A former senior official of Iran’s Foreign Ministry and a lawmaker have warned that "infiltrators" in the upper echelons of the government pose a threat to national interests.

A former Director General for the Middle East, Mohammad Ali Sobhani, has said in an interview with Entekhab website last week that "a radical group of infiltrators are furthering measures that prevents the Iranian government from normalizing its relations with other countries."

In April 2021, former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said that Russia interfered in Iran's domestic affairs particularly by dictating ideas to the top-level commanders of the revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Zarif said that Russia summoned former IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani to Moscow on a few occasions. 

Sobhani did not name any individual as an 'infiltrator,' but he stated that although he had suggested to the government the need for a team of experts to advance the negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, the government appointed Ali Bagheri-Kani as Iran's chief negotiator. He added that Bagheri did not seem to possess the right expertise and experience for the job. In the interview, Sobhani said, “I knew that he was not the right person to revive the JCPOA.”

He mentioned that due to Bagheri's performance, which yielded no tangible results, both sides came to the conclusion that the talks were not progressing effectively. Consequently, they considered the possibility of pursuing an interim agreement.

Mohammad Ali Sobhani, a former Director General for the Middle East office of Iran’s Foreign Ministry

Sobhani further stated that if President Ebrahim Raisi was truly committed to serving the people of Iran, he should have promptly pursued a comprehensive agreement with the United States after assuming office in August 2021.

Sobhani remarked, “The government and its foreign minister consistently assert that Iran seeks an agreement, yet they contend that the United States does not uphold its promises. Bagheri has also reiterated that returning to the JCPOA is the only solution to the political impasse.”

He added, “However, two obstacles hinder an agreement between Iran and America. The first pertains to a radical group of potential infiltrators opposing the normalization of Iran's situation. The second set of obstacles involves the technicalities within the JCPOA.” If the government fails to normalize the country's situation by reaching an agreement and lifting sanctions, it will face more severe economic consequences.

The former diplomat reiterated, “I believe that Iran's main problem lies in the sanctions. These sanctions can only be lifted through international agreements, particularly with the United States.”

In a separate development, conservative lawmaker Ehsan Arkani stated in an interview with the Etemad Online website on Thursday that “a deviant current has infiltrated the government, the parliament, and the country's management system.”

Referring to a recent conflict between the parliament and the Interior Ministry, Arkani noted that “the influence of the deviant current extends beyond the Interior Ministry and has spread throughout a significant portion of the government, the parliament, and the country's administrative system.”

Attributing a significant portion of the country's problems to President Raisi's government, he highlighted a 50-percent inflation rate wreaking havoc, a standstill in agriculture and animal husbandry, a major water shortage, and unpaid teachers and pensioners. Arkani reminded that around 220 lawmakers had called on Raisi to run for the presidency in 2021.

He added that while the government is incapable of resolving these issues, it feigns disputes with the parliament to divert attention. Arkani reiterated, “A deviant group within the government is tarnishing the reputation of the parliament and its members while striving to ensure that the upcoming parliament's members will represent the government rather than the nation."

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