Days before the transfer of power in Tehran, blame games have intensified between conservatives and reformists over efforts to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Conservative MP Mojtaba Zanoor blamed the reformist leader for being the “biggest obstacle” to lifting US sanctions in his farewell to outgoing President Hassan Rouhani.
Zonoor, the former head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said Rouhani’s “concessions” and “begging approach” prevented the sanctions from being lifted.
Zanoor said in response to recent statements made by the outgoing president and other government officials who have blamed Parliament for the issue of obstructing their efforts.
Rouhani, whose presidential term ends next week, blamed the top legislature for the deadlock over reviving the nuclear deal.
Rouhani said last week that parliament had put obstacles in the way of his administration’s efforts to lift sanctions, citing a law passed last year that called for increasing uranium enrichment to 20 percent as a countermeasure to US sanctions.
He said an agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and lift economic sanctions imposed by the previous US administration was “possible in April,” but the opportunity was lost after the Iranian parliament introduced the law in the wake of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei also referred to “domestic interference” over stalled efforts to revive the nuclear deal, referring to parliamentary legislation requiring the government to significantly intensify nuclear activities and limit inspections of its nuclear sites by United Nations inspectors.
In response to Rouhani’s comments, Zonoor, deputy representative of former Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the IRGC, said that Iran under the Rouhani administration had “reached the maximum pressure” due to the president’s reformist approach of “begging and compromise”.
He said the Rouhani government has shown desperation to return to full compliance with the nuclear deal in exchange for the United States’ return to the deal.
“When the enemy feels that we do not want to enter out of frivolity and mutual respect.. but out of need and urgency, it retreats and tries not to make concessions to us and take more privileges from us by taking time,” he said.
The deputy went on to advise the incoming government headed by the former chief justice and prominent conservative figure Ibrahim Raisi to “not follow the path” of his predecessor, but rather follow the path of “wisdom, benefit and dignity” in negotiations with the West.
The senior lawmaker said Iran had paid “all the costs” of the deal, and now had to reap its “benefits” under the new government.
Negotiations to revive the 2015 agreement that Washington abandoned in May 2018 have been underway in Vienna since April. So far, six rounds of talks have been held, and the next round has been postponed indefinitely due to the transition of power in Iran.
While the two sides claimed “progress” in the marathon talks, there were “serious differences” over which sanctions would be lifted as well as recent Iranian nuclear developments.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the main architect of the nuclear deal, said last week that nuclear talks would resume under the new government in Tehran. These words were echoed by his deputy Abbas Araqchi, chief negotiator in Vienna, as well as government spokesman Rabiei.
But there are strong indications that the new Iranian administration may adopt a radically new form of negotiations after a committee set up by the country’s highest security body reportedly concluded that the framework reached in Vienna was not fully compatible with the parliamentary act.
Zonoor also told reporters last week that the president’s administration “will not continue negotiations (with the P4+1) on the Vienna model.”
And Raisi, a fierce critic of the West, will replace Rouhani in the first week of August. He is more likely to win the support of the conservative-controlled parliament in his major policy decisions, unlike Rouhani, who has fought several feuds with lawmakers in the past two years.
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