But these are certainly not the only voices coming out of Tehran. Iran’s hard-liners have been criticizing the deal from the start. They say the JCPOA is unilateral and to Iran’s disadvantage, and not only has it had no benefits for Iran but also imposed many restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.
Kamal Kharrazi, who served as foreign minister under Reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) and currently heads Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said on Sept. 21, “If the United States withdraws from the JCPOA, there will be no JCPOA left and past policies have to be pursued.”
In this vein, an informed source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said, “It is clear that if the United States withdraws from the JCPOA, the government of ‘moderation’ and the moderation movement will be weakened. Although Europe has promised Iran that it will continue implementing the JCPOA without the United States, the reality is that the JCPOA’s domestic opponents are unlikely to let Iran continue its commitments under the deal [if this were to happen].”
In a speech on Sept. 17, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “Any wrong move by the hegemonic system on the JCPOA will draw a reaction from the Islamic Republic.” Two days later, on Sept. 19, Khamenei responded to Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly and said, “Caution and precision should have been taken in [preparing] the JCPOA so as to prevent the other party from doing whatever it wants and not be seen in violation of the JCPOA, while any measure by Iran is viewed as a violation of the JCPOA.”