Iran Daily, Sept 4: Did Supreme Leader Just Step Back from Nuclear Deal?


In a speech on Thursday to the Assembly of Experts, Iran’s Supreme Leader cast uncertainty over his support of the July 14 nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers, while putting pressure on President Rouhani and the Government.

Khamenei made his first intervention into weeks of debate over how the deal should be approved. The Government has said that the decision is with the Supreme National Security Council, while anti-deal MPs and Government critics have said that Parliament must be allowed to vote on the agreement.

See Iran Feature: Supreme Leader Slaps Down Government — Parliament to “Decide” on Nuclear Deal

The Supreme Leader said that Parliament “must have a role” in the process:

The remarks divided analysts over the Supreme Leader’s meaning. Some said Khamenei was only indicating an advisory role for the MPs — a position compatible with the Government’s view — while others assessed that the reference that Parliament “must decide” supported the call for a vote.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader applied further pressure on the Government with the warning that he could pull back from the deal if it was not implemented correctly. Specifically, he declared that all US, European, and UN sanctions must be terminated on the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal.

The IAEA is projected to issue its decision about Iranian compliance about December 15. Most analysts have assessed that, given the legal and political web of US sanctions, it will be months before the American restrictions — notably on Iran’s oil exports — are fully removed. Moreover, Washington and its allies insisted that the July 14 agreement include a process for the re-imposition of sanctions if Iran was later found to be in violation of the agreement.

The Supreme Leader’s Wider Aim

The immediate assessment is that, on the narrow issue of the nuclear deal, the Supreme Leader maintained a careful ambiguity on Thursday. Without clearly backing a Parliamentary rejection of the agreement, he maintained that possibility as well as declaring that he could always pull back his support of implementation.

That position is part of Khamenei’s wider political objective. Yesterday — as President Rouhani and his ally, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, sat next to the Supreme Leader — was a message to the two men to pull back their challenge within the regime.

In recent weeks, Rouhani, Rafsanjani, and their allies have stepped up their attempt to push back other institutions. The President declared — with elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts next February — that the Guardian Council must not be allowed to vet and disqualify candidates. Rafsanjani has been speaking with Grand Ayatollahs who opposed the regime’s crackdown on mass protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential elections. The Government has been pursuing its foreign policy of “engagement”, despite opposition from factions such as the Revolutionary Guards.

The Supreme Leader cautioned Rouhani against any sudden moves. Khamenei used his standard rhetoric denouncing US and Israel, while putting in the pointed message that the Government must not give way to an American challenge abroad and encouragement of “sedition” at home:

Today’s Friday Prayers in Tehran and across Iran, delivered according to guidelines from the Supreme Leader’s office, should give further clues about Khamenei’s strategy.

Meanwhile, factions are reacting carefully to Thursday’s statement, confining themselves to the authorized summary of the remarks while choosing headlines that look away from the internal politics.

Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, leads with a summary of “Parliament should not be abandoned” in the review of the deal, but its English-language site finds refuge in the American enemy: “Leader Calls on Iranian Officials to Respond to US Irresponsible Remarks“.

State agency IRNA, which is favorable towards the Government, echoes, “Supreme Leader: Officials Should Strongly Respond to US Rhetorics“, while Mehr News harshly announces, “US Seeking ‘Ultimate Wiping Out of the Resistance Front’“.

University of Tehran academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi, interviewed by Russia’s RT, also spends several minutes denouncing the US while avoiding any reference to the political dynamics inside the Islamic Republic:

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    • That’s kind of like Palin not knowing the difference between North and South Korea. It shows how crazy the republicans are right now that that arrogant, racist buffoon is leading in the polls. It’s all just a sideshow anyways. There isn’t a snow balls chance in hell Trump ever wins that nomination. My money is on Jeb Bush. That’s who the establishment wants. All the Republican candidates are terrible. I wouldn’t trust that group of losers to run my 401k.

      • Why can’t John McCain run agien he is decent man and having been tortured in Vietnam I sure he would not put up with any of Khamenei s carp. Unlike Barry.

        • Finally, Niall, you managed an actually hilarious joke, without even trying!

          McCain is a decent man” — that really bust my stitches. You could bowl me over with a carp! Well done, mein chum.

            • LOL, how’s that, RT … you think Niall was being sarcastic?

              Wrong, he doesn’t do subtlety and truly is so naïve as to believe this congenitally insane warcriminal pig, who, not content with napalming just the Gook villagers it was his official pleasure to murder, for a jape single-handedly produced more Yanki ‘heroes’ than probably any individual Viet Cong ever managed, then when later captured went in for a career as a warbling songbird, saving his own lousy hide by shopping his hick buddies up the delta in exchange for food and meds, is the epitome of human rectitude.

              Naturally, as this albino cretin was spawned by an Admiral, Daddy was able to instantly chopper him off ship before his mates could lynch him and the corrupt Yanki military then covered it all up and awarded this swine carelessly draped in human skin a raft of medals plus promotion to a seat in Congress instead of his merited execution.

              Yes, this is the loathsome breed poor Niall venerates.

      • You will in time learn, Kevin, to kneel before Donald the First, King of ‘Murrika, who will mine the coasts and build the walls so tall, thick and pitcher-skew along the borders that none of his subjects may ever escape from Yankistan.

  1. Dose old Ali actually write these Twitter posts? Or dose someone else do it. I asked because I don’t know if he can speak English I only seen him speak Dari. I know Rouhani can speak English because he went to Caledonian uni, which the one Strathclyde students like me all make fun off.

  2. My reading of Khamenie’s speech to the Assembly of Experts as far as the role of the Parliament is concerned with respect to the JCPOA is that he has taken the middle road as he usually does. All his statements pointed to the idea that Parliament should have a role but didn’t specify what the role should be. But he has kept adament about encouraging those in ‘responsible positions’ to be vigilant about ‘American opportunism’.
    What is not surprising is that his first specific taking an issue with the nuclear deal is the matter of sanctions, especially considering the effect of the sanctions on the massive financial conglamerates that he controls. But no mention of anything related to the rights of the Iranian people with respect to the nuclear field. The rhetoric of the nuclear rights of the Iranian nation is trumped by the rhetoric of the lifting of the sanctions that control his personal financial empire.
    Going on a limb here, I predict more US-Iran cooperation in the future despite Khamenei’s rhetoric of beware of US infiltration. He hinted in his speech on Thursday that ‘small scale cooperation’ has already taken place.

    • mrzand,

      I was inclined towards this point of view yesterday, pulling back a bit on Thursday’s snap analysis of the speech. However, this morning I am seeing more pressure on Rouhani over the vote. I could be misreading this, but at the least it appears that critics of the deal are seeing a better environment for them to press for the Parliamentary vote.


      • I concur that the Parliament will play a more decisive role especially given Ayatollah Yazdi’s recent statements in the 18th summit of Assembly of Experts in the presence of an uncomfortable Rouhani. (video below) However, I still think that until the formalities of the eventual approval is done in the US, Iranians including Khamenei will pretend that it is not a done deal yet.

        Also Yazdi went on to unequivocally clarify the Guardian Council’s role in the upcoming Parliamentary elections as that one of ‘approving’ not just ‘spectating’, clearly confronting Rouhani’s latest challenge to the Council’s role. Yazdi also dealt a fatal blow to Rouhani’s government plans to use electronic voting with ‘software from China’ in the upcoming Parliamentary elections, since the Assembly of Experts has not determined the electronic method of voting ‘trustworthy’ yet.


        It was Interesting to watch Araghchi testifying before the JCPOA commission of the Parliament last week to be continued tomorrow. Civil but tense discussions when Zakani had to intervene several times to remind the commission members not to interrupt Araghchi answering the members’ questions. Especially interesting was when Araghchi would sarcastically refer to the ‘torn papers’ (a term that Ahmadinejad used to refer to UN resolutions about the nuclear program) to highlight the achievements of the negotiating team when UN nullified the resolutions immediately after the announcement of the JCPOA.

        • Electronic voting with software from China sounds like an excellent system for rigging elections. If by any chance the Assembly of Experts want to see fair elections, they are right to distrust it.
          More likely they want a system that allows absolutely no opportunities for “sedition”.

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