Parliament Approves Nuclear Deal

October 13, 2015
Iran’s parliament voted to approve a resolution permitting the government to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On October 11, 139 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill’s general provisions, with 100 lawmakers against and 12 abstaining. And on October 13, Parliament approved the details of the bill, with 161 lawmakers in favor and 59 against. Another 13 members of parliament abstained, 17 did not cast a vote, and 40 were not in attendance. The bill was ratified on October 14 by Iran’s Guardian Council, which is tasked with making sure legislation does not contradict religious laws or Iran's constitution.
 
The vote came after a heated debate that included death threats. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi defended the JCPOA during a parliamentary session on October 11. They faced shouting, threats, and harsh criticism from hardliners. One lawmaker, identified as Ruhollah Hoesseinian, reportedly threatened to cover Salehi with cement in the Arak reactor.
 
 
The debate wrapped up a multifaceted process by parliamentary committees to review the JCPOA. On October 4, the Iranian parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing the nuclear deal presented its preliminary report to the Parliament. It highlighted both the strengths and weaknesses of the JCPOA but emphasized the harmful effects some provisions could have on Iranian security. The committee is working on final report, some 1,000 pages long, that will be sent to top officials in all government branches in two months.
 
Strengths: 
 
  • Six U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran would be lifted 
  • Iran would reserve the right to keep its heavy water reactor in Arak as well as the enrichment facility in Fordow 
  • Iran could continue to develop its missile program without restrictions 
  • Economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted 
 
Weaknesses: 
 
  • The JCPOA would require Iran to do more than other countries who are signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
  • Iran would not be able to quickly resume its nuclear program due to required technical changes, such as limiting the number of centrifuges 
  • Inspection of military sites would create security risks 
  • The deal may would leave Iran more vulnerable to foreign intelligence  
  • Certain sanctions would not be terminated until eight years after implementation of the deal
 
The report proposed introducing and voting on a resolution, within the week, that would give the government permission to implement the JCPOA under certain conditions. The key issue regarding next steps was timing. Lawmakers voted against fast-tracking the bill to the extent recommended by the report. So 75 lawmakers instead introduced a bill that would allow for 20 days of review. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani preferred voting sooner rather than later. “The more it is delayed, it harms us,” he said. Larijani referred the motion to the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission for review, which quickly approved it. 
 
The resolution, known as the Iranian Government’s Reciprocal and Proportional Action Bill, specifies that the administration should stop its voluntary activities and “adopt reciprocal measures” if the other countries party to the agreement violate its terms. Iran should engage in these measures to “restore the rights of the Iranian nation,” particularly if sanctions are not removed. The motion stresses the importance of Iran’s security and the need to protect classified information during inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

 

The following are quotes from officials on the Iranian parliament’s vote to implement the JCPOA.
 
Iran
 
 
Government Spokesperson Mohammad Bagher Nobakht
 
"Members of parliament made a well-considered decision today showing they have a good understanding of the country's situation. We hope to see acceleration in progress and development of the country from now on."
—Oct. 13, 2015, according to the press
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
 
"The decision to approve the bill was the Islamic Consultative Assembly's decision alone…All those who voted for or against the bill view Ayatollah Khamenei as their leader."
—Oct. 13, 2015, according to the press
 
Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi 
 
I consider it an Islamic and humanitarian obligation for myself to appreciate the sincere efforts made by all relevant officials in achieving this blessed status."
October 13, 2015, according to IRNA
 
 
Member of Parliament Ruhollah Hosseinian
 
“After the release of the Lausanne statement, when Mr. Zarif attended a parliamentary committee session, I criticized him and told him that he had given psychological ammunition to the enemy.”
 
“I told him that the Zionist regime of Israel would threaten us with nuclear bombs on a daily basis after Iran was stripped of such a tool. In fact, a few days later, the former Israeli defense minister threated to bomb Iran with nukes.”
 
“Once again, I reminded Mr. Zarif that if the Zionist regime attacked Iran or if the US launched a strike against Iran because of JCPOA, people would arrest you and put you on trial. I also told Mr. Salehi that [at that time] if I were in charge, I would make him dig out cement from the core of the Arak Reactor, throw him inside and encircle him with cement. I did not say that I would pour cement on him, I said I would encircle him with it.”
 
“I told Zarif and Salehi that I hope my prediction about JCPOA won’t come true, but if it does happen, I will treat them the very same way I told them I would.”
—Oct. 13, 2015, via Iran Front Page
 
Member of Parliament Abbas Ghaedrahmat
 
“The bill comes with a number of necessities, among them: protection of the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights and achievements; observing religious and legal aspects defined by the Supreme Leader on talks with P5+1; and preventing infiltration and unilateral measures of the other side.”
 
“This bill allows the government to voluntarily implement JCPOA if it can abide by what has been envisioned in nine articles and two notes for the implementation process, including the Supreme Leader’s fatwa on the atomic weapons, WMDs and nuclear disarmament, and the need for Iran to clarify its stances.”
 
“Through this bill, the Iranian parliament will shed light on its stances: we need to remove all nuclear weapons in the world.”
 
“The rights of the Iranian nation should be respected and any pressure and threat [by the other side] will trigger a rethink of cooperation [with P5+1]. The government should carefully monitor failure by the other side to terminate sanctions or its imposition of [new] sanctions. If so, the Cabinet is expected to act in kind to reclaim the rights of the Iranian nation. Voluntary cooperation should be brought to a halt in case of the other side’s lack of cooperation.”
 
“The nuclear negotiating team managed to win some concessions in the talks. I call on fellow MPs to vote for the bill so that the fate of JCPOA can be fixed soon.”
—Oct. 11, 2015, during the parliamentary debate on the bill, via Iran Front Page
 
Member of Parliament Alireza Zakani
 
“This team failed to get the rights of the Iranian people from the American wolves.”
—Oct. 11, 2015, according to the press
 
Member of Parliament Hamid Rasai 
 
“This is not the voice of the Supreme Leader, Majlis has become a place for the decision making of Larijani and Shamkhani."
October 13, 2015 via Nasim Online 
 
European Union
 
E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy