By John Gizzi
Following the announcement from Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday of the framework of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the leader of the largest Iranian exile faction opposing the Tehran regime warned that any agreement without the Ayatollah Khamenei's signature "does not block the path to a nuclear bomb."
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), told reporters that, thanks to "the crippling impact of the sanctions" against Iran and Operation Decisive Storm, the regional coalition battling Iran-backed forces trying to take over Yemen, the theocratic regime in Tehran was compelled "to reluctantly take one more step back after 16 months of talks, which had gone into overtime in Lausanne."
Rajavi was referring to the framework agreement under which Iran would reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent and significantly scale back its number of centrifuges. In return, the United States and the European Union would lift sanctions that have dealt devastating blows to Iran's economy.
"It is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives," President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House shortly after the framework was unveiled in Lausanne, "This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon."
The framework, as Paris-based exile leader Rajavi noted, "blatantly contradicts the foundations and guidelines the regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had announced personally two weeks ago."
"A statement of generalities lacking Khamenei's signature and official approval will never block the path to the regime obtaining nuclear weapons nor prevent its intrinsic deception," she said.
Although Chapter IX of the Iranian Constitution gives President Hassan Rouhani the duties of signing treaties and international agreements, Rouhani nonetheless reports to Khamenei, the nation's supreme leader.
The 74-year-old was elected to the all-powerful post in 1989, succeeding the first Supreme Leader in the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.
Under Article 110 of the Iranian constitution, the supreme leader is the final authority and spiritual leader, or grand ayatollah, of Iran. He has full control over foreign policy, the armed forces, and nuclear policy.
"Formally or not, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government all operate under his absolute sovereignty," Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji wrote of Khamenei in the September 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs. "Khamenei is Iran's head of state, commander-in-chief, and top ideologue."
In reminding the world that any nuclear deal emerging from Lausanne must have Khamenei's sign-off, Rajavi also warned that "continuing negotiations with religious fascism in the framework of appeasement will not make the region and the world secure from the threat of nuclear proliferation."
Recalling the Tehran regime's years of heavy investment in obtaining nuclear weapons, Rajavi declared that the only alternative to a nuclear-armed Iran "is a democratic and non-nuclear Iran."
The idea that merely by negotiating with the current regime in Iran the P5+1 help prop it up was underscored to Newsmax by Ali Safavi, the NCRI's Washington spokesman.
"Any kind of negotiation makes up for the deficit of political legitimacy and the popular support that this regime lacks," Safavi told Newsmax.
He recalled how in 2009, there was overwhelming evidence of popular opposition to the theocratic government in the form of massive demonstrations in the streets. After reform candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi was counted out in a presidential election many thought rigged and fraudulent, protesters took to the streets branding signs that read "Death to Khamenei" and "Death to Velayat-e Faqih [roughly translated as "absolute rule by the clergy" and the title of a 1970 book by Ayatollah Khomeini]."
The uprising was quelled, said Safavi, "in large part because Mousavi was not fundamentally interested in changing the regime. He has been languishing under house arrest since 2009."
Founded in 1981, NCRI represents political figures, academicians, and other Iranians who have fled their homeland, are dedicated to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and its replacement with a secular democracy.
The group's leaders are the lineal heirs to Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the colorful nationalist and elected prime minister of post-war Iran. His ouster in a U.S-backed coup in 1953 led to the return to power of the exiled Shah of Iran.
Although Mossadegh's National Front party was outlawed after the former prime minister's trial and confinement to his home, his followers regrouped in 1965 to form the People's Mojahedin Organization to wage demonstrations and armed struggle against the Shah.
Known by the acronym MEK, the same group fought Khomeini after he came to power in 1979 and much of its membership was driven to exile. MEK is now the largest component within the NCRI, whose international conclave in Paris last year drew more than 100,000 participants from throughout the world.