Parrying Doubts In Two Capitals, Leaders Sell The Iran Nuclear Deal : Parallels Iranian leaders trying to gain support for the nuclear deal at home are turning to a surprising place for talking points: Israel. The sales pitch in Washington? The alternative would be much worse.

Parrying Doubts In Two Capitals, Leaders Sell The Iran Nuclear Deal

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/424702931/424722525" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Since last week, we've heard a lot from the Obama administration promoting the nuclear deal reached with Iran, but we haven't heard much about how the Iranian leadership is pushing the deal. This morning, the U.N. Security Council endorsed the agreement, clearing the path to ease economic sanctions once Iran rolls back its nuclear program. This immediately drew complaints from hardliners in Tehran who oppose the deal their president made. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report on some of the ways Iran is selling the plan to its people.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: As Iranians get their first look at this nuclear agreement, they're hearing a lot of arguments, and some are citing a surprising source - Israel. Iran's Fars News, linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, ran a headline announcing, "Israel Is The Only Loser In The Nuclear Agreement." Press TV reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still fuming, while the semi-official Irna News Agency added what might be a bit of wishful thinking to its headline - "Your Time Is Over, Mr. Netanyahu."

Analysts, such as Jim Walsh with MIT's security studies department, say it's striking to see Iran using Israel's loathing for the accord as a selling point.

JIM WALSH: It is striking, but it makes good political sense. Iran has a lot of antipathy towards Israel, and so citing your enemy as saying that it hates this deal could be very persuasive to an Iranian domestic audience.

FARIDEH FARHI: Absolutely, in some ways, you could say that the panicked reaction by Prime Minister Netanyahu is all the Iranians need to sell the agreement.

KENYON: That's Iran analyst Farideh Farhi at the University of Hawaii, who says it's an especially effective argument against a certain group of Iranians - ideological hardliners who will feel extremely uncomfortable being in the same boat as Israel.

FARHI: Not only to the Iranian population, but also to refer the hardliners to that panicked reaction and say, what are you talking about? Are you going to behave in the same way that Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing?

KENYON: The heart of Iranian efforts to sell this deal, though, is more substantive and more troubling to the West. When Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech over the weekend, the supreme leader focused on exactly what hardliners want to hear - nuclear deal or not, Tehran will continue to pursue policies that have led Washington and others to brand Iran a state sponsor of terrorism.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI: (Through interpreter) We will keep supporting our friends - the innocent nations of Palestine, Yemen, the governments of Syria and Iraq, the innocent people of Bahrain, and the true resistance of Lebanon will always have our support.

(APPLAUSE)

KENYON: At the moment, Jim Walsh at MIT says the most serious threat to the Iran deal is located in Washington, where the Obama administration is trying to sell a nuclear accord to a balky Congress. American negotiators are emphasizing the nuclear concessions Iran will make. That might bother hardliners in Tehran, but in Washington, critics will be questioning the compromises made by the U.S. administration on sanctions and verification. Walsh says despite political pressures, lawmakers will face a pretty fundamental choice if the deal comes up for a vote.

WALSH: The Congress is going to have to ask itself, do I want to take responsibility for killing an international deal that the rest of the world supports?

KENYON: A similar question is confronting Iranian hardliners, who are well aware that most Iranians are eager to re-engage with the outside world. The assumption in the West is that critics in Iran can be controlled by the supreme leader. But Iran has its own political pressures. Concerns are still building in Tehran with the Revolutionary Guard general saying there are serious problems with this deal and a conservative activist worrying that the language on sanctions relief is ambiguous. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his top negotiators are due to brief the Iranian parliament on the deal Tuesday, as efforts to sell this agreement go on. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.