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EghtesadOnline: Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission on Tuesday approved Iran's accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, clearing the biggest hurdle in the way of one of Iran's action plans set by the Financial Action Task Force.

The powerful commission, however, laid six conditions for accepting the measures, including Iran's right to set its own definition of "terrorism". The commission had in the past opposed the bill, with some of its members staging a walkout this week to disrupt its passage. 

Mojtaba Zolnoor, a member of the commission, told Tasnim News Agency that the bill would be sent to the Majlis Presiding Board for a vote in Wednesday's plenary session.     

Ahead of the commission's vote on Tuesday, however, no unified voice could still be heard from MPs on the issue, which would largely determine Iran's status with FATF, according to Financial Tribune.

Representatives from the government and the Central Bank of Iran spent this week meeting members of the commission to lobby in favor of the measures included in the government bill to amend the existing Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism. 

After a meeting on Sunday with the commission members, Abbas Araqchi, deputy foreign minister and a former nuclear negotiator, hoped that lawmakers would make "the right choice" regarding the bill. 

In an interview with the parliamentary news website ICANA, Araqchi said the lawmakers' concerns about the bill are "legitimate" and that there are pros and cons in accepting the FATF action plans. 

"However, we believe that by receiving 'conditional rights', the negative points will be covered and negotiations can be made with FATF members along the way," Araqchi said, adding that whatever the outcome of the Majlis vote, the government would respect it. 

Alaeddin Broujerdi, the influential chairman of the commission, echoed the same thoughts by saying that 63 countries, which are members to the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, have been granted conditional rights. 

Earlier this month, the lawmakers passed the general outlines of the amendment bill to the current CFT and AML laws that were first passed in 2016 and 2008 respectively. The bills were formally submitted to the parliament by President Hassan Rouhani on Nov. 20. 

 MPs, however, decided to discuss the details of CFT bill and address the more controversial points in upcoming sessions. 

A week later, lawmakers agreed with the establishment of Financial Intelligence Center at the Economy Ministry to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. 

FATF decided for a third time to suspend its countermeasures against Iran in February. 

In its statement of June 2016, FATF welcomed Iran’s high-level political commitment to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies and its decision to seek technical assistance for the implementation of its action plans. 

"As Iran provided the political commitment and took relevant steps, FATF decided in November 2017 to continue the suspension of counter-measures," the body added. 

But the last time around, the body specifically identified what it wants from Iran to address.

Among other things, it requires Iran to "adequately criminalize terrorist financing, including by removing the exemption for designated groups attempting to end foreign occupation, colonialism and racism".

Divergent Views

Critics argue that this condition is out of step with Article 154 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that Iran "will not meddle in other nations' affairs, but supports the rightful struggle of the oppressed against arrogant forces anywhere in the world". 

However, proponents of the measures say what FATF really wants is for Iran to identify what it deems as terrorist groups and organizations based on its own standards and those of the United Nations.  

The bill has elicited strong responses from conservative lawmakers, some of which walked out of a voting session this week in order to kill the passage in the bill. 

Zolnoori, a lawmaker who had participated in the walkout, had earlier described the bill to be in line with European efforts to jointly pressure Iran over its regional activities. 

However, Mostafa Kavakebian, a moderate MP, said that by joining the CFT convention, the US would in fact become "worried".

Kavakebian told ICANA that the world only recognizes  Al-Qaeda, Al-Nasr, Taliban and the self-styled Islamic State as terrorists, adding that some lawmakers' concerns that the Lebanese group Hezbollah would also be branded as a terrorist group was unfounded since Iran's Supreme National Security Council would ultimately interpret the designation of terrorism. 

 

Iran parliament Financial Action Task Force Iran CFT Measure International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of