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Iran Revolutionary Guard chief backs nuclear deal

General Mohammad Ali Jafari commends negotiatiors, says agreement secures ‘the rights of the Iranian nation’

Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, attends a press conference in Tehran in 2012. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, attends a press conference in Tehran in 2012. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian state television reported Tuesday that the chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has offered his support to Iranian nuclear negotiators. The reported comments by General Mohammad Ali Jafari came as some 200 hard-liners protested Tuesday against the framework deal struck last week between Iran and six world powers.

State TV’s website quoted Jafari as saying: “With God’s grace, the revolutionary children of Islamic Iran have succeeded in defending the rights of the Iranian nation and the Iranian nation and the Guard appreciate their honest political efforts.”

He also said Iran as a nation supported the diplomatic efforts.

The Revolutionary Guard is the single most powerful institution in Iran. It exerts a strong behind-the-scenes role in Iranian affairs.

On Sunday, an Israeli TV report citing Arab intelligence agencies stated that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards “are preparing for war” in the event that negotiations to turn last weeks’s framework nuclear agreement between the P5+1 world powers and Tehran into a binding deal by June 30 collapse.

The Channel 10 report said Arab intelligence agencies have warned “France, the UK and the US” that the Revolutionary Guard fears Iran could face a military strike should the talks break down, and that the Guards are ready to close the Strait of Hormuz and take other unspecified measures.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the US was working as recently as January on improving its biggest bunker-buster bombs in case they were needed for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Israeli TV report highlighted major discrepancies that have emerged between the US and Iran since the framework agreement was announced on Thursday, raising the concern that the non-binding understandings reached to date will fall apart and the negotiations collapse.

The White House said on Friday it was “confident” that it could get the deal “in place” by June 30. But key differences have emerged between the sides on what was agreed to date, and Iranian leaders warned over the weekend that they will resume higher-level uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity if they deem that the world powers are not keeping to what they consider the terms of the agreement.

Iran “will be able to return” its nuclear program to the same level if the other side fails to honor the deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani highlighted one of the central areas of disagreement Sunday — the timing and scale of sanctions relief. While the US has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, an official Iranian foreign ministry fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed.

“During the negotiations, we have always planned for the termination of the economic, financial and banking sanctions and we have never negotiated on their suspension, otherwise, no understanding would be made,” Rouhani said on Sunday. “We will have a difficult path ahead in the stage of drafting the final deal,” Rouhani noted.

Sunday’s Israeli TV report also claimed that Saudi Arabia was furious with the P5+1 negotiators over aspects of the framework deal, notably clauses relating to inspection of Iranian facilities. The failure to ensure “anytime, anyplace” inspection constitutes a central flaw in potential supervision of Iranian activities, Saudi diplomats were reported to be complaining.

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