TEHRAN, Iran: Iran’s parliament on Sunday approved an outline of a bill that would allow the government to implement a historic nuclear deal reached with world powers, the official IRNA news agency said.
State TV meanwhile announced that Iran had successfully test-fired a new long-range ballistic missile, the first such test since the nuclear deal was reached in July.
The bill allows the government to withdraw from implementing the agreement if world powers do not lift sanctions, IRNA said. Final approval of the bill is expected later this week after further discussions.
The landmark deal would curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Western nations have long suspected Iran of secretly pursuing nuclear arms, allegations denied by Tehran, which says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.
“The government should stop its voluntary cooperation in implementation of the deal if the other side fails to remain committed to lifting sanctions,” the bill says. It says the response should be the same if new sanctions are imposed or previous ones restored.
IRNA said 139 lawmakers out of 253 present voted for the bill. The chamber has 290 seats.
The session was unusually tense, with hard-liners repeatedly trying to prevent a vote on the deal. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who makes all final decisions on key policies, has said it is up to parliament to approve or reject the deal.
Lawmaker Ruhollah Hosseinian, an opponent of the deal, said parliament needs to discuss it in detail. Until now, it has only been reviewed by a special parliamentary committee.
“Every (international) agreement must be approved and passed by the parliament. Otherwise, it won’t be legal,” Hosseinian said.
Hard-liners hope to stall approval of the deal in order to weaken President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate administration ahead of February’s parliamentary elections.
Iran’s defense minister general Hossein Dehghan meanwhile hailed the new surface-to-surface missile, saying it “will obviously boost the strategic deterrence capability of our armed forces.”
He said the missile, named Emad or pillar in Farsi, was a technological achievement for Iran. He said it can be guided until the moment of impact and hit targets “with high precision.”
State TV showed footage of the huge missile being launched in a desert area, but did not elaborate on its range or the specifics of the test.
The UN resolution endorsing the nuclear deal called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran says none of its missiles are designed for that purpose.
Since 1992, Iran has boasted an indigenous military industry, producing missiles, tanks and light submarines. The government frequently announces military advances which cannot be independently verified.
The Islamic Republic already claims to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can hit Israel and US military bases in the region.