The speaker of the Iranian parliament said yesterday that the government, not his assembly, must decide whether the United States has fulfilled Iranian conditions for release of the American hostages.
The assertion by Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, if borne out by developments in Iran's tumultuous political environment, would remove the danger of the fractious parliament, or Majlis, causing another long delay by debating U.S. responses to the conditions it set two weeks ago. l
The U.S. responses which have been kept secret, were delivered via Algeria last Wednesday but reportedly fall short of what the Majlis demanded because they cite constitutional restrictions on President Carter's authority. Observers had feared that if the Majlis took then up, it could become embroiled in lengthy debate between clerical hard-liners, who exercise decisive influence in the assembly, and relative moderates, who seek swift resolution of the issue to enable Iran to focus on its war with Iraq and internal problems.
"The Islamic Majlis has already decided this issue," Rafsanjani said, according to the official Iranian news agency, Pars. "The government has been instructed to act accordingly."
Iran's conditions, he said, were final and the United States should "submit" to them. "Altogether the issue has been studied most seriously, and we are at the stage when Iran has already announced its final position," Pars quoted the speaker as saying.
The United States "should accept the fact that it can no longer use the hostages issue as a pretext for continuing its vile imperialist plan. it should submit to the conditions," he added.
Rafsanjani, who spoke on his departure for a tour of several Middle Eastern and North African nations, flew first to Algeria. News agencies said he told correspondents there, however, that he had come only to discuss the Iranian-Iraq war, despite Algeria's role as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington on the hostages.
Before emplaning in the Iranian capital, Rafsanjani said the work of a government committee examining the U.S. responses has not yet reached its final stages, indicating that a decision is unlikely for the next few days, Reuter reported.
The next two days are public holidays in Iran, marking a Shiite Moslem observance, and Friday is the regular Moslem holiday. but despite the holidays, the committee met yesterday and scheduled another session for today, according to sources in Tehran and Washington.
At the same time, the group, headed by Executive Affairs Minister Behzad Nabavi, reflects competing political currents similar to those in parliament and appears unable to come to swift agreement because of them, the sources said.
Nabavi himself, an associate of Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Rajai, is considered firmly anit-American. The prime minister also has adopted a tough line on relations with the United States. The committee so far has been split between the conservative clergymen whose views dominate the government and more moderate elements associated with President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr.
In an echo from that dispute, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini spoke out for the second day running to urge an end to quarreling between the moderates and the clergy-led conservatives.
"It is not true that I agree with anyone who is a clergyman," Khomeini said in a speech broadcast by Tehran radio and monitored by The Associated Press. "I hate a lot of them and don't believe in many of them."
The comments from Khomeini, Iran's paramount religious and revolutionary leader, seemed to present an attempt to strike a balance after his earlier criticism of merchants from the holy city of Qom who had demonstrated support of former foreign minister Sadegh Gotbzadeh when hard-line clergymen had him imprisoned last week.
The Shiite patriarch, who also broadcast a second speech to graduating police cadets, said his doctors have asked him to cut down on his oratory, without further elaboration. Khomeini, 80, was hospitalized for heart trouble earlier this year.