TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's military chief on Saturday backed a landmark nuclear deal with world powers despite having concerns over it, the official IRNA news agency reported, a major endorsement that could allow conservatives to back an accord hard-liners oppose.
Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces and a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke of 16 advantages of the deal in comments published by the news agency. While acknowledging concerns the military has, Firouzabadi wrote that both a recent United Nations vote on deal and the accord itself "have advantages that critics have ignored."
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, has not publicly approved or disapproved the deal. However, he repeatedly has offered words of support for his country's nuclear negotiators.
Iran's parliament and the Supreme National Security Council, the country's highest security decision-making body, are to consider the agreement in the coming days.
The July 14 deal between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — is meant to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. Hard-liners have accused moderate President Hassan Rouhani and the country's nuclear negotiators of giving too many concessions in return for too little.
Meanwhile Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected a report by the Institute for Science and International Security that claimed satellite imagery showing crates, trucks and construction may be linked to a renewed attempt to clean up its Parchin before an inspection by the U.N.'s nuclear monitor. Zarif said work at Parchin was for a "road-building project" and called the report's allegations "baseless," according to comments published by IRNA.