Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has asked the Majlis, his country’s parliament, to review the agreement negotiated with the P5+1 world powers in July concerning Iran’s nuclear program. This announcement comes one day after US President Barack Obama received the necessary support on Capitol Hill to ensure that his veto, pushing the resolution through Congress, will not be overturned.
Unlike President Obama, the Ayatolla is not required to present the agreement to the parliament, since he is the supreme religious leader of the country, however this is consistent with his treatment of other nuclear agreements with European powers that also passed through a parliamentary process. Despite having the final say, he did not seem inclined towards parliamentary approval or disapproval.
“Parliament should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue … I am not saying lawmakers should ratify or reject the deal. It is up to them to decide,” the Ayatollah said on state television. “I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal.”
President Hassan Rouhani has opposed opening the debate to the parliament, claiming it would unnecessarily complicate the process with legal issues.
Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker, told reporters in New York on Thursday that the debate in the Iranian parliament would be hotly disputed. Many Iranian politicians strongly object to the “snapback” clause which reinstates UN sanctions in the event of violations.
“For us, this is not possible,” Larijani said. “We cannot go back to the situation that we were in before the implementation of the agreement.”
Despite having signed an agreement, Iran and the Western powers (United States, Germany, France, Russia, China and Britain) still disagree on the details of lifting the sanctions. The Ayatollah has insisted that as long as sanctions exist, or the possibility of their being reinstated, there can be no agreement.
“Should the sanctions be suspended, then there would be no deal either. So this issue must be resolved. If they only suspend the sanctions, then we will only suspend our nuclear activities. Then we could go on and triple the number of centrifuges to 60,000, keep a 20 percent level of uranium enrichment and also accelerate our research and development activities,” said the Ayatollah.
Khamenei recently addressed a session of the Assembly of Experts which has the power both to dismiss an Ayatollah and to choose a new one.
“Our officials have been banned from holding talks with Americans except on the nuclear issue. This is because our policies differ with America. One of America’s regional policies is to fully destroy the forces of resistance and wants to retake full control of Iraq and Syria … America expects Iran to be part of this framework. But this will never happen.”
In this statement, the Ayatollah was reaffirming his support for Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite American objections. This is a point of disagreement between the Ayatollah and President Rouhani, who has expressed a desire to come to terms with the West in reducing conflict in the region.
The Iranian parliament is expected to vote on the agreement in about a month.