TEHRAN — Iran’s hard-liners on Friday criticized a tentative nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers — saying the deal was a bargain for the West and a disaster for Iran. Meanwhile supporters of the deal compared Iran’s conservative opposition to the Israeli government — which remains heavily critical of the agreement.
Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and editor of the hard-line Kayhan daily, told the semi-official Fars news agency on Friday that Iran exchanged its “ready-to-race horse with a broken bridle.”
Another conservative analyst, Mahdi Mohammad, referred to the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility and told the news outlet that under the deal, “A disaster happened in Fordo.”
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to stop enrichment at Fordo, changing the facility to a nuclear research center. The preliminary agreement places various limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to crippling economic sanctions.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who signed the agreement, received a hero’s welcome upon his arrival back to Tehran on Friday from the latest round of talks in Lausanne, Switzerland. Crowds of cheering supporters surrounded Zarif’s vehicle and chanted slogans supporting him and President Hassan Rouhani. One of the chants also offered sarcastic “condolences” to both Israel and to the Kayhan newspaper — which has opposed the negotiations from the start.
Zarif tried to reassure Iranians that the country’s nuclear program will continue but said any negotiation requires give and take. “It is not supposed to be one party receiving all the concessions and the other party surrendering,” he said.
Zarif also expressed his gratitude for Khamenei’s support for his team and said Thursday’s agreement, will be a “base for drafting the final agreement,” in July.
Another member of the negotiating team — Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic agency — said, “I see the future very bright and shining.”
The criticism from conservatives is part of a pattern of longstanding opposition by hard-liners against the policies of ostensibly more moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who has promised improved relations with the outside world.
Earlier on Thursday, Ahmad Tavakkoli, a prominent conservative lawmaker, wrote a letter to Rouhani saying the agreement needs ratification by the country’s conservative-dominated parliament. But supporters of the negotiations have claimed that the nuclear talks have been conducted under the direct supervision of Khamenei, and therefore don’t require parliamentary approval. Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, has not made any public comment on the deal.
Iran and the global powers sealed a breakthrough agreement Thursday outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program designed to prevent the country from developing atomic weapons. The West has long suspected Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear research is focused on peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press