Tehran looks for ways to punish Trump

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In response to the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the country’s parliament has passed a bill requiring Tehran to abandon its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the nuclear program. The bill won’t probably be approved, failing to come into force, but it will still complicate Iran’s dialogue with the Biden administration, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The main thing about the bill is that Iran refuses to comply with its obligation not to produce weapons-grade uranium and provide International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors with access to all its nuclear sites. Incumbent US President Donald Trump and his administration officials have repeatedly stressed that they view it as a threat to US national security. That said, the move increases the possibility of a military conflict between the US and Iran but only if the bill gets approval from Iran’s Guardian Council and becomes law.

There are no disagreements between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and conservative forces on whether or not to respond to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination. The dispute is about what the response should be, Iranian political scientist Hamidreza Azizi told Kommersant. According to him, those in Rouhani’s inner circle believe that Tehran needs to avoid getting trapped by cutting ties with the IAEA because it will have negative consequences for the country and reduce the chance of establishing contact with the new US administration. Hardliners, in turn, may take advantage of the situation to block Rouhani’s attempts to build diplomatic ties with the new US president.

“Conservative circles have long questioned the effectiveness of the JCPOA, advocated by President Hassan Rouhani’s team. Now it’s not just about sanctions but also about murders committed on the country’s soil and the violation of Iran’s sovereignty,” PIR Center consultant Yulia Sveshnikova pointed out.

Meanwhile, Pavel Sharikov, who heads the Russian Center for Applied Research at the Academy of Sciences’ Institute for the United States and Canada, is skeptical about the assumption that by killing Fakhrizadeh, Trump sought to prevent Biden from building dialogue with Iran. “If evidence arises that he organized the murder, it may cost him his freedom. Many Democrats call for holding Trump criminally liable and this would be a real gift for them,” the expert told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

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