Sanctions pressure brought Ahmadinejad’s ministers to tears

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According to an Iranian member of parliament, the pressure of not being able to sell Iranian oil due to economic sanctions brought former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ministers to tears.

Mohammad Nabavian, a conservative parliament member representing Tehran, said of the former president’s difficulties in selling Iranian oil, “Toward the end of Ahmadinejad’s administration, some of the ministers in closed meetings would shed tears and say to members of parliament, ‘You know our situation; why do you speak like this in open sessions?’”

In explaining the difficulty of selling oil, Nabavian said that former Oil Minster Rostam Ghassemi had told him that because of the sanctions, foreign ships could not carry Iran’s oil and Iran itself had only one ship. Therefore, one shipment of oil to South Korea would take two months to deliver and return.

This is the first statement from an Iranian official that suggests Ahmadinejad’s administration understood the severity of the sanctions. Ahmadinejad himself was flippant in his public statements about the effects of international sanctions on Iran’s economy. He called them “torn pieces of paper” and taunted Western officials to pass more sanctions to the point that they “become tired.”

Nabavian, who is politically aligned with hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, spent part of his speech to university students discussing and criticizing the Geneva nuclear deal between Iran and the United Nations Security Council.

He said that the deal has “damaged” Iran’s independence and believes that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei feels the same way, given that in his latest speech he emphasized the importance of Iran’s independence. As evidence for his theory, Nabavian claims that American officials suddenly began making controversial statements against Iran immediately after the deal was signed.

Nabavian also claimed that he attended meetings between chief nuclear negotiator and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and parliament’s National Security Commission about the process of the nuclear negotiations.

According to Nabavian, during the final negotiations before the deal was announced in November, there were three drafts. The first, the “European draft,” was presented to Zarif by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. However, Zarif objected to this version. Then a second draft was created with United States Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, and this version won “90% percent agreement.” At that point, Secretary of State John Kerry joined the negotiations in Geneva. However, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius objected to three issues from the second draft and a third was created and finally signed.

Nabavian said that Zarif would not divulge the topics of “90% agreement” or the “three issues” to which Fabius objected, and said that even if parliament impeaches him, he will “not say one word.” That parts of the nuclear deal and its implementation have been confidential has been an extremely sore point for its Iranian critics.

Nabavian also drew parallels between three separate times that Iran has retreated and said that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Hassan Rouhani, who is considered close to Rafsanjani politically, had a role. These included UN Security Council Resolution 598, which ended the Iran-Iraq war; the 2003 nuclear suspension and the Geneva deal.