Iranian negotiators (R) meeting with Russia's chief envoy Mikhail Ulyanov in Vienna on March 3, 2022

Iranian negotiators (R) meeting with Russia's chief envoy Mikhail Ulyanov in Vienna on March 3, 2022

Some Iran Lawmakers Defend Nuclear Negotiators Against Hardliners


Some Iranian lawmakers have defended the foreign minister against hardliners who claim Iran's negotiators have made too many concessions in the nuclear talks.

Amir-Abdollahian, and the nuclear negotiating team, have been under fire from ultra-hardliners' in the past few days over the contents of a possible agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Ultra-hardliner lawmakers close to the Paydari Front and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili have in the past few days strongly criticized Amir-Abdollahian and the negotiation team for what they say is agreeing to make too many concessions to the US and other Western powers. The "red lines" set by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Parliament, they say, have been crossed.

In a Twitter post on Thursday, Hadi Beiginejad, a hardliner lawmaker claimed that he has examined a "draft of the agreement" and found not only it fails to safeguard Iran's national interests, but it brings on "many more dangers" than the original JCPOA.

Defending the foreign minister in an interview with the official news agency IRNA on Thursday, another lawmaker Ardeshir Motahari responded that some lawmakers were making claims that would only lead to "weakening the negotiating team and the foreign minister".

"Some people are a bowl that is hotter than the soup when it comes to analyzing the process of the talks. They should know being in the middle of the field is very different from making analysis sitting behind a desk," Motahari said about critics of the current negotiators.

In an interview with Gharn-e No in March, Abolfazl Hasanbeigi, former lawmaker and member of the Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, named the Paydari ultra-hardliners in the Parliament as the main opponents of the restoration of the JCPOA who are "few" but "shout" loudly to "keep themselves alive".

Motahari refuted the claims of those who have said their criticisms are based on a "draft of an agreement" and said everyone should believe Amir-Abdollahian if he says there is no draft yet. He also noted that "higher officials", presumably Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are always receiving reports on the process of the talks and receiving advice.

In late February and early March all sides involved in the Vienna talks that started in April 2021 were expressing optimism over the restoration of the JCPOA but on Wednesday the US Secretary of State Antoni Blinken said he was not "overly optimistic" with the prospect of a deal.

The most important of Iran’s ‘red lines’ is presumably removing the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). The Biden administration has reportedly agreed to delist the IRGC but only if Iran agrees not to seek revenge for the US killing of the IRGC's Qods Force commander, Ghasem Soleimani, and to change its behavior in the region.

"Who can believe that any negotiator -- who has been fighting with foreign sides over an issue as important as the restoration of the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions, with the blessing of the system (nezam) -- would not abide by the system's red lines and make an agreement," Mohammad-Sadegh Kharrazi, a former reformist diplomat, asked in a commentary in Ettelaat newspaper on Thursday.

In Iranian media and political discourse, system (nezam), usually refers to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate authority to call the shots on important issues.

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