Iranian president Hassan Rouhani just gave a televised speech on the political framework agreement on his country’s nuclear program hammered out on Thursday that offers plenty of insight into how Iran interprets the deal.
According to a translation from Middle East Eye’s Twitter feed, Rouhani believes that the agreement enshrines Iran’s nuclear rights and presages the lifting of sanctions:
Rouhani also emphasised the economic aspects of the deal, casting sanctions relief as one of its primary accomplishments:
Public statements from Iranian officials are critical at this point. It’s unclear what if any document was actually signed in Lausanne, or even how many different versions of the agreement are circulating. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that a White House fact sheet on the deal is “spin.” And there’s a glaring discrepancy between the EU-Iranian joint statement on the deal and the White House’s claims on the verification regime that Iran agreed to.
Statements from the Iranian side could help clarify whether the Lausanne announcement corresponds to a concrete set of agreements. It’s still unknown whether the sides actually made commitments that could lead to a final deal — or whether Lausanne was just aimed at publicly justifying further negotiating rounds in the absence of substantial progress.
Iran’s president is portraying the deal as a victory for the Islamic Republic, as he has to: Rouhani must sell the deal against the opposition of regime hardliners who fear that any big agreement with the US could undermine a regime for whom anti-Americanism has been a longstanding ideological pillar.
Rouhani believes that Iran’s rights as a nuclear nation have been recognised and that the US and its partners agreed to substantial and perhaps imminent sanctions relief.
Iran could use this recognition of its “rights” to push against having to accept greater restrictions under a final deal, and maybe to argue for “provisional” rather than full adaptation of additional International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. And during further negotiating rounds, Iran may argue that it was promised more immediate sanctions relief than the US claims it will be granting.
Rouhani’s speech suggests that some very specific agreements were reached in Switzerland, at least on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and right to enrich uranium. But it also implies that there are a lot of other details that remain up in the air.
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