Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday endorsed a landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers, but warned the government to be vigilant, saying the United States cannot be trusted.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, endorsed the deal in a letter to moderate President Hassan Rouhani that was read on state TV. Until now he had declined to publicly approve or reject the deal while expressing support for Iran’s negotiators.
The agreement reached in July with the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.
Western nations have long suspected Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, charges rejected by Tehran, which insists its program is entirely peaceful.
The agreement has been the subject of fierce debate within Iran, with hard-liners arguing that the negotiators gave up too much ground. They also fear the agreement could lead to a broader rapprochement with the United States, which they still deride as the “Great Satan.”
Khamenei’s expression of support largely resolves the debate in favor of Rouhani’s moderate camp, handing them a major victory ahead of parliamentary elections.
But Khamenei also warned that the agreement “suffers from multiple structural weaknesses and ambiguous points that can lead to present and future great harms to the country in the absence of precise and constant vigilance.” He added that “any remarks saying the structure of sanctions will remain in place are considered a breach” of the agreement.
Khamenei controls a business empire worth around $95 billion – a sum exceeding the value of his oil-rich nation’s current annual petroleum exports and could benefit the most from sanctions relief according to report by Reuters.
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