Iran threatens counter measure to Senate’s proposed new sanctions
By Ramin Mostaghim and Paul Richter
December 20, 2013
TEHRAN – Iranian lawmakers Friday threatened retaliation for a Senate bill that proposes tough new sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic fails to cooperate in upcoming negotiations aimed at curbing its nuclear program.
Mehdi Moussavinejad, a senior member of the Iranian parliament’s energy committee, said lawmakers were considering a measure that would hike Iran’s uranium enrichment for the current top concentration of 20% to more than 60%, substantially closer to the 90% needed for nuclear weapons fuel.
“Given the method that the other negotiating side – the U.S. in particular – has adopted during the nuclear negotiations, the legislators are working on a bill that will require the government to increase the level of uranium to over 60%,” Moussavinejad told the official Iranian Republic News Agency.
He said the high-grade material was needed “to supply fuel for our ships.”
The lawmaker was reacting to news that 26 senators, including 13 Democrats, had signed on Thursday as co-sponsors of a new sanctions bill, despite furious lobbying from the White House. The Democrats included Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.