Top Iran leader endorses nuclear deal despite ‘ambiguities’

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TEHRAN: Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday endorsed the country’s nuclear deal with world powers but said “ambiguities” in the agreement must be guarded against.

Khamenei said he had approved the decision of Iran’s top security committee, the Supreme National Security Council, to implement the deal but it must be “tightly controlled” and monitored “to prevent significant damage”.

His remarks came in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected in 2013 having promised to end the more than three decade-long international economic sanctions.

On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 countries – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – finalized the text of an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Under the JCPOA, limits will be put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all economic and financial bans against the Islamic Republic related to its nuclear program.

In a related development, a commission comprising representatives from Iran and the P5+1 met in Vienna last Monday to discuss the implementation of the JCPOA.

Iran has always denied pursuing an atomic weapon but its arch foe Israel, which is the regions sole nuclear power, is bitterly opposed to any deal with the Islamic Republic and believes Tehran has attained the capacity to assemble the bomb on short notice.

In the letter, Supreme Leader, who has the final word, said the Vienna  agreement had “many ambiguities and structural weaknesses”.

“In the absence of tight control these could bring significant damage for the present and the future of the country,” he said.

The deal, once implemented, will lift all nuclear-related international sanctions against Iran, in return for stringent curbs on its nuclear programme, including its enrichment of uranium.

The main provisions of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), extend for between eight to 15 years.

However, Ayatollah Khamenei said any new sanctions against Iran by the world powers (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) would be a breach of the accord.

If this occurs “under any pretext by any country engaged in negotiations, it will be a violation of the JCPOA and the Islamic Republic will be obligated to stop the agreement,” the 76-year-old leader said.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama and the European Union announced measures to ensure the lifting of sanctions, including those on Iran’s banks and energy sector, as soon as international monitors have closed a probe into possible military dimensions of Tehran’s past nuclear activities.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to complete its final report into potential military aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme by December 15. 

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