Article Iran: Law on Nuclear Agreement Approved by Guardian Council

(Nov. 5, 2015) On October 14, 2015, the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran determined that legislation passed by Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) the previous day, approving a multi-lateral nuclear agreement was consistent with the country’s Constitution and Islamic law. The agreement had been concluded with the United States and five other world powers – China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. (Alexandra Farone, Iran Council Gives Final Approval to Nuclear Deal, PAPER CHASE (Oct. 15, 2015).) The seven parties reached the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on July 14, 2015. (Full Text of the Iran Nuclear Deal, WASHINGTON POST (last visited Oct. 28, 2015); Alexandra Farone, Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Agreement, PAPER CHASE (July 14, 2015).)

The Guardian Council is entrusted with making sure that draft laws do not contradict the country’s Constitution or religious laws. It comprises “six Muslim clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader [the paramount official of the country, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and six lawyers elected by parliament.” (Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Iran’s Guardian Council Passes Nuclear Bill into Law, REUTERS (Oct. 14, 2015); Karim Sadjadpour, The Supreme Leader, IRAN PRIMER (updated Aug. 2015).)

Under the newly adopted Law on the Proportional and Reciprocal Measures of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Implementing the JCPOA, the Iranian government may voluntarily implement the Agreement if the government abides by the following orders and obligations:

  • no Iranian government “has the right to produce or use nuclear weapons,” and the government must actively follow international nuclear disarmament policy and actively participate “in all international, legal and diplomatic efforts to save humanity from the danger of nuclear weapons and their proliferation,” by, among other measures, “creating zones free of weapons of mass destruction, especially by creating a Middle East regional alliance free of nuclear weapons and particularly the nuclear disarmament” of Israel (Iran’s Law Approving Nuclear Deal – Full Translation, CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Oct. 19, 2015) (translated by Sam Wilkin & Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, REUTERS);
  • Iran will re-evaluate its cooperation under the JCPOA if there are steps taken “built on pressure or threats under any pretext, as determined by the Supreme National Security Council” (id.; Islamic Republic of Iran: The Supreme National Security Council, IRAN ONLINE (last visited Oct. 28, 2015);
  • should the other side show lack of commitment to the effective lifting of sanctions, move to restore lifted sanctions, or seek to impose new sanctions for any reason, the Government of Iran “must take reciprocal steps” to preserve Iran’s rights, halt voluntary cooperation, and rapidly expand the country’s peaceful nuclear program so that “within two years the country’s uranium enrichment capacity increases to 190,000 SWU (separative work units)” (Iran’s Law Approving Nuclear Deal – Full Translation , supra);
  • the government has the duty to pursue Iran’s nuclear program “with regard to trade and industry, including in the fields of enrichment and research and development, in accordance with the long-term plan of the country’s Atomic Energy Agency,” and within two months of the adoption of the Law, must “obtain the Supreme National Security Council’s approval of a 15-year long-term national plan in the fields of enrichment and research and development and present this plan to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] so that it shall meet the fuel needs of the country’s power and research reactors” (id.);
  • the re-design of the heavy water reactor near the city of Arak “and the necessary exchange of enriched reserves are subject to drawing up final superseding contracts and receiving a guarantee of their implementation” (id.);
  • IAEA oversight should be conducted within the framework of international regulations and with consideration of the country’s national security interests specified by the Supreme National Security Council, and the government must ensure that the country’s secrets and classified information are preserved, with the IAEA taking the precautionary measures necessary to guarantee this. The government will not permit access to military sites or nuclear scientists for purposes of IAEA oversight under the pretext of the Agreement, except on a case-by-case basis approved by the Supreme National Security Council (id.);
  • to preserve Iran’s security and national interest and protect its allies in the fight against terrorism, the government and armed forces must take the necessary measures to strengthen the country’s defense capability in all offensive and defensive aspects, “including air, sea, land and missiles; creating a defence against nuclear attacks; building nuclear generators, nuclear batteries, and neutron imaging; and pursuing nuclear medicine” (id.);
  • the (central) government and other government and public bodies must abide by measures that ensure “that America and other foreign governments are not allowed to act opportunistically or abusively in the country as a result of implementing the JCPOA” (id.); and
  • the government must spend the unfrozen financial assets in a legal framework supportive of the economy and stimulating production and high-priority investments, with a focus on meeting the private sector’s needs and strengthening the National Development Fund (id.). The National Development Fund is a sovereign wealth fund, established in 2011, that allocates part of the country’s revenue from oil, gas, gas condensate, and oil products for investment in Iran’s productivity and overseas investments and for the creation of economic incentives for development of the private economy. (National Development Fund of Iran, SWFI (last visited Oct. 28, 2015).)

A note to the Law states that the Foreign Minister has the duty to report every three months on the implementation process of the agreement to the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission; the Commission must report every six months on the JCPOA’s implementation at the Parliament’s open plenary session. (Iran’s Law Approving Nuclear Deal – Full Translation, supra.)

Upon the implementation of the new Law, various other laws will be repealed, including:

  • the law requiring the government to suspend its voluntary measures regarding nuclear power in the case of a nuclear referral or report to the Security Council (Act of 01.09.1384 [November 22, 2005]);
  • the law requiring the government to revise its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (Act of 06.10.1385 [December 27, 2006];
  • the law on the preservation of Iran’s peaceful nuclear achievements (Act of 29.4.1389 [July 20, 2010]); and
  • the law requiring the government to maintain Iran’s nuclear achievements and the nation’s “nuclear rights” (Act of 02.04.1394 [June 23, 2015].) (Law on the Proportional and Reciprocal Measures of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Implementing the JCPOA, Law No. 52832/614 (23/07/1394 [October 15, 2015]), Note 2, Majlis website (in Persian); see also David Albright & Andrea Stricker, Iran’s Nuclear Program, IRAN PRIMER (updated Sept. 2015), & Nuclear Power in Iran, WORLD NUCLEAR ASSOCIATION (updated Oct. 20, 2015).)

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Zeldin, Wendy. Iran: Law on Nuclear Agreement Approved by Guardian Council. 2015. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-11-05/iran-law-on-nuclear-agreement-approved-by-guardian-council/.

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Zeldin, W. (2015) Iran: Law on Nuclear Agreement Approved by Guardian Council. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-11-05/iran-law-on-nuclear-agreement-approved-by-guardian-council/.

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Zeldin, Wendy. Iran: Law on Nuclear Agreement Approved by Guardian Council. 2015. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-11-05/iran-law-on-nuclear-agreement-approved-by-guardian-council/>.