That development, however, puts it much closer to being able to advance toward the 90 percent level needed in weapons production.
The bill adopted Tuesday presses the government to continue enriching uranium to 20 percent levels and to pursue self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel production.