Iran conservatives target nuclear deal, irking pragmatists

  • World
  • Thursday, 23 Jul 2015

(Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has defended a nuclear agreement with world powers that conservatives have criticised. Following are parts of the deal that have drawn objections from the Islamic Republic's security hardliners.

Conservative members of parliament and commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards say the deal has breached conditions set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and want changes.

But the Iranian officials who negotiated the agreement, known as the JCPOA and reached in Vienna on July 14, say it can be only approved or rejected as a whole.


Conservatives dislike a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on July 20 that endorses the deal and triggers a set of coordinated steps agreed by Iran in nearly two years of talks with the world powers.

The resolution, negotiated as part of the deal, ends seven previous resolutions that included international sanctions on Iran - but only once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies Tehran's compliance with the Vienna accord. The deal curbs Iran's nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

But conservatives point out it also enshrines a mechanism for all United Nations sanctions authorised by the previous resolutions to be automatically reimposed if Iran breaches the deal.

Iran has always considered U.N. resolutions on Iran unjust and illegal. Conservatives believe that by accepting the new resolution, Iran has approved and legitimised all the previous and current sanctions imposed on it.

Tehran's negotiating team says the new U.N. resolution is not binding on Tehran. They also say the JCPOA is separate from the resolution and believe breaching the resolution will not bring sanctions back.


The conservatives object to the fact that military sanctions will remain. Under resolution 2231, an arms embargo on conventional weapons stays, preventing the import and export of weapons for five years. Iran will not be able to export arms legally to its allies in the region, or import anti-missile systems to prevent any possible attack by Israel.

The negotiating team says if Iran’s national interests contradict the U.N. resolution at any point, preserving national interests would remain the priority for Tehran. They say Iran will do anything to support Iran’s allies in the region.


Any transfer to Iran of ballistic missile technology during the next eight years and of heavy weapons such as tanks in the next five years would be subject to Security Council approval, and the United States has promised to veto any such requests.

Conservatives say Tehran should not accept any restriction on its military capabilities and especially not its missile programme, one of the largest in the Middle East.

The negotiating team notes that the restrictions are on missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads, and since Iran says it has no programme to make such weapons, this would not affect the country's military development.


The conservatives say that according to the JCPOA, EU sanctions will only be suspended, not ended.

The negotiating team says this is the only practical way of freeing Iran from the curbs in the short term, given the complexity of the EU sanctions' interlocking regulations. A full lifting would have to come later.


The U.N. resolution says no sanctions relief will be implemented until the IAEA submits a report to the Security Council verifying that Iran has taken certain nuclear-related measures outlined in the Vienna agreement.

Conservatives are not happy that the implementation of the deal and the lifting of sanctions depends on the IAEA’s final assessment of the nuclear programme.

Iran has repeatedly said the IAEA has used fabricated intelligence, but the U.N. nuclear agency says it takes no data at face value.


Conservatives believe the deal makes clear that the IAEA will be able to seek access to any Iranian installation, civilian or military. If the IAEA is denied access it can appeal to a Joint Commission where Iran, even if supported by permanent Security Council members China and Russia, can be outvoted and required to admit inspectors or face the possibility of sanctions being restored.

The negotiating team says any inspection is managed, and Iran’s military secrets will remain safe.


The JCPOA codifies some rigorous limits on nuclear research especially in the first eight years. But conservatives see restrictions on research and development as against Iran’s right to nuclear development.

The negotiating team says Western governments spent years trying to stop Iran’s research and development, but now they’ve accepted its continuation.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Michelle Nichols and Shadia Nasralla, Editing by William Maclean and David Stamp)

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