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Iranian committee to review nuclear agreement

Published 21/07/2015

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (centre), who negotiated the nuclear deal to be discussed by Iran's parliament (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (centre), who negotiated the nuclear deal to be discussed by Iran's parliament (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran has set up a special committee to review the landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers last week after the country's foreign minister presented parliament with a copy of the agreement.

The development came a day after the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed the deal, which reins in Iran's nuclear programme and authorised measures leading to the end of UN sanctions imposed on the country.

Under Iran's constitution, parliament has a right to reject any deal - even one negotiated by the foreign ministry - but it is unlikely that the politicians would act against it after the deal won an endorsement from the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who headed the Iranian negotiating team during the talks in Vienna, first submitted the text to the house earlier today. Hours later, the official IRNA news agency reported the formation of a 15-member special committee of politicians to review the deal.

The committee is apparently a way to provide politicians - especially hard-liners who had vehemently opposed the deal from the start, though they have mostly remained silent about it since last week - with an opportunity to discuss various points and air their opinions on it.

Mr Zarif, in a speech in parliament that was broadcast on state radio, hailed the Security Council resolution as "unique" and said he expected it to be "the last resolution about Iran's nuclear issue" - a reference to numerous past UN measures that imposed tough sanctions on Tehran.

It remains unclear whether the committee will formalise a statement at the end of its review, and whether politicians will vote on that - or on the deal in general.

The Security Council also approved a provision that would automatically reinstate the harsh measures if Tehran reneges on its promises given in Vienna.

Mr Zarif, apparently trying to defuse concerns by hard-liners over snap-back sanctions, said such a move would exact a "heavy price" on the other side as well.

"If for any reason, Security Council sanctions are re-imposed, Iran will not be obliged to abide by its commitments" under the nuclear deal, Mr Zarif said, adding that it is not in the interests of either side to go back to the pre-deal situation.

Under the agreement, Iran's nuclear programme will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of pounds of relief from international sanctions. Many key penalties on the Iranian economy, such as those related to the energy and financial sectors, could be lifted by the end of the year.

One prominent official who has spoken out against the deal is the head of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, who said last week that his force has "some concerns" about the draft.

Those points, he said on Saturday, "are clearly in contradiction and violation of important red lines of Iran, especially regarding arms capabilities".

Gen Jafari was quoted as saying: "They will never be acceptable to us."

The United States and its Western allies believe Tehran's real goal is to build atomic weapons but Iran insists its nuclear programme is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy and medical isotopes.

Mr Zarif said today that the UN resolution also opens the way for Iran to commercially trade its uranium. Under the deal, Iran has to dismantle two thirds of its already installed centrifuges for enriching uranium and get rid of 98 percent of its uranium stockpile.

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