Iranâ€™s President Hassan Rouhani has defended his administrationâ€™s deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency after conservatives in parliament called for the judiciary to open a legal case against the president.Â
Rouhani said that the deal with the IAEA was â€œartfulâ€ in that it fully implemented parliamentâ€™s bill restricting IAEA access without opening Iran to accusations of not cooperating with the nuclear watchdog. He accused anyone â€œdistortingâ€ Iranâ€™s accomplishment in this deal of aiding Iranâ€™s enemies.
On Feb.Â 23 Iran technically suspended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,Â which gave the IAEA greater access to Iranâ€™s nuclear program. However, two days prior, Iranian diplomats and IAEA chief Rafael Grossi reached a deal in which Iran would retainÂ certain data for up to three months. If sanctions on Iran are removed, Iran will handÂ the data over to the IAEA. If the sanctions are not removed, Iran will delete it.Â
The United States reapplied sanctions on Iran in 2018 when it exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. While the Biden administration campaigned on reentering the deal, it hasÂ asked Iran to return to full compliance with the JCPOA before removing sanctions. Tehran has incrementally increased enrichment and taken other measures once the United States exited the deal, but claims that it as permitted to take the steps as part of the text of the JCPOA.
Conservatives in parliament passed a bill in December 2020 that called on Iran to suspend implementation of the Additional Protocol. After the deal with the IAEA was announced, those behind the bill, especially Mojtaba Zolnour, the head of the powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, called for the judiciary to open a case against the president and others involved in the deal with the IAEA.
On Feb.Â 22, Iranâ€™s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warnedÂ members of the Assembly of ExpertsÂ about divisions. While he publicly backed the legislation, referring to it as a â€œgood bill,â€ he said of the parliamentâ€™s disagreementsÂ with the administration, “These differences are solvable and the two sides must cooperation to resolve them.Â The differences must not widen, which would show division”
Today, Feb.Â 24,Â parliament speakerÂ Mohammad Bagher GhalibafÂ vowed to heed Khameneiâ€™s warning. He said that the Khameneiâ€™s callÂ for â€œunity and understandingÂ is our responsibility.â€ Even Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan newspaperÂ who opposed the JCPOA and many of Rouhaniâ€™s policies, criticized the parliament for theÂ harsh criticism of the administration. In an editorial, he implicitly defended the deal with the IAEA and wrote that objection to it â€œdid not require thisÂ volume of protest.â€