Middle East

Iran's top Guardian Council approves nuclear bill

Iranian parliamentary session on 13 October 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iran's parliament approved the bill on Tuesday

Iran's powerful Guardian Council has approved a deal on its nuclear programme agreed with six world powers, state media reports.

The council's spokesman said they did not find the bill "to be against religious law and the constitution," Fars news agency reports.

The bill is now set to become law. Parliament approved it on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Iran will curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of Western sanctions.

The deal was struck in July between Iran and the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany - after 20 months of negotiations.

It has been met with fierce opposition from hardliners in both Iran and the US.

What's the Iran nuclear deal?

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has agreed to drastically reduce the number of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium, to cap its stockpile and turn one of its two uranium plants into a research centre.

It has also agreed to reconfigure its heavy water reactor at Arak so it so it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will also be allowed in, and it is only when they have confirmed Iran is fulfilling its part of the deal that Western sanctions will be lifted.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told state media on Tuesday he expected sanctions to be lifted within "no more than a month or two" of the JCPOA being full implemented.

Image copyright BBC Sport

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What has been the reaction to the deal?

President Rouhani hailed the deal as opening a new chapter for Iran's relations with the world, while US President Barack Obama said "every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off" for Iran.

But hardliners in both Iran and the US have been vocal in their opposition to any deal that brings their countries closer. Last month, US Republicans failed in their attempt to block the accord in Congress.

Hawkish politicians in Iran sought to prevent its approval in parliament on Tuesday, with state media saying some were seen crying when the bill was passed by 161 lawmakers, with 59 voting against and 13 abstaining.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the ultimate say over Iranian affairs, has not made clear his views on the deal, saying only that "we negotiated with Americans to serve our interests".