Iran's parliament on Sunday approved an outline of a bill that would allow the government to implement a historic nuclear deal reached with world powers, the official IRNA news agency said. The bill allows the government to withdraw from implementing the agreement if world powers do not lift sanctions, IRNA said. Final approval of the bill is expected later this week. Western nations have long suspected Iran of secretly pursuing nuclear arms, allegations denied by Tehran, which says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. "The government should stop its voluntary cooperation in implementation of the deal if the other side fails to remain committed to lifting sanctions," the bill says. It says the response should be the same if new sanctions are imposed or previous ones restored.
IRNA said 139 lawmakers out of 253 present voted for the bill. The session was unusually tense, with hardliners repeatedly trying to prevent a vote on the deal. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who makes all final decisions on key policies, has said it is up to parliament to approve or reject the deal. Lawmaker Ruhollah Hosseinian, an opponent of the deal, said parliament needs to discuss it in detail. Until now, it has only been reviewed by a special parliamentary committee. "Every (international) agreement must be approved and passed by the parliament. Otherwise, it won't be legal," Hosseinian said. Hardliners hope to stall approval of the deal in order to weaken President Hasan Rouhani's moderate administration ahead of February's parliamentary elections. (Read more Iran nuclear weapons program stories.)