Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has sensationally admitted that the Foreign Ministry in Tehran has no power to shape strategic policies. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has also scolded Zarif for questioning Tehran’s regional policies, which are designed and implemented by the Revolutionary Guards. This deep schism inside the Islamic Republic raises some important questions at a time when the US is engaged in direct talks with the Iranians in Vienna.
What is the balance of power between elected and unelected centers of powers in Tehran? How certain can the United States be about the ability of the Iranian state to collectively adhere to any nuclear agreement reached in Vienna? Where does this political reality in Tehran mean for Washington’s Iran policy that continues to impose sanctions on key entities in Iran, including the Revolutionary Guards?
Senior analyst, Congressional Research Service
Director, Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council
Editor, Iran International TV
Alex Vatanka, moderator
Director, Iran Program, MEI
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