Tehran: The secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) indicated on Thursday that it has nearly finished examining Tehran`s landmark nuclear deal with world powers but will announce no conclusion before the U.S. Congress does.
The SNSC and parliament are both perusing the text of the July 14 pact mandating Iran to curb its nuclear work in exchange for a removal of sanctions, mirroring Congress which has the right to approve or reject it in a vote to be taken by Sept. 17.
"We are in the final stages of examining the deal in the Supreme National Security Council," SNSC secretary Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.
"The results will be announced around the same time that the P5+1 announces theirs," he was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA, referring to the six global powers that reached the diplomatic breakthrough with the Islamic Republic.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate power in Iran to clear or sink the deal, has so far refrained from commenting decisively on the matter, although he has said he does not trust the United States to honour its commitments.
The SNSC is headed by President Hassan Rouhani, a relative pragmatist who won Khamenei`s approval to negotiate an end to a volatile nuclear stand-off with the West and has championed the outcome of the talks. But there are also sceptics among the other 12 SNSC members, who include senior figures in government and the hardline security establishment.
Iran`s parliament voted in June, before the deal was struck, to give the SNSC the right to issue a verdict on it. But some lawmakers still insist on their right to review the text, and parliament on Wednesday appointed 15 MPs
to an ad hoc committee to do just that.
U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to gather 34 votes in the Senate to ensure Congress cannot kill the nuclear deal. Twenty-five senators, all Democrats, have said they will support it. Opposition Republican hardliners are strongly opposed.
Officials in Rouhani`s government have argued against involvement by Iran`s parliament, where hardliners predominate.
Senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi has suggested it is in Iran`s interest to keep what was negotiated in Vienna as a loose voluntary agreement rather than one based on legislation passed in parliament.
Esmail Kosari, an influential member of the new ad hoc committee, accused the government of trying to bypass parliament. "To lift the nuclear sanctions, Iran should make some commitments. And according to law the parliament should examine any agreement that brings commitment," Kosari was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, a powerful conservative and former chief nuclear negotiator who also sits on the SNSC, told Tasnim a parliamentary say is necessary. "I am also quite knowledgeable in this field and that`s why we formed a special committee in the parliament to examine it line by line."