Iran's parliament threw its support behind the nuclear agreement struck earlier this year in a key vote on Tuesday. It's a clear victory for the government of President Hassan Rouhani, which has championed the deal in the face of domestic criticism from conservative hardliners.
The vote cleared away one of the last hurdles for implementation of the deal, which mandates that Iran start rolling back its nuclear capabilities beginning October 18.
Though some Iranian lawmakers had strongly opposed the deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the motion to support passed parliament with flying colors. With 161 votes in favor and 59 against, the motion will now be submitted to a clerical body for final approval and passage into law.
"Members of parliament made a well-considered decision today showing they have a good understanding of the country's situation," government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said in a televised news conference after the vote.
The bill puts forward a slightly different spin of the nuclear agreement than what the US and its allies have so far emphasized. The Iranian law stipulates that inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, need approval from a top Iranian security body before visiting military sites. Western diplomats said last month that IAEA inspectors, who are tasked with verifying member states are not developing nuclear weapons, will have access to military sites where Iranian technicians are taking swipe samples.
The bill also says Iran should resume its nuclear activities, if international sanctions are not lifted as agreed.
Under Iran's deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France — plus Germany, the government in Tehran accepted strict limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from the sanctions that have crippled its economy.
The agreement opened the door to easing decades of mounting hostility between Iran and the West. Western powers suspect the program was aimed at developing the means to build an atom bomb, but Tehran says it seeks only peaceful atomic energy.
Tuesday's bill reiterated Iran's official opposition to developing nuclear weapon.
"According to the Supreme Leader's religious decree, no government in Iran has the right to produce or use nuclear weapons and the government must actively follow international disarmament policy," the bill read, referring to Iran's top authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The draft law also called on the government to continue developing its military power, suggesting Tehran will maintain its active role in Middle Eastern conflicts, where its interests have clashed with those of Western and Gulf Arab powers.