Iran’s conservatives take aim at nuclear deal
DUBAI – Iran‘s security hawks have begun sniping at their country’s historic nuclear deal, emboldened a day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described some of the world powers that signed it as “untrustworthy”.
Khamenei’s remark will be understood by Iranians to refer largely to the United States and Britain, the “Great and Little Satans” long reviled by Iran’s revolutionary theocracy for their support of the Shah, overthrown in 1979.
The comment carries weight, because the conservative cleric is the ultimate arbiter of high state policy under Iran’s unwieldy dual system of clerical and republican rule.
Khamenei did voice guarded appreciation of the deal, saying it was significant, and urged calm, perhaps alluding to surging popular hopes for an end to Iran’s isolation, or to strains between the supporters of the deal and its critics.
But his downbeat, measured tone was in contrast to lavish praise for the agreement from pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani and his Western-educated foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Figures close to Khamenei lost little time in taking aim at the accord, which lifts sanctions on Tehran in return for Iran accepting long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
PACT WITH THE DEVIL?
One saw worrying discrepancies between the U.S. and Iranian interpretations of what had been agreed.
“The Iranian fact-sheet of the conclusion of the deal issued by the foreign ministry had significant differences with what America’s president mentioned in his remarks,” Mohammad Kazem Anbarlui wrote in an editorial for the conservative newspaper Resalat.
“The fact-sheet of the rival shows that Iranian red lines, particularly about the lifting of sanctions, have not been observed. The phrases and words used in the text contain parentheses and it is loaded with interpretable, ambiguous or multi-meaning expressions,” he added.
Some conservatives believe reaching a deal with Washington is tantamount to a pact with the devil.
They have doubts about the Rouhani’s government efforts to establish trust with the Americans. Zarif has said he would like the deal to open new horizons in Iran-U.S. relations to address what he called important “common challenges” in the region, especially the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Khamenei has not expressed support for that idea.
Last week, answering a student who asked him what would happen to the ‘fight against global arrogance’ after the completion of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Khamenei replied that “the U.S. is the true embodiment of global arrogance” and “the fight cannot be interrupted”.
“In contrast to what’s been said, this deal will not lead to cooperation between Iran and the U.S. in the region, but will increase the tension between them,” Mohammad Sarafi wrote in Kayhan, a newspaper closely associated with Khamenei.
“It’s not the first time that some traitors have tried to put make-up on the face of the Great Satan. They believe we should surrender to U.S. hegemony and whitewash their crimes.”
Reformists in Iran have called the nuclear deal a turning point in the history of the Islamic Republic, and the day the revolutionary slogan “Death to America!” became defunct.
Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani last week talked about the possibility of reopening the U.S. embassy in Iran if the deal were reached. – Reuters