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Last month's nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers was an achievement for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, and President Hassan Rouhani.Here, the priorities of Khamenei and Rouhani differ. For Khamenei throughout, facilitating the nuclear negotiations has involved managing domestic politics.While the leader has backed Rouhani (in 2013 calling the negotiators "children of the Revolution"), he has also maintained ambiguity – partly to calm fundamentalists' fears over concessions, partly to present a poker face to world powers, partly to hedge against talks failing, and partly to counteract any sense in Iran that talks might lead to an early, wider rapprochement with the U.S.This militates against an early thaw in wider U.S.-Iran relations, and helps explain Khamenei ruling out talks on resuming formal diplomatic relations with the U.S., broken off following the 1979 Revolution.The leader has also warned against any "exploitation" of the nuclear agreement, a message to reformists not to take the JCPA as a green light to demand political or social changes. Reformists who boycotted the 2011 parliament elections may do so again.
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