Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has suggested that the Islamic Republic could hold a public referendum on its nuclear program, amidst rising tensions with US.
The statement followed Mr Rouhani’s public rebuke by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his handling of the country’s nuclear deal.
While many in Iran’s leadership have insisted they do not want a war with the US, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public reprimand of the president reflects his more hawkish position. Ayatollah Khamenei has long maintained the view that Iranian negotiators surrendered too much in the deal.
A referendum could help Rouhani settle internal dispute without losing face and provide political cover for whichever path voters backed. The Iranian public has been broadly supportive of the nuclear deal and its attendant possibilities for economic growth. The country’s middle classes in particular have been exhausted by years of sanctions and currency depreciation. A referendum is also seen as a method paving way back to enrichment.