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Iran Lawmakers Claim They Were Conned Into Signing 'Bogus' Nuclear Bill

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during nuclear talks in Geneva earlier this year.

A group of Iranian lawmakers are claiming that a bill calling for a halt in nuclear talks with the United States is not the one they signed and was not a matter of "triple urgency."

Signatory Hojjat Khoda'i-Suri said within hours after the bill was passed by a parliamentary review board that the legislation as presented was "bogus." Furthermore, he told the official IRNA news agency, the 80 lawmakers who signed the bill were not aware that it would be given "triple-urgency" status.

According to the Iranian Constitution, a triple urgency bill must go to parliament within 24 hours and is only required at a time of emergency or crisis.

Khoda'i-Suri said he was told that he was signing a mere "double-urgency" bill, which would head to a parliamentary committee before being presented to parliament.

"My signature was in relation to a letter to the president to strengthen the nuclear team," he told IRNA. "And if that would not work, a double-urgency bill ensuring the parliament would supervise the negotiating team would then be considered."

Mohammad Bayatian, another lawmaker, said he did not even know he was signing a bill.

"The letter signed by members, including me, was only a letter to the president and there was no mention of a bill with triple urgency whatsoever,” he said.

Mehdi Mousavi-Nejad, another lawmaker who signed the bill, told Iranian media that the contents of the bill were different from the one he signed.

The legislation was promoted by Javad Karimi-Qoddusi, a hard-line lawmaker from Mashhad who has been a vocal critic of President Hassan Rohani and the ongoing negotiations with world powers over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Some of the signatories told Iranian media that they would withdraw their signatures and file a formal complaint against Karimi-Qoddusi.

Mohammad Hossein Mir Mohammadi, who sits on a board charged with supervising the conduct of Iranian lawmakers, told IRNA that if parliamentarians file complaints against Karimi-Qoddusi, the board would deal with the matter.

The proposed legislation, if approved by a majority in the 249-seat parliament, would require the government to halt nuclear talks until Washington apologizes for perceived threats tied to the outcome of the negotiations, and stops making new ones.

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.

Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency, which published the names of the 80 lawmakers who signed the bill, revealed parts of the proposed legislation.

"The government, foreign policy officials, and members of the negotiating team are obliged to suspend all contacts and negotiations with the Americans regarding the nuclear issue…until the American government officially and explicitly stops threatening the brave nation of Iran," reads the bill.

The bill stipulates, 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.

Senior officials have voiced their opposition to the bill, including parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, who is part of Iran's nuclear negotiating team.

Iran and world powers are negotiating in an effort to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal by June 30. The sides reached an initial framework agreement in April that would allow Iran to retain a civilian nuclear program in exchange for assurances that it will not seek to produce nuclear weapons.

With reporting by IRNA, ISNA, and ICANA news agencies

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    Frud Bezhan

    Frud Bezhan is acting 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.