Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times has been in Iran for a decade now, and it usually shines through (we’ve complemented him in the past for this). So we were more than a bit perplexed by his recent article headlined “Iran’s Hardliners Keep Their Criticism of Nuclear Pact to Themselves.”
In fact, rather than “watching from the sidelines” – as Erdbrink claimed – prominent Iranian officials and analysts have been extremely vocal in their criticism of what they view as Hassan Rouhani’s concessions to international demands on Tehran’s nuclear program. Admittedly, much of this criticism is in Farsi, but that shouldn’t be an obstacle for the veteran NYT correspondent.
For example, after the deal was sealed, former foreign minister and current Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by Radio Farda as saying that the controversial Arak heavy water reactor constituted a red line not up for negotiation.
Meanwhile, Majlis chairman Ali Larijani declared this week that Iran’s nuclear activities would continue even with the deal in place, according to Iran Press News. Meanwhile, an Iranian foreign affairs expert known for his conservative views slammed his country’s delegation to the talks for signing the deal, which he likened to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay that recognized European – in this case, Russian – sovereignty over Persian territories.
(Today the treaty is used by Iranians to symbolize their country’s submission to foreign powers; one of our earlier posts noted that veteran Khamanei aide Ali Akhbar Velayati once equated signing the IAEA’s Additional Protocol with the treaty.)
Unlike the NYT suggestion, evidence seems to indicate that Rouhani’s political adversaries are revving up their engines – a convenient state of affairs for Khamanei. Stay tuned.