PHOTO: Iran’s Parliament endorse the nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers, October 13, 2015

Rohollah Faghihi writes for Middle East Eye:

On 21 October, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei drafted a letter, approving the Iranian government’s nuclear deal with world powers, ending tense debates in Tehran which climaxed with barefaced threats and curses against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Following the letter’s publication, Khamenei’s site published a picture of the Supreme Leader that read: “Conditional Welcome”.

Indeed, the Supreme Leader’s letter was a conditional approval with a number of provisions, including that Tehran should not forfeit core elements in its atomic program until allegations of past military dimensions had been settled.

The letter sought to appease both hard-liners and President Hassan Rouhani’s supporters. Khamenei gave the green light to Rouhani to implement the deal, while in the same breath cited weaknesses in the deal, which he warned “might harm the country, if not carefully heeded”.

Hardline newspapers Kayhan and Vatan Emrooz’s top stories were respectively headlined: “The Leader thwarted America’s plan” and “Antidote”. Moderates and reformist newspapers welcomed Khamenei’s letter, describing it as “the conditional approval”.

On 22 October, Rouhani replied to the Supreme Leader’s letter. He expressed gratitude to Khamenei for his guidelines and support regarding the agreement, and reiterated that the Leader’s instructions would be carefully considered.

Following Rouhani’s answer, Ali Reza Zakani, a staunch opponent of the nuclear deal, appeared on Iran’s state TV, saying: “Critics and supporters of the deal should move forward and help the government as it strives to implement the deal based on the 28 points cited by the Supreme Leader, Parliament, and the National Supreme Security Council.”

On 23 October, Tehran’s conservative Friday Prayer Leader, Ahmad Khatami, said: “The historic letter of the Supreme Leader closed the nuclear deal case.”

He added: “The debates over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are over, because the deal has become law.”

The Battle Continues?

Hardliners protest that Iran’s negotiators granted too many concessions and now express concerns regarding “possible infiltration of the US in Iran”….

See also Iran Daily, Oct 27: Hardliners Hit Back Over Acceptance of Nuclear Deal

Political activist Darush Qanbari told MEE:

Hardliners are anxious about their political future, because now that we have come to an agreement, they will become more isolated. Most people are in favour of the deal, and they recognize who is throwing obstacles in the way of the JCPOA’s passing in parliament. Hardliners know that their chances for victory in the coming parliamentary election have decreased significantly….

The attacks against Zarif are coming from the hardliners. They have no…approval of the people. They assume that they can win votes for the next Parliamentary election by cursing. But this is wrong, because they have lost the trust of the people. Everything the hardliners have done to undermine Zarif and President Rouhani has backfired; their actions have further isolated them from the people.

Following the historic restoration of the Iran-US relationship, and especially after the handshake between Zarif and US President Barack Obama, Iranian hardliners raged against Zarif.

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