German Foreign Minister Martin Schaefer claimed Friday that there are “forces” within Iran that are actively trying to put an end to the nuclear agreement in an apparent attempt to sever the new-found relationship between the Islamic Republic and the west.
“There are forces within Iran for which the policies of the country’s president and foreign minister are a thorn in the eye,” Schaefer told Reuters. “They may be trying, one way or another, to undermine or torpedo the nuclear deal and the normalization of relations between us and Iran. We are watching this closely.”
Schaefer’s statements come in response to the release of several German intelligence reports that say Iran has actively attempted to acquire nuclear weapons technology, contrary to its obligations per last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal).
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service, released an annual report stating that Iran engaged in “clandestine” efforts to acquire nuclear technology and equipment from German companies throughout 2015.
“The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also registered a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran’s ambitious missile technology program which could among other things potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons,” said the report.
“Against this backdrop it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.”
In a separate report released this week, the intelligence agency in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said that two-thirds of the 141 attempts made to acquire nuclear technology in the state had links to Iran.
The “forces” inside Iran Schaefer refers to are likely hard-line elements within the Supreme Leader’s office and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini made no secret of his skepticism regarding the Iran deal before and after it was signed, even threatening to end it unilaterally. The IRGC, which answers to Khameini and controls Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, has been equally critical of the agreement.
Iranian politics have been split between reformers led by President Hassan Rouhani and the hard-liners under Khameini. Rouhani’s efforts to make changes to the Islamic Republic’s extremely conservative, religious governance have been actively hampered by the hard-liners. In Iranian politics, the Supreme Leader is elected to his position for life, and all other leaders, including the presidency, answer to him.
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