Top European and US officials urge Iran to keep allowing UN nuclear inspections to salvage 2015 deal with world powers.
Tehran, Iran – Hardline Iranian lawmakers say an agreement reached recently between the government and the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog is “illegal” and the president must be punished for it.
In a public vote on Monday, an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted to send a report by the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission on the agreement reached with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the judiciary for review.
The report asserts that the deal struck on Sunday between the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) constitutes a “clear violation” of a law passed by Parliament in December.
As per the law, the government of President Hassan Rouhani must stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, which gives broad authorities to IAEA inspectors, from Tuesday.
In a statement, the AEOI said the implementation of the Additional Protocol will be completely halted from Tuesday, in accordance with the law, and no access will be given to the UN’s nuclear watchdog beyond those laid out in a principal safeguards agreement aimed at ensuring nuclear non-proliferation.
However, detractors have said the agreement reached after IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited Tehran violates the December law, in that Iran would unilaterally record the monitoring data the nuclear watchdog’s inspectors would normally be able to access under the Additional Protocol, but would not share the data.
The arrangement will remain in place for three months, at the end of which the data will be destroyed if all United States sanctions, imposed on Iran since 2018 after former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, are not lifted.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the talks “resulted in a very significant diplomatic achievement and a very significant technical achievement … within the framework of the parliament’s binding law”.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also said in a statement on Monday the IAEA agreement falls in compliance with the parliament’s law.
But angry parliamentarians held a different view.
Instead of their scheduled work on the annual budget bill that had been delayed for months amid a spat with the government, they held a meeting behind closed doors to review the IAEA deal and drafted a motion to involve the judiciary.
Several lawmakers delivered fiery speeches in condemnation of the deal in a public session held afterwards.
Among them was the speaker of parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf – a staunch political foe of the president who also unsuccessfully ran against him in the 2017 presidential election and is considered a potential candidate in the upcoming June elections.
Ghalibaf said the parliament will not be satisfied with anything less than what it perceives as the full implementation of the law it approved.
The parliament’s motion also directly called for Rouhani to be legally punished.
“The aforementioned law recognises mister president as the person in charge of implementing it,” the motion said, calling on Rouhani and all others who the parliament believes violated the law to be handed over to the judiciary.
“The president on the way to the court!” Tehran representative Mojtaba Rezakhah wrote on Twitter shortly after the motion was passed.
Another lawmaker, Nazammudin Mousavi, said on Twitter than the parliament had sent a “decisive message” with the motion: that no one will be allowed to “circumvent the law”.
Members of the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint or dismiss the supreme leader, said in a statement on Monday that a US return to the nuclear deal without “effective” lifting sanctions will be harmful, not beneficial.
“Global arrogance must know that the return or lack of return of the US to the JCPOA will have no effect on the resistance of the honourable people of Iran,” they said using the formal name of the accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We regard renegotiations with the US over previously agreed upon matters a red line for the establishment and consider our defence and missile issues non-negotiable.”
Members of the assembly will meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later on Monday.