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Senior Iranian officials continue to lash out against the recent nuclear deal even as the Obama administration begins to implement it, according to a series of statements by the Islamic Republic’s leaders.
The aggressive rhetoric comes as the Obama administration celebrated on Sunday the implementation of the deal, hailing it as a “milestone” in U.S. diplomatic history. However, Iran has balked.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to his Twitter and Facebook pages to post an announcement titled, “Negotiation with America is Forbidden,” according to translations of the documents provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Other Iranian officials have demanded that the U.S. completely terminate economic sanctions, rather than suspend them, per the nuclear deal.
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Some Iranian leaders have stated that President Obama will announce this week the full termination of sanctions, a move that would likely spark anger on Capitol Hill.
The White House said on Sunday that it would move forward with sanctions relief, even as Tehran insists it will not uphold its own end of the accord.
“Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
“I have directed that the heads of all relevant executive departments and agencies of the United States begin preparations to implement the U.S. commitments in the JCPOA, in accordance with U.S. law, including providing relief from nuclear-related sanctions as detailed in the text of the JCPOA once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has completed all of its nuclear steps,” Obama said.
Critics of the deal maintain that Iran’s continued threats of violence against America and Israel could derail the agreement. Iran also has, in recent days, tested ballistic missiles, which is prohibited under United Nations resolutions and potentially a violation of the accord.
“For America negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran means penetration. This is their definition of negotiation and they want to open the way for imposition,” Khameniei declared on October 16, just two days before the deal went into effect. “Negotiation with America is forbidden, because of its countless detriments and because of alleged advantages of which it has none whatsoever.”
The institute, among others, has warned that these statements could mean that Iran will not honor the deal, even as the United States waives sanctions and releases more than $150 billion to Iran.
It is unclear whether Iran will officially announce its adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the institute said in an analysis of Khamenei’s remarks. “It is also not clear whether the U.S. will announce its suspension of sanctions and the E.U. will announce its termination of sanctions, as per the agreement,” the institute said.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a senior Iranian cleric who is secretary general of Iran’s Guardian Council, said that declarations by the U.S. administration do not mean Iran is ready to begin upholding the agreement.
“There are those who think that approval by the [Iranian Parliament] means approval of the execution of the agreement in Iran. This is not so,” Jannati said on Friday in Tehran. “Approval regarding the nuclear agreement is not [approval of] its execution.”
“The nuclear agreement was discussed in the Supreme National Security Council and council members expressed their opinion about it and gave their approval regarding its execution,” he continued. “But Leader [Khamenei] still has not signed it.”
Iran continues to insist that sanctions be fully terminated and not reimposed in any manner going forward.
“The termination of the sanctions must be taken seriously. If they are terminated, it is a sign that the nuclear talks and agreement have yielded results,” Jannati said. “But if the other side breaks its promises and instead of terminating the sanctions [merely] freezes or suspends them, this shows that the nuclear agreement was useless.”
Nejatollah Ebrahimian, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, said on Saturday that the joint plan “remains a political document, not a legal one” because Iran has not officially approved it.
Jannati and other leaders have expressed concern that the U.S. will try to force Iran to end its support to terror groups such as Hezbollah.
“If we do not stand fast against the other side, then the next day they will say that we must officially recognize Israel, give equal rights to men and women, cancel executions, sever relations with Hizbullah, and so on,” he said.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, also said in recent days that Iran has not approved the accord.
“We have not approved the [joint plan] in the way that the other side has said,” Larijani was quoted as saying by the institute. “We also have not said that it should be executed as is, but rather that the [plan] should be placed in the framework of the steps taken by the Supreme National Security Council. Ultimately, this council’s approvals are sent for the approval of the Leader.”