A senior cleric has challenged Iran’s historic nuclear deal with world powers, echoing a cautious early assessment of the accord by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an arch-conservative who has the last word on matters of state.
Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani did not dismiss the accord in his remarks at Friday prayers in Tehran, but his language was sufficiently tough – some terms of the deal were an “insult” and “excessive”, he said – to indicate unease about the accord within Iran’s clerical establishment.
His remarks contrast with the praise given to the accord by President Hassan Rouhani and the Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
His remarks came as the US Secretary of State John Kerry faced his own domestic critics, saying he raised the topic of detained Americans at every meeting he held with Iranians during the final weeks of nuclear negotiations and that he is hopeful Tehran would release them.
The Obama administration has faced criticism for not securing the Americans’ release as part of the deal.
President Barack Obama held talks on Friday with the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, in his first meeting with a key ally following the Iran deal.