Some experts have said the hard-liners have been muted in their criticism because they are quietly pleased with the agreement, in that it concedes their fundamental, nonnegotiable demand that Iran be allowed to continue to enrich uranium. But equally, if not more, important is their relationship to Ayatollah Khamenei, without whose blessings no deal would have been possible.
A Tehran-based analyst with ties to the senior leadership, Amir Mohebbian, has said that Ayatollah Khamenei ushered Mr. Rouhani into power with the idea of shifting course from the Ahmadinejad years and testing President Obama’s sincerity about reaching a nuclear deal. Having now seen the ayatollah praise the nuclear deal “as it was presented to him” — a deliberate ambiguity that will enable him to shift course again, should he so decide — the hard-liners have been guarded in their remarks.
One theme that is emerging clearly from the hard-line camp is that Iran has already compromised as much as it can. “We have shown flexibility, now all sanctions should be lifted,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, a Revolutionary Guards commander. “Otherwise, the interim nuclear deal is a reversible path.”
“Be sure that Mr. Rouhani will come under lots of pressure inside Iran,” said Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a hard-line member of Parliament. “If sanctions are not fully lifted, this temporary deal can be canceled easily.”