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Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 21:12

Iranian council approves nuclear deal

By Agencies

Iranian council approves nuclear deal

TEHRAN, Iran — A senior council of clerics and officials in Iran on Wednesday approved implementing the landmark nuclear deal with world powers, sealing the final required step in the process despite hard-liners' efforts to derail it.

Iranian state television reported that the Guardian Council, one of the top leadership bodies in Iran's cleric-ruled system, gave final approval to a bill passed by parliament to implement the deal.

The 12-member council, half appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and half by the country's judicial chief with parliament's approval, must sign off on all bills before they become law.

The bill grants responsibility for implementing the deal to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the top security body of the country, which President Hassan Rouhani heads. It allows Iran to withdraw from the agreement if world powers do not lift sanctions, impose new sanctions or restore previous ones.

The bill also requires the Iranian government to work toward the nuclear disarmament of Israel, which has the region's sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal. The bill also says the government should take "necessary measures" to prevent the U.S. and the West from penetrating the country through the deal, a concern mentioned by Khamenei himself in recent weeks.

Hard-liners had hoped to stall the deal in order to weaken Rouhani's moderate administration ahead of February's parliamentary elections. But many in Iran applauded the final nuclear deal, struck July 14 in Vienna, as it would lift crippling economic sanctions in exchange for limits on the nuclear program.

Iranian council approves nuclear deal
An image grab taken from footage broadcast on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) on Oct 14, 2015 reportedly shows missile launchers in an underground tunnel at an unknown location in Iran. (AFP PHOTO / IRINN)


Also on Wednesday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard opened the doors of a secret underground missile base to state TV, showing off medium- and long-range missiles.

The station aired footage of long tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks. The broadcast said the facility is one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country. It didn't disclose the location but said it was 500 meters (1,600 feet) underground.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Guard's aerospace branch, boasted that the facility is the "tip of the iceberg" of the Guard's military might.

The broadcast appeared aimed at showing that the Guard will continue its missile program despite UN Security Council resolutions and despite Iran's nuclear deal with the West.

Earlier on Sunday, Iran's defense ministry said they successfully test-fired a long-range missile named "Emad." It's Iran's first long-range missile that can be guided and controlled until hitting the target, the defense minister said.

The White House later said "strong indications" showed that Iran's recent test of the new precision-guided ballistic missile violated a UN Security Council resolution. The US will work with its world partners "to engage a strategy to try to disrupt continued progress of their ballistic missile program," said the White House press secretary.

However, the White House insisted that the incident does not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.

The P5+1 group, namely the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, reached the nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna, Austria, on July 14. The accord would provide sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for limits on its controversial nuclear program.

Iranian council approves nuclear deal
This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Oct 11, 2015, claims to show the launching of an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile in an undisclosed location.  (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)
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