Farhad Rezaei writes: As is well known, the Iranian regime is deeply divided along sectoral and ideological lines. On one side are moderates, also known as the normalizers, who, under President Hassan Rouhani, hope to use the JCPOA to “normalize” Iran and integrate it into the family of nations. On the other side are the hardline Principalists, largely concentrated in the parastatal sector such as the Revolutionary Guards, the big foundations, and the ultraconservative Haqqani Circle of clerics. The Principalists have objected to the nuclear deal and reject international reintegration. While Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is essentially a hardliner, he was anxious about the legitimacy crisis triggered by international sanctions and empowered the normalizers to negotiate the JCPOA.
For the moderates, the response to looming possible decertification has been a difficult balancing act.
Under pressure from hardliners, Rouhani was forced to warn the United States that Iran would not stay silent if Washington exerts more pressure on Iran. In an interview with CNN on Sept. 19, Rouhani said that Washington will pay a “high cost” if Trump makes good on his threats. The Iranian president also stated that his country would not enter new negotiations. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned that Washington would lose credibility if it walks away from the JCPOA and urged European countries to uphold the agreement if the US does not.
Significantly though, the normalizers, have not threatened to quit the agreement should Trump decline to re-certify it. [Continue reading…]