Iranian parliamentary panel gives conditional nod to nuke deal
DUBAI: An committee of Iran's conservative-dominated parliament gave its support on Sunday to Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers on condition there would be no foreign inspections of military sites and no curbs on developing its missile programme.
These proposals, contained in a report by a special parliamentary committee evaluating the agreement, could become law if passed by the assembly and approved by a top clerical body that vets proposed legislation.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on September 3 he favoured a vote in parliament on the nuclear deal, but it will still go to him, as the country's highest authority with the ultimate say on all state policy, for approval.
Many see the chance of the leadership eventually rejecting the deal as small, since Tehran needs the removal of sanctions to revive its economy.
However, while the agreement is meant to last many years, there is a risk it could fall apart one day if Iran or its counterparties determine the terms have been breached.
As a result powerful factions in Iran continue to voice skepticism about the accord to try to shield themselves from a politically-damaging backlash in the event that it falls apart.
The deal reached with six world powers on July 14 imposes strict limits on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions, easing decades of mounting hostility with the West. The West suspects the programme was aimed at developing the means to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says it seeks only peaceful atomic energy.
"The vital necessity of protecting military secrets makes it imperative to ban visits of foreigners to (military installations) under the guise of inspections and interviews with nuclear scientists," the report carried by Fars state news agency said.
"In order to guarantee the country's security ... special attention should be given to missile capability ... and helping countries which fight terrorism and fulfilling the military needs of friendly countries," the report, also carried on state broadcaster IRIB's website, added.
The report also said the government should suspend its measures limiting Iran's nuclear programme under the agreement if any sanctions are reimposed against the Islamic Republic.
The conservative-dominated parliament set up the committee to assess the agreement despite opposition by the government of pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani, which said the deal should only be reviewed by Iran's top national security body.
In September, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said environmental samples had been taken at a sensitive military site in Iran, citing "significant progress" in its investigation of Tehran's past activities.
Inspecting the Parchin military complex is a crucial part of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inquiry into whether Iran earlier conducted experiments there related to developing nuclear weapons. Iran has not granted UN nuclear inspectors access to Parchin for a decade.
Under a roadmap signed with the IAEA alongside the nuclear deal, the IAEA is due to provide an assessment of "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program by the end of the year.
The Islamic Republic is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear program to allow the Vienna-based watchdog to write a report on the issue by year-end, a step that is a precondition to significant sanctions relief.
The IAEA has drawn criticism over the confidential arrangement with Iran governing how inspections are done at Parchin. US critics have argued that it limits the IAEA's ability to investigate and gives Iran too much influence in the collection of samples.
According to the nuclear deal, any transfer to Iran of ballistic missile technology during the next eight years will be subject to the approval of the United Nations Security Council, and the United States has promised to veto any such requests.
An arms embargo on conventional weapons also stays, preventing their import and export for five years. But Iran has said it would not follow parts of the nuclear deal that restricts its military capabilities.