Iranian Leadership Approves Nuclear Program Pact

TEHRAN, Iran (Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Iran’s Guardian Council gave its approval Wednesday to the landmark international accord that would lift certain economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program.

The vote by the Guardian Council, composed of a dozen clerics and legal experts, follows similar action Tuesday by the Iranian parliament.

Those votes, along with the failure of Republican-led efforts in the U.S. Congress to scuttle the deal, open the way for implementation of the pact, a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda.

Both approvals in Iran were widely expected, despite opposition to the deal from hard-liners opposed to any opening to the West. Iranian lawmakers approved the plan by a large margin after contentious debate.

Analysts say Iran would not have agreed to the accord with six world powers, including the United States, if the nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had not signed off on the accord. Khamenei has the final word in all matters of state policy.

The deal mandates that Iran begin shutting down parts of its nuclear program in coming weeks, including decommissioning thousands of centrifuges that refine uranium.

However, experts say the possibility exists for future disagreements about various contested points, including the thorny issue of United Nations inspectors’ access to military sites in Iran. Tehran says it reserves the right to ramp up “peaceful” nuclear activities in the case of a “violation” by the other signatories to the deal.