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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iranian Parliament Approves Bill on Resuming Enrichment

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian lawmakers have voted to resume uranium enrichment and end snap UN checks of its nuclear sites if Tehran is referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

In the vote on Sunday, broadcast live on state radio, 183 out of 197 lawmakers present favored the bill. The legislation must now be approved by Iran's constitutional watchdog, the conservative 12-man Guardian Council.

Iran faces referral to the world body for possible sanctions after failing to convince the world that its atomic scientists are focusing on power stations rather than warheads.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said the bill sent a clear message to the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board.

"If the board of governors transgresses people's rights, nations are entitled to preserve their rights," he said.

The bill is intended to give leverage to Iran's negotiators. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliament's foreign policy and security commission, urged opposition lawmakers from the reformist camp to show a united front in the national interest. "This is not a factional, political issue, it is a national issue," he said in the debate.

The bill calls for Iran's government to stop following the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which allows snap UN checks of atomic sites. It also calls on Iran to resume all nuclear activities that it stopped voluntarily. Foremost among these is the moratorium on enriching uranium.

 The United States and its European allies will not push to have Iran referred to the Security Council on Thursday, giving Russia extra time to try to convince Tehran to compromise on its nuclear activities, diplomats and officials said Monday, The Associated Press reported.