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Iran’s hard-line parliament rejects president’s budget draft

February 2, 2021 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s parliament, dominated by hard-liners, rejected on Tuesday a budget bill proposed by the country’s relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani, state TV reported.

The move is part of a political struggle between moderates and conservative hard-liners in Iran’s parliament ahead of June elections, which hard-liners hope to win.

The state TV report said that of the 261 lawmakers present in the 290-seat parliament, 148 voted against the bill while 99 lawmakers backed it. The rest abstained.

The hard-liners and other Rouhani opponents said the proposed budget was unrealistic, lacked transparency and would cause high inflation in the country’s economy, which is struggling under strict U.S. sanctions that Washington imposed on Tehran under former President Donald Trump.

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Trump pulled the U.S. in 2018 out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Iran last month moved further away from limitations on its nuclear enrichment under the deal, and closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a tweet Tuesday that Iran has accelerated uranium enrichment in its nuclear facility. He said that was made possible through the use of sophisticated centrifuges and there were plans to install even more advanced ones.

The Biden administration has said the U.S. would resume its obligations under the deal by easing sanctions if Iran returns to full compliance with the nuclear accord. Only at such a point would the administration return to the deal.

Tuesday’s rejection of Rouhani’s draft came after much discussion by various parliamentary committees. Rouhani proposed the bill in December.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rouhani warned any changes in the budget bill would damage the economy of average Iranians. The bill was aimed to budget for the Iranian year that begins March 21.

After Tuesday’s development, a parliament special committee on the budget will discuss amendments to the bill. This is the third consecutive year that the parliament has rejected the budget proposal. In the past, it eventually approved the bill after further discussions and changes in parliamentary committees.