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Iran's Powerful Revolutionary Guards Chief Warns Of ‘Nuclear Sedition,’ U.S. Plot

IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari says the adoption of the nuclear deal by the Iranian parliament would create a “new atmosphere” that would give Iran’s external and internal enemies more fuel to lead the country away from revolutionary ideals.

The commander of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has denounced unspecified events surrounding Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers as “sedition” tied to a U.S. plot to derail the Islamic republic from its revolutionary path.

Speaking on October 8, IRGC chief Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari cited “nuclear sedition” as among four key dangers masterminded by the United States that Iran has faced since the revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah in 1979.

It was not clear from Jafari’s comments whether he used the term to refer to the nuclear deal itself or to the efforts by the United States and other countries to bring Iran's atomic program to a halt.

But he said that the “nuclear sedition” and the three other key threats faced by Iran were orchestrated by the United States and its “entourage” inside Iran.

Iran struck the nuclear deal in July with the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany. The agreement significantly restricts Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Jafari said that the adoption of the nuclear deal by the Iranian parliament would create a “new atmosphere” that would give Iran’s external and internal enemies more fuel to lead the country away from revolutionary ideals.

"From the beginning of the revolution, the Americans have been trying to penetrate Iran, but all their attempts have been fruitless. But today the infiltration by the enemy is one of the most important threats," Jafari was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Jafari listed the other three key “seditions” as the 1980-88 war with Iraq; the landslide 1997 election of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami and the reform movement that was stymied and repressed; and the 2009 mass street protests over the disputed reelection of then-President Mahmud Ahmadinejad that shook the Iranian establishment.

His comments appear to highlight concerns by Iran’s hard-liners that the nuclear agreement would open up the country to U.S. influence, strengthen the moderates, and diminish their power.

Since the deal was reached, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned of “infiltration” attempts by the United States and told officials -- namely, the IRGC and its intelligence branch -- to remain vigilant and reinforce the foundation of the revolution.

Khamenei, who has repeatedly praised Iran’s nuclear negotiators, has not publicly endorsed the deal. But officials have said that he was informed about the details of the talks and that progress was made under his guidance.

Speaking on October 7, Khamenei banned further negotiations with Washington, citing “countless harms.”

"Negotiations with the United States means opening the gates to their economic, cultural, political, and security influence. Even during the nuclear negotiations they tried to harm our national interests," Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iranian news sites.

Last month, Khamenei warned that “political infiltration” would mean that “the direction in which the country moves will be according to the will of hegemonic powers.”

Comments by Khamenei, Jafari, and other hard-line figures in the Iranian establishment stand in clear contrast to public statements by Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who is seen as a moderate, and his allies, who have suggested that Iran is open to better ties with the world.

Rohani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone in 2013 in the first direct exchange between top officials from the two countries since the 1979 revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah.

Last month, Rohani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, became the first Iranian official since the revolution to shake hands with a U.S. president. Zarif and Obama shook hands on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in a brief gesture that the Iranian foreign minister later called an “accident.”

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL focusing on Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.