Iran approves nuclear deal bill outline after successful ballistic missile test
'No intention of aggression' in test of missile that could hit Israel, defence minister says
Iran's parliament on Sunday approved an outline of a bill that would allow the government to implement a historic nuclear deal reached with world powers, the official IRNA news agency said.
State TV meanwhile announced that Iran had successfully test-fired a new long-range ballistic missile, the first such test since the nuclear deal was reached in July.
The bill allows the government to withdraw from implementing the agreement if world powers do not lift sanctions, IRNA said. Final approval of the bill is expected later this week after further discussions.
The landmark deal would curb Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Western nations have long suspected Iran of secretly pursuing nuclear arms, allegations denied by Tehran, which says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.
"The government should stop its voluntary co-operation in implementation of the deal if the other side fails to remain committed to lifting sanctions," the bill says. It says the response should be the same if new sanctions are imposed or previous ones restored.
IRNA said 139 lawmakers out of 253 present voted for the bill. The chamber has 290 seats.
The session was unusually tense, with hard-liners repeatedly trying to prevent a vote on the deal. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who makes all final decisions on key policies, has said it is up to parliament to approve or reject the deal.
Lawmaker Ruhollah Hosseinian, an opponent of the deal, said parliament needs to discuss it in detail. Until now, it has only been reviewed by a special parliamentary committee.
"Every [international] agreement must be approved and passed by the parliament. Otherwise, it won't be legal," Hosseinian said.
Hard-liners hope to stall approval of the deal in order to weaken President Hassan Rouhani's moderate administration ahead of February's parliamentary elections.
High-precision Emad missile
Iran's Defence Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan meanwhile hailed the new surface-to-surface missile, saying it "will obviously boost the strategic deterrence capability of our armed forces."
State television showed what appeared to be a successful launch of the new missile, named Emad, which will be Iran's first precision-guided weapon with the range to strike its regional arch-enemy Israel.
"The Emad missile is able to strike targets with a high level of precision and completely destroy them ... This greatly increases Iran's strategic deterrence capability," Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said at a televised news conference.
"Our leadership and armed forces are determined to increase our power and this is to promote peace and stability in the region. There is no intention of aggression or threats in this action," he added.
State TV showed footage of the huge missile being launched in a desert area, but did not elaborate on its range or the specifics of the test.
The UN resolution endorsing the nuclear deal called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran says none of its missiles are designed for that purpose.
Since 1992, Iran has boasted an indigenous military industry, producing missiles, tanks and light submarines. The government frequently announces military advances which cannot be independently verified.
The Islamic Republic already claims to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres that can hit Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
With files from Reuters