/ 23 July 2015

Obama, Rouhani defend Iran nuclear deal

Iran President Hassan Rouhani.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani.

The elite Revolutionary Guards, a powerful political and military force, has started to attack the country’s nuclear deal as endangering Iran’s security and have also hit out at a UN Security Council resolution passed on Monday endorsing it.

In remarks that will be seen as admonishing critics of the accord, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech: “Now they are scrutinising one by one the terms of the deal reached in Vienna and the UN Security Council’s resolution 2231.

“That’s good but what has happened is more valuable and more significant than that,” he told a medical conference in Tehran.

“How can one be an Iranian and not cheer for our negotiating team?” Rouhani added, referring to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, both of whom were present for Rouhani’s speech.

He argued that the deal reflected the nation’s will and suggested that blocking the accord would ignore what the people had asked for when they elected him to office in 2013.

“This is a new page in history. It didn’t happen when we reached the deal in Vienna on July 14, it happened on August 4 2013 when the Iranians elected me as their president.”

Rouhani and US President Barack Obama both have to win support for the nuclear accord from hardliners at home.

In the case of Iran, the deal must get final acceptance from the National Security Council and ultimately from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s highest authority. He has withheld final judgment, thanking the negotiators while saying the text must still be scrutinised and approved. 

Republicans steadfast in opposing deal
Meanwhile, Obama’s administration has taken its Iran sales pitch to Capitol Hill, where secretary of state John Kerry, energy secretary Ernest Moniz and treasury secretary Jack Lew sought to persuade skeptical US lawmakers that a nuclear accord agreed to by Tehran and six world powers was the best possible outcome after nearly two years of negotiations.

But there was little indication on Wednesday that the classified briefings had led to any immediate breakthroughs, with most Republicans remaining steadfast in their opposition to the deal and Democrats yet to make up their minds.

Lawmakers who attended the meetings continued to express concerns over the implementation of the agreement – chief among them whether or not Iran would be compliant with its terms – even as they described a projection of absolute confidence on the part of the Obama administration during the discussions.

Obama has already pledged to veto any efforts to scuttle the deal and warned of grave consequences if the US does not hold up its end of the bargain. Support from Democrats will be critical for the president to maintain his veto power, with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress and almost uniformly against the deal from the outset. – Reuters, – © Guardian News & Media 2015.