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Conservative Ayatollah Says Nuclear Agreement Must Be 'Burned'

Ayatollah Jannati speaking at a ceremony as Supreme Leader Ali khamenei presides. File photo

Amid the controversy over the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, an influential ayatollah says, "Ultimately, the deal should be burned."

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, 91, who chairs the influential Assembly of experts, is an ultraconservative cleric and longtime opponent of JCPOA. He often echoes the views of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

"Europe is not helping preserve JCPOA by demanding additional negotiations on issues like missiles", IRNA reported Jannati as saying on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, January 17, the official news agency IRNA had quoted an "EU spokesperson" as having said "on the condition of anonymity" that the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for trade with Iran "is about to become operational."

Nevertheless, hours later, a European Union official in Brussels denied the report. RFE/RL's correspondent in Brussels said that a senior EU official told reporters the SPV is not ready yet and added that the trade issue is part of a larger bundle of issues related to Iran.

The official spoke at a briefing on the condition of anonymity. He added that the SPV "is not ready" yet.

Since the withdrawal of Washington from JCPOA last May, EU has been trying to keep Tehran committed to the deal through SPV. Nonetheless, EU members have been reluctant to host the SPV so far.

Tehran has been putting pressure on Europe arguing that without economic benefits there is no point in staying committed to the nuclear agreement. In return Europe has been promising to establish a trading mechanism to facilitate trade with Iran, using more of a barter system, rather than a regular banking payment system that can violate U.S. sanctions.

In his latest anti-JCPOA remarks, Jannati has reflected the position of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the deal.

Ayatollah Jannati and other Iranian hardliners have repeatedly accused EU of implying delaying tactics in its negotiations with Iran.

Immediately after President Donald Trump declared that Washington would drop JCPOA, Khamenei fired back, by saying, "If Americans tear up the JCPOA, we will burn it."

Referring to the comment, Jannati has blamed President Hassan Rouhani's Administration for not burning the deal as Khamenei wished.

"Ultimately, you (the government) will burn JCPOA," Jannati insisted, adding, "Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Europe, if not worse, is not better than the US. EU is also wasting time. To depend on Europe is outright stupidity."