Iranian Interpretation of the JCPOA: Statements from Iranian Officials

September 2, 2015

Rouhani: Violating UNSC Resolution 2231 does not violate the JCPOA. President Hassan Rouhani discussed future elections, the government’s economic goals, and the legal review process for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during a press conference on August 29. 

  • Rouhani claimed that the nuclear agreement will not reduce Iran’s defensive capacity, stressing that Iran did not and will not accept any type of restrictions on its defensive power. He stated that “there is nothing in the JCPOA about missiles, defense, and weapons. Those that exist are in [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231… In this new resolution, restrictions have been proposed instead of sanctions. The export and import of weapons have been converted from a permanent ban to a five-year restriction. It also says that Iran cannot design missiles that can launch a nuclear warhead, although we never pursued and will not pursue that work… Meanwhile, we clarified in the JCPOA that violating the resolution does not mean violating the JCPOA.” He added, “We unveiled the Fateh 313 missile so that the world would recognize that our path is the same one that we told our negotiators.”

Araghchi and Ravanchi attend JCPOA review session in Parliament. Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi attended the fourth meeting of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said that Araghchi highlighted the “achievements of the JCPOA” during the meeting. The Spokesman of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA added, “Araghchi...said that according to the JCPOA, our nuclear rights are preserved, Fordow and Natanz are preserved, [UN] Security Council resolutions are canceled, and nothing is mentioned about missile or weapons activities in any part of the JPCOA. These two issues have come up in the Security Council resolution, and are not binding for us. It is also mentioned in the JCPOA that if [the] JCPOA is violated, sanctions will be returned, but… if a violation of the resolution [occurs], sanctions will not return.” 

Ravanchi: JCPOA “does not require Parliament’s approval.” Majid Takht Ravanchi dismissed the need for Parliament to approve the JCPOA. The Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs stated:  “It is not necessary for Parliament to ratify the JCPOA, because… it is not like a protocol or an international treaty.” 

Senior Artesh commander: “No country has the right” to govern Iran’s military affairs.  Brigadier General 2nd Class Ali Jahanshahi, commander of the Iranian Army’s Northeastern Operational Base, reiterated the Supreme Leader’s redline on military site inspections and stated that Iran has not signed an agreement with any country concerning inspections of military facilities. Jahanshahi stressed that Iran does not need to ask for permission to supply or produce its military needs and equipment and warned: “If any country or anyone wants to intrude in this regard, it will certainly face our crushing response." 

Rouhani: “Sanctions will be removed one after another.” President Hassan Rouhani discussed the nuclear deal at a ceremony in Hamadan province. Rouhani stated, “After 23 months of efforts and negotiations by [our] revolutionary brothers and heroic diplomats…we have returned true security to this country.” Rouhani added, “Today, according to their own resolution, they [the P5+1] do not just recognize our right to enrich, but in the resolution, all the powerful countries are bound to support Iran in achieving better technology in the nuclear field.” Rouhani also stated:  “The sanctions will be removed one after another; our people will enjoy all of their economic and business rights and, God willing, we will witness rapid, sustainable growth and development in future months and years…” 

Rouhani: “We will buy and sell weapons whenever” we want. President Hassan Rouhani discussed Iran’s military capabilities during a speech for “Defense Industry Day” in Tehran on August 22. Rouhani emphasized that Iran pursues a defensive strategy of deterrence and added, “Our policy of détente, ‘convergence,’ and confidence-building does not conflict with the defensive power of military industries in the country; if a country does not have strength, independence, or stability, it cannot pursue real peace.” Rouhani also stated:

  • On the arms restrictions in the nuclear agreement: “The only thing that was in the [UN Security Resolution 2231] was not to build any missiles with the ability to carry nuclear warheads; we have never pursued this goal anyway.”
  • Rouhani emphasized that there are no “military-related issues that will limit the armed forces” in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 
  • “We will sell and buy weapons whenever and wherever we deem it necessary…we will not wait for permission from anyone or any resolution.”
  • On strengthening Iran’s defense capabilities: “We must strengthen the defensive power of the country in order to ensure the stability of the nuclear deal and security in the country.”
    • “Before the [Islamic] Revolution, we were only consumers of weapons and foreign equipment…praise be to God, in recent years, we have made huge steps in design, construction, and equipment; we are moving towards complete self-sufficiency; every day there is a new achievement.” 

SNSC deputy: I did not sign the separate agreement with the IAEA. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Undersecretary for Strategic Affairs Ali Hosseini Tash rejected allegations in an August 19 Associated Press report that he signed an agreement with the IAEA which stipulates that “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate” the Parchin military complex. The AP released a purported transcript of the original draft of the agreement, which names Hosseini Tash as Iran’s proposed signatory for the agreement. In response, Hosseini Tash stated, “There is no agreement [signed] by the SNSC undersecretary for strategic affairs and the IAEA.” Hosseini Tash also argued that the SNSC secretariat’s responsibilities do not typically include signing such an agreement. Speaking to reporters on August 22, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi also stated, “It is not right as [the] AP reported that Iranian experts instead of IAEA staff will inspect the country's nuclear sites."

Pourdastan: No inspections at military facilities. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan reiterated the Supreme Leader's redlines, stating that "inspections will not be allowed" at any military sites. 

Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader: We must use the JCPOA to our advantage. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda stated that “today we must use the issue of the nuclear deal, whether it gets passed or advance our own goals, especially against the arrogant powers, as the Supreme Leader has specified.” The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, claimed that “our Supreme Leader and our people will ignore the issue of missile restrictions that the UN Resolution [2231] brings up, like all the other imposed regulations that our people have ignored.” Alam ol Hoda emphasized that the missile restrictions are not binding and “therefore must not be implemented.” 

Kamalvandi denies AP report on Parchin inspections. Behrouz Kamalvandi dismissed a recent Associated Press report that cited a document claiming Iran will use its own inspectors at the Parchin military site. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesperson stated no such secret document about Iran-IAEA cooperation has been disclosed, and that the IAEA has upheld its commitment to keep documents protected. 

Rouhani: Iran did not compromise on its principles or goals in the negotiations. President Hassan Rouhani commented on the nuclear deal during a meeting with provincial and government officials. Rouhani stated, “Our main goal [in the negotiations] was keeping facilities for nuclear activity and protecting enrichment and the right to research and development…we managed to achieve these goals well.” Rouhani also stated: “This goal [of sanction relief] was also achieved and established… considering that they [the P5+1] insisted that first there will be suspension and then the gradual removal of the sanctions, the complete and simultaneous removal of the economic sanctions for us is a great achievement.”

Nobakht: The JCPOA does not require approval from Parliament. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and Parliament’s role in approving it during his press conference on August 18. The Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President reassured the nation that “Iran had the upper hand” in the nuclear negotiations. He stressed that that the government will not allow the U.S. to exploit the JCPOA to infiltrate Iran. Nobakht stated:

  • On approving the JCPOA: “As long as there is no signature from the President [Rouhani] in the [nuclear] agreement, according to the law, this agreement should not be sent to Parliament.”
  • Nobakht stated that the nuclear deal “does not require the approval of any institution other than the Supreme National Security Council.”
    • “That has been the case with [previous] agreements struck at Saadabad and in Paris. They were never presented to Parliament for [approval].” (

Salehi: The JCPOA is not a treaty or convention that should go to Parliament. Ali Akbar Salehi praised Iran’s nuclear negotiators during a speech at a university in Mashhad, saying that the JCPOA is proof of the success of both the principle of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) and Iran’s “model of resistance.” The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head said Iran has entered “the club of nuclear technology holders” with the JCPOA and that the world will see Iran differently after the agreement, which will end global “Iranophobia and Shiaphobia.”

  • On the JCPOA and the UN resolution: Speaking on the differences between the JCPOA and UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231, Salehi said that in the JCPOA there is “no section on conventional weapons, but they are talked about in the resolution [UNSC Resolution 2231].” In UNSC Resolution 2231, he said that “bans became restrictions…This means that the weapons ban has been shoved aside.”
  • On sanctions: “The EU will cancel their own sanctions after 90 days and the American president will also cancel sanctions… The implementation time depends on Iranian actions…The faster we fulfill our obligations, the faster sanctions will be cancelled.”
    • On parliamentary approval of the JCPOA: “According to the Constitution, something that must go to Parliament must be a type of treaty or convention. Otherwise, the government will sign agreements during its session.” He said that the JCPOA is neither an agreement nor a convention, and of the P5+1 members, only America has taken an action like sending the JCPOA to Congress. (Entekhab)

Araghchi denies connection between JCPOA and halt in missile tests. Abbas Araghchi said that Iran’s pause in missile tests “has nothing to do” with the JCPOA, and that the missile tests “might have been stopped for some other good reasons.” The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs added that the arms embargo in UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231 is not binding and that Iran can "skip its implementation." Araghchi stated that lifting the arms embargo has never been part of Iran’s red lines. 

Ravanchi: "There is no separate agreement behind the curtain." During a conference with the Article 90 Parliamentary Commission, Majid Takht Ravanchi discussed the nuclear deal, stating that the agreement "is the result of a collective work" and will require "a comprehensive look." 

  • On sanctions: He added that once sanctions are lifted, anything related to Iran's economy and industry, including "financial, banking, transportation, and insurance," will be lifted at that time. He also added that the day the EU and the U.S. lift the sanctions is when the centrifuges at Natanz will begin "to slow down." 

Iran in talks with Russia to purchase Sukhoi fighter jets. Defense Minister Dehghan stated that Tehran is “discussing the purchase of Sukhoi fighter planes” from Moscow. Dehghan added that Russia has agreed to start delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Iran by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March, 19, 2016).