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Iran Lawmakers Not Allowed To Discuss $1.5 Billion Fund Withdrawal For Military

Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, in the impeachment of Iran's labor, Ali Rabiei, 2018.

The speaker of Iran's Parliament (Majles), Ali Larijani, on Sunday refused to let MPs discuss part of next year's budget bill that allows the withdrawal of up to 1.5 billion dollars from the country's National Development Fund to be spent for military purposes, ordered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The money deposited in the fund out of Iran's oil revenues is supposed to be spent on the welfare of the next generations of Iranians.

The sum is to be withdrawn "to strengthen Iran's defense capabilities," as was declared by the Majles three weeks ago. Observers have said the money is to be spent on Iran's controversial ballistic missile program.

An outspoken reformist MP, Mahmoud Sadeqi, wrote in a tweet posted on Sunday that Larijani did not allow MPs to discuss the matter, and had the withdrawal approved "by just one click," while a number of MPs wanted to discuss the details of the withdrawal.

Iran is facing a budget shortfall as U.S. sanctions have reduced oil export revenues. The Majles has been grappling with the budget for the past two months. The new fiscal year starts on March 21.

Last year, Khamenei had ordered the withdrawal of another 2.8 billion dollars from the fund to be spent on military projects.