Iran’s Supreme Leader said on Thursday he favored a parliamentary vote on its nuclear deal reached with world powers and called for sanctions against Tehran to be lifted completely rather than suspended, state television reported.
President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist whose 2013 election paved the way to a diplomatic thaw with the West, and his allies have opposed such a parliamentary vote, arguing this would create legal obligations hampering the deal’s implementation.
“Parliament should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue … I am not saying lawmakers should approve the deal or reject it. It is up to them to decide,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state policy in Iran.
“I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal,” he said in remarks broadcast live on state television.
Khamenei himself has not publicly endorsed or voiced opposition to the Vienna accord, having only praised the work of the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team.
A special committee of parliament, where conservative hardliners close to Khamenei are predominant, have begun reviewing the deal before putting it to a vote. But Rouhani’s government has not prepared a bill for parliament to vote on.
The landmark deal, clinched on July 14 between Iran and the United States, Germany, France, Russia, China and Britain in July, curbs Iran’s nuclear activities to help ensure they remain peaceful in exchange for a removal of economic sanctions.
U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to secure enough Senate votes on Wednesday to see the nuclear deal through Congress, but hardline Republicans pledged to pursue their fight to scuttle it by passing new sanctions on Tehran.
Khamenei said that without a lifting of sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s economy, the deal would be jeopardized.
“Sanctions …. should be lifted and not only suspended … If not, then we will only suspend our nuclear activities … and there would be no deal if the sanctions are only suspended.”
Khamenei also criticized the United States’ Middle East policy, ruling out normalization of ties with Iran’s arch-foe. “Our officials held only nuclear (negotiations) with America. We will never support America’s policies on Syria and Iraq.”