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Czech Parliament Rejects Lifting Nuclear Ban Against Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (3rd from L) and Iran's Atomic Energy Agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi (2nd from L) visit the control room of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Bushehr, January 13, 2015

The Czech Parliament’s lower house has rejected a proposal to nullify a law that bans Czech companies from selling equipment to Iran for the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The proposal rejected on Friday, September 8, was based on the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal with world powers that suspended international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in exchange for the country halting its suspicious nuclear activities.

The law that banned Czech companies from supplying equipment for Bushehr nuclear power plant was ratified during Vaclav Havel's presidency, in 2000.

The law enforcing such a ban was passed in reaction to a Czech firm’s plans to deliver ventilation equipment for the plant, Radio Praha reported, adding, “The deal was criticized by Britain and the US amid growing suspicion that Iran was using civilian nuclear program to cover up its nuclear projects in the military”.

The proposal to lift the ban was mainly backed by the Czech Communist and Socialist Parties, while the Conservative parties voted against it.

According to the Czech parliament’s website, the proposal needed 66 votes out of 130 to pass, but only 47 MPs voted for it.

The MPs who voted against the proposal have argued that endorsing it could have harmed the friendly relation between Prague and Tel Aviv.

Iran has only one operational nuclear plant located in Bushehr but, reportedly, is planning to build more reactors.

After years of constrained relations, Tehran and Prague elevated their diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level, in 2016.

Moreover, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi visited Prague in 2016 and discussed issues related to nuclear cooperation with their Czech counterparts.

Tehran has always insisted that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes and, in the meantime, it would welcome nuclear cooperation with all European countries.