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What are Iran's conservatives saying about the nuclear deal?

Iran's conservatives are warning that a nuclear deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will not necessarily lead to better relations with the US.

The announcement of a nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) has been welcomed by most Iranians and Reformist media. The prospect of sanctions relief has overjoyed many Iranians who have sensed the crushing impact of sanctions. But the nuclear concessions Iran made in exchange for those sanctions relief has some Iranian conservatives worried on non-nuclear related issues.



The problem for many conservatives is that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on the nuclear program, has generally supported the deal. In his only response, through an open letter thanking the president and his negotiation team for their efforts, Khamenei wrote that the deal was “an important step.” However, he also warned that the text of the agreement “should be considered carefully” and “once ratified, be careful of possible violations of the opposing side.” He added, “You know well that some of the six opposing governments cannot be trusted.”



Khamenei’s position and the generally accepted idea that Iran needs to show a united front in the nuclear talks has muted some of the harsher criticism of a nuclear deal. Still, a close look at the more hard-line media shows that there is still some criticism of the deal.



Mojtaba Asghari wrote an article in Vatan-e Emrooz arguing that “Iran, despite all of the efforts of the Westerners, is not on the threshold of collapsing from within, but we do not have a doubt that underneath the bowl of a final agreement there is a half non-nuclear bowl.” The article warned that a “war of civilizations” still exists and that Iranians must “tighten their belts of faith.”



Mohammad Sarafi wrote in Kayhan newspaper that despite the fact that a nuclear deal was signed, “its waves will be non-nuclear.” Sarafi argued that “in contradiction to the imagination of some, not only will this agreement not result in a cooperation between Iran and the US on regional issues, but there is a strong chance it will increase the chance of conflict.”



Sarafi wrote that for the United States the nuclear deal “is the beginning of a long list” that includes other issues such as terrorism and human rights. As an example, Sarafi objected to President Barack Obama placing the Islamic State and Iran next to each other by assuring Arab countries in the Persian Gulf of protection against these mutual threats. Sarafi also rejected the idea that the United States has changed its policies with respect to Iran, arguing that both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said negotiations were the only path to resolve this dispute.



Surprisingly, Mehdi Mohammadi, who was an adviser to former hard-line nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, had an overall positive view of the deal. In Tasnim News Agency, he wrote that while it may take time to judge all of the dimensions of the deal, “Overall, it could be said that the special negotiation strategy of the supreme leader produced a balanced text.” He added that the nuclear negotiators should be thanked for their efforts.



Mohammadi warned, however, “The implementation of such an agreement is more difficult than arranging and signing it.”