Iranian Candidate Claims Khamenei Permitted Attacks on JCPOA

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Tehran’s mayor, who is a candidate in Iran’s presidential election, has claimed on national TV that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei permitted politicians to attack the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

In a televised roundtable on Saturday, June 15, Zakani said, "In 2015, I expressed my concerns about the JCPOA to the Supreme Leader. The Leader emphasized that officials should fulfill their duties regarding the JCPOA, which led me to draft an urgent parliamentary bill to clarify the dimensions of the agreement."

Zakani, who is a staunch hardliner, was speaking about relentless attacks by conservative loyalists of Ali Khamenei that started almost immediately after the JCPOA was signed and continued throughout the presidency of Hassan Rouhani until 2021.

Zakani, who has been sanctioned by Western countries for his role in suppressing protests in Iran, added, "After reading the JCPOA, I said I wouldn't sign such a contract with my own brother."

Alireza Zakani

Under the pressure of UN Security Council sanctions, the Islamic Republic began secret talks with American officials sometime in 2013. These initial discussions eventually evolved into official multilateral nuclear negotiations, culminating in the signing of the JCPOA.

When the talks began, Khamenei famously referred to his decision as demonstrating “heroic flexibility,” indicating a willingness to reach an agreement with the West. It was clear at the time that he had authorized the negotiations, although his demeanor suggested reluctant approval.

Hardliners almost immediately began attacking the agreement, and it was clear to those in Iran that without Khamenei’s permission no one would dare to question such a strategic decision. Despite Khamenei’s own public blessing for the agreement, hardliners blamed Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for being pro-West and compromising Iran’s interests.

Zakani insisted that Khamenei did not endorse the JCPOA. "Some decided on behalf of the regime and claimed it was the regime's decision, but that was not the truth," he declared. In the political jargon of the Islamic Republic the word “regime” often means Ali Khamenei.

However, on Saturday, Fayyaz Zahed, candidate Masoud Pezeshkian's representative, said during a debate on the radio, "The JCPOA was the decision of the regime, not the Hassan Rouhani administration." But hardliners would not have any of that. Amirhossein Thabati, Saeed Jalili's representative, declared during the radio debate that "This agreement is a burden that Rouhani and Zarif imposed on the country, and now even a thousand wise men cannot lift it."

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