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Supreme National Security Council

Replacing the Supreme Defense Council in 1989, the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC, also sometimes referred to as the Supreme National Defense Council, an alternate name for the prior Supreme Defense Council) was an institution founded in the course of the revision of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The SNSC was established with an aim to watch over the Islamic Revolution and safeguard the IRI's national interests, as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

According to Article 177 of the Constitution, the responsibilities of the SNSC were as follows:

  • 1. To determine the national defense/security policies within the framework of general policies laid down by the Supreme Leader.
  • 2. To coordinate political, intelligence, social, cultural and economic activities in relation to general defense/security policies.
  • 3. To exploit material and non-material resources of the country for facing internal and external threats.

The SNSC had the lead on Iran's nuclear program. Commensurate with its responsibilities, the SNSC established sub-committees such as defense subcommittee and national security sub-committee. The sub-committees were headed by the President or one of the members of the SNSC appointed by the President.

Limits of the authorities and functions of the sub-committees were laid down by law, and their organizational structure were approved by the SNSC. Approvals of the SNSC were to be enforceable after ratification of the Supreme Leader.

The members of the SNSC consists of:

  • Heads of the three Powers (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary)
  • Chief of the Supreme Command Council of the Armed Forces (SCCAF)
  • The official in charge of the Plan an Budget Organization (PBO; now the Management and Planning Organisation or MPO)
  • Two representatives nominated by the Supreme Leader
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Interior, and Minister of Information (Intelligence)
  • A minister concerned with the subject, and the highest authorities of the Army and the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps (IRGC)

On 6 July 2005 Hassan Rohani was reported to have resigned his post as Secretary of Iran's SNSC. Rohani had served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in the Islamic state's talks with the European Union since October 2003. He had been sharply criticized by the newly elected President, hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Council spokesman Ali Aghamohammadi later said the report was false. "Rowhani will remain in his position until President Mohammad Khatami's term ends. After that it is up to Ahmadinejad, who has not announced any stance on Rowhani," Aghamohammadi said. "Some people are implying that Rowhani does not want to cooperate with Ahmadinejad's administration, but that is completely wrong."

In mid-October 2005, Hussein Entezami succeeded Ali Aqamohammadi as the SNSC's spokesman, and Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli was appointed as the council's secretary and deputy head. Entezami was the founder and managing director of the "Jam-i Jam" newspaper, which was linked with the state broadcasting agency (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB), and Rahmani-Fazli was the deputy head of that organization. Then SNSC secretary, Ali Larijani, headed IRIB until he ran in the June 2005 presidential election.

Other council officials were replaced as well. Seyyed Ali Monfared, who had served in the IRGC, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and the Foreign Ministry, replaced Hussein Musavian as a foreign policy adviser to Larijani. Moreover, the SNSC underwent structural changes after Ahmadinejad's August 2005 inauguration. It was suggested that this involvement could signal an increased involvement of the IRGC in Iran's nuclear activities, already controlling the countries strategic arsenal.

Ali Larijani replaced Hassan Rohani as Secretary of the SNSC, and served in that role, as well as that of Iran's primary nuclear negotiator, until he resigned in October 2007. Saeed Jalili replaced Larijani, and was cited as having strong ties to both Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad. Jalili was given the additional role of Representative of the Supreme Leader in the SNSC in July 2008.




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