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Iran Hardliners In Parliament Table Motion To Restrict Talks With US

A motion tabled by 35 Iranian lawmakers on Sunday July 11, calls for a "ban on the Islamic Republic officials' negotiations with US officials" without seeking the permission of the Iranian Parliament (Majles).

The motion that has already been put on the agenda of the Majles, suggested that those who negotiate with US officials without parliamentary approval should be subjected to jail sentence for 5 to 10 years and dismissal from government service.

It might be too late, though, if the intention is to try to convince the United States that there are forces in Iran other than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who can call the shots about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US and other regional states officials have repeatedly said recently that they are certain it is Khamenei who introduces the general policies of the regime, and that it is he who makes all decisions regarding Iran's foreign policy.

But Iran so far has played the parliamentary card when in December the Majles passed a law to get tougher with the West by further violations of the nuclear deal if US sanctions were not lifted. That move came as Tehran knew that Donald Trump would be soon out of the picture and Joe Biden was ready to negotiate.

It is also generally understood and also reiterated by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that all key decisions about the nuclear deal are made by no one other than Khamenei. In other words, statements made by players such as the Iranian president, the parliament and numerous civilian officials and military commanders who usually talk big about all matters including the nuclear issue, are merely formulaic statements that do not determine or define state policy.

During the past decade, the parliament played a serious role about nuclear negotiations only twice and both times it was cajoled by Khamenei. Once in 2014, when Khamenei engineered parliament's approval for the JCPOA and then in December 2020 by upping the ante in brinksmanship with the coming Biden administration.  

The new motion calls US sanctions against Iran "shameful and irrational," and condemns the targeted killing of IRGC Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani by the US forces in January 2020. It also condemned the US for having sanctioned Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi and other officials. The motion did not name Khamenei and his financial ventures as some of those sanctioned by the United States. 

Meanwhile, condemning the US for designating some Iranian military organizations as terrorist, the motion did not name the Revolutionary Guard, IRGC.

The strongly worded motion also cautiously exempts negotiations about matters relating to international pacts, agreements and treaties based on the Iranian Constitutional Law. This is paradoxical, because the JCPOA is officially an agreement that has been approved by the Iranian parliament.

The details about how to carry out the requirements of the motion once it is approved by the parliament, shall be determined by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Intelligence, the Iranian Judiciary and the IRGC Intelligence Organization, Fars news agency which is close to the IRGC reported.

Most of the 35 lawmakers who signed the motion, including Hossein Ali Haji Deligani, Ali Asghar Annabestani, Jabbar Kouchakinejad, Morteza Aga Tehrani and Mohammad Saleh Jokar are affiliated with the ultraconservative Paydari Party whose members were close to former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now comprise one of the strongest factions in the Iranian parliament.

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