Khamenei Had Full Knowledge of Iran Nuclear Deal, Official Says

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Portrait
A portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hangs between missiles displayed at a square in southern Tehran. Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had full knowledge of the provisions his country agreed to in its nuclear accord with world powers, a negotiator said, backing President Hassan Rouhani against domestic critics of the deal.

“We will stand by this agreement and will defend it any level,” said Hamid Baeedinejad, the Iranian foreign ministry’s director of political international affairs, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. “The Supreme Leader is fully aware of the decisions and so is Dr. Rouhani.”

Khamenei is Iran’s ultimate authority and his approval is needed for the agreement to go through. While he hasn’t commented publicly on the framework agreement, the remarks by Baeedinejad, who was part of the negotiating team in Switzerland, indicate that Khamenei has endorsed the accord.

Negotiators from Iran and world powers now have three months to reach a comprehensive deal that would help end Iran’s isolation and ease sanctions that crippled the nation’s economy.

On Sunday, Iran’s military chief General Hassan Firouzabadi congratulated Khamenei on negotiators’ success in comments that may indicate the political establishment’s official line in presenting the deal at home.

Thanks to Khamenei’s leadership and efforts by Rouhani’s team of negotiators, “another step was taken to ensure Iran’s inalienable right” to produce peaceful nuclear energy, Firouzabadi said in a letter to Khamenei, the Fars news agency reported.

‘No Question’

“There is no question that the Supreme Leader has been fully informed of all developments,” said Saeed Laylaz, an economist and former adviser to ex-president Mohammad Khatami. Firouzabadi’s comments show the nuclear agreement “has been endorsed” and that security forces also back the government, Laylaz said on Sunday.

The agreement between Iran and the group known as P5+1 -- the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany -- announced April 2 doesn’t commit either side to action and is an outline to be fleshed out by the end of June. Iranian hard-liners say the accord will harm their country and allege that Iranian and U.S. leaders are presenting different versions of the deal to their nations.

At a conference in Tehran on Sunday, conservative academics pointed to different statements made by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, about the extent of sanctions relief and other topics.

Different Objectives

“They say that we prevented Iran from accessing atomic weapons and in our account we underline that we are maintaining our peaceful nuclear program,” said Baeedinejad, the negotiator, referring to U.S. officials. “Iran and the West have two different objectives so the rhetoric cannot be the same.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who unsuccessfully lobbied against an agreement, called it “a nightmare deal for the world.”

Netanyahu has called for tougher sanctions against Iran as a way to extract more concessions, advice rejected by the White House. Israel’s intelligence and strategic affairs minister, Yuval Steinitz, said Monday that Iran must see no alternative to dismantling its nuclear program, and that his country would press the world to “dramatically” revise the accord.

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