EghtesadOnline: Members of Iran's Parliament during Sunday's open session voted to postpone for two months the review process of the government-proposed bill aimed at joining the United Nation's International Convention for Combating the Financing of Terrorism.
According to ICANA, the official news outlet of the parliament, MPs approved a petition by 50 votes, following 138 ayes and 103 nays, to temporarily defer the bill.
The bill for joining the treaty adopted by UN General Assembly in 1999 in New York was approved by the Iranian Cabinet on Oct. 29 and officially submitted to the parliament by President Hassan Rouhani on Nov. 13.
Joining the convention is one of the four measures expected to help Iran vis-à-vis the Financial Action Task Force, the global standard-setting body for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating financing of terrorism (CFT) measures, Financial Tribune reported.
Three other measures pertain to amendments for Iran's existing AML/CFT bills and another bill aimed at joining the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
The significance of the postponement is that when FATF for the third time renewed the suspension of active countermeasures against Iran in February, it called on the country to address deficiencies in its Action Plan by the time Paris-based body next convenes on June 24.
One of the reasons given for the deferral was the uncertainty around the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran's nuclear deal with world powers that is currently still on life support following the US withdrawal on May 8 and pending negotiations with other parties.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced on Sunday that "the head of Majlis Security Commission has announced that there are considerations concerning the aforesaid bill and these considerations must be taken into account and presented to the parliament again in the set period".
A group of representatives protested the fact that the government did not have a say in the postponement and will most likely be against it since it has been defending all four measures and trying hard to pass them before the FATF deadline. However, Larijani simply said "the government has no problem with this issue".
This is while before the deferral was approved, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi addressed the lawmakers in support of the CFT convention.
He tried to reassure lawmakers that the top echelons of Iran's security forces, including the Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, have studied the measures with Supreme National Security Council and attested that the country will face no security threats by joining the convention.
Since the issue of the potential blacklisting of Hezbollah has been central to the parliamentary debate on CFT, Araqchi said, "We must not deprive ourselves of the benefits of FATF for fear of Hezbollah being introduced as a terrorist group because FATF has not listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group."
Mostafa Kavakebian, Tehran's representative in the parliament, was another proponent of the bill, and said it must be passed for the good of average Iranians. He said it would allow Iran to better follow up on crimes committed by the People's Mujahedin of Iran, the political-militant organization whose advocates live in exile and is considered a terrorist organization by Iran.
UN Organized Crime Convention Tweaks Approved
On the same day of the CFT deferral vote, lawmakers finally approved the bill aimed at joining the UN organized crime bill that was adopted by UNGA in 2000 and came into force on Sept. 29, 2003.
The organized crime bill was originally approved by an overwhelming majority of parliamentarians on Jan. 24 with a few caveats. However, the Guardians Council, Iran's highest constitutional watchdog, had apparently taken issue with minor details and the vote on Sunday was to take into account those considerations.
According to ICANA, the bill approved by 136 lawmakers, with 89 against, contained "phrasal and translational corrections" to appease the Guardians Council.