Tehran: Iran's government was forced to deny it had already struck a nuclear deal with the West, after a lawmaker accused its negotiators of secretly selling the country short.
In a sign of the domestic political tension surrounding talks being held abroad with world powers, Iran's foreign ministry yesterday threatened to prosecute the member of parliament who said an agreement that breaches the Islamic republic's "red lines" had been settled.
A group of hardline lawmakers in Tehran have repeatedly warned Iran has already given up too much in talks with the United States and other leading nations under an interim deal that traded curbs on its nuclear programme for limited sanctions relief.
However Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have pushed ahead despite pressure back home, consistently stating a comprehensive agreement is possible by a November 24 deadline.
The West wants a tight deal which would stop Iran from enriching uranium to the point where it could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
Iran has always denied seeking atomic weapons but insists on "industrial level enrichment" for its civilian energy programme and on keeping existing nuclear technology.
Yesterday's remarks, however, by conservative lawmaker Alireza Makani laid bare the resistance Rouhani faces.
"According to received information and news, an agreement between the Iranian delegation and the American side has been finalised," Makani said, according to the Iranian parliament's website.
"There are reports that the system's red lines have been crossed in an implicit agreement which will no doubt weaken the rights of the nation and trample upon all our nuclear achievements," it quoted him as saying.
The so-called red lines refer to 11 points set by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which must be observed by negotiators before the Islamic republic will sign a deal.
One of the stipulations includes "the absolute need for Iran's uranium enrichment capacity to be 190,000 SWU (Separate Work Units)" -- close to 20 times its current processing ability.
"MPs are completely kept in the dark," Makani said. "If the negotiating team acts without considering the parliament it will cause many problems which would be against the national interest... Then the negotiating team should bear the consequences."
Makani did not provide proof for his allegations, which were met by a stern rebuke from the foreign ministry.