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Iranian Legislators Urgently Try To Stop Nuclear Talks

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi opposes the bill and says Tehran would never allow threats to influence the nuclear talks.

Iranian lawmakers have signed and proposed a bill that, if passed by parliament, would stop nuclear talks with the United States until Washington stops issuing threats tied to the outcome of the negotiations.

The 80 lawmakers who signed the bill presented it to a parliamentary board on May 12, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported. The legislation would need to be passed by a majority of the 249-member parliament to be approved.

Lawmakers apparently proposed the bill after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in recent weeks that all military options were "on the table" if diplomacy with Tehran failed, and after the U.S. Senate passed legislation requiring that Congress be able to approve any nuclear deal with Iran..

The Iranian bill, which has "triple urgency" status, would require the government to halt nuclear talks until Washington apologizes and stops making threats against Iran, according to IRNA.

The signatories stipulate, however, that even in the event that talks with Washington stop, negotiations should continue with the rest of the so-called P5+1 -- Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany.

The lawmakers would not "allow the hegemonic powers to undermine the rights of the Iranian nation and the country's sovereignty and independence," reported IRNA.

Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi suggested that certain parties in the nuclear negotiations were trying to "induce some sort of threat," which is why he opposed the bill, according to Iranian media. But he said that Tehran would never allow threats to influence the talks.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani has also voiced his opposition to the bill, according to lawmaker Seyyed Baqer Hosseini. The lawmaker told the semiofficial ISNA news agency on May 10 that Larijani has "firmly opposed the strong reactions [to Kerry's statement], including the proposal of an unprofessional triple-urgency bill which has already been signed by some lawmakers."

Hosseini said Larijani "stressed that we do not have a problem with the nuclear negotiating team; thus, we should allow the negotiators to implement the goal of Iran's Islamic system regardless of hasty reactions."

On May 8, the U.S. Senate passed legislation giving Congress the right to review and perhaps even reject any nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran.

Iranian officials said the vote was part of a "psychological war" against Tehran's negotiators.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that threats during the current nuclear negotiations were "unacceptable.”

He also said Washington "can't do a damn thing ... the era of hit-and-run attacks is gone and the Iranian nation will not let go anyone intending to make an aggression against it."

Iran and world powers are holding talks in Vienna in an effort to strike a comprehensive nuclear deal by June 30. The sides reached an initial framework agreement in April.

With reporting by ISNA, IRNA, and Tasnim news agencies
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    Frud Bezhan

    Frud Bezhan is the editor for Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in the Central Newsroom at RFE/RL. Previously, he was a correspondent and reported from Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Turkey. Prior to joining RFE/RL in 2011, he worked as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan and contributed to several Australian newspapers, including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.