Middle East

Iran lawmakers won't derail nuclear deal: official

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran on March 16,2015. AFP PHOTO / STR

TEHRAN: Iranian MPs will not derail a nuclear deal with the West, as U.S. lawmakers have threatened to, if the country's supreme leader gives it his backing, parliament's top official said Monday.

Speaker Ali Larijani said lawmakers and the government would be unified if an agreement gets the nod from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all policy matters in the Islamic republic.

"Parliament and the government are following the same path," Larijani told reporters.

"We don't have problems like those in the United States," he said, alluding to the split between President Barack Obama's White House and the U.S. Congress over nuclear talks.

Hardline Iranian lawmakers have repeatedly insisted that a nuclear agreement with world powers can only be binding if it is ratified by parliament.

Some have also criticized the negotiations, saying President Hassan Rouhani's government made too many concessions under an interim deal implemented in January 2014.

But when asked if an agreement would require approval from parliament and Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Larijani said MPs would not stand in the way.

"We are together and there is coordination and consultation between government and the parliament... and all are under the supervision of the leader," he said.

Larijani lambasted a letter from Republican senators last week that said a final agreement could be rescinded by another U.S. administration after Obama leaves the White House.

"What the U.S. Congress did was really amateurish," Larijani said.

"Even their political experts denounced them because they undermined their own integrity. We are not going to copy their mistake."

Iran is engaged in talks with the P5+1 powers (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) about its nuclear activities.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in Switzerland at the weekend with talks breaking off Monday.

The parties aim to agree the political outlines of a comprehensive agreement by March 31, with the final details being hammered out by the end of June.

Khamenei has aired doubts about the twin deadlines, saying political and technical issues should be concluded at the same time.

Some progress has been made towards a deal in recent weeks but the two sides remain far apart on several key issues.

These include the future size of Iran's uranium enrichment capacities - which can make nuclear fuel but also the core of a bomb - the pace at which sanctions would be lifted and the accord's duration.

Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear weapons, insisting it wants an expanded atomic programme for civilian energy purposes.

 

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