Iran News Round Up
The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: Iran unveiled alleged components of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system during its Artesh Day parade.
Iran commemorated Artesh Day on April 17 with a massive military parade in Tehran. Several vehicles that appear to be components of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system were featured in the parade, including a deployable radar and a command vehicle that seemed to be mounted on commercial rather than military chassis. The actual S-300 missiles were not observed during the parade. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati praised the delivery of the S-300 system to Iran as underscoring the depth of Iranian-Russian cooperation. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced last week that “the first phase” of the S-300 contract with Russia had been “implemented,” although it remains unclear which components have actually been delivered.
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh condemned any oil production freeze as tantamount to imposing “sanctions” on Iran in response to talks in Doha, Qatar, to negotiate a curb on oil production. Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted that Tehran will ramp up its oil production until it reaches its pre-sanction production levels. On April 17, OPEC and non-OPEC members failed to reach an agreement on freezing oil production after Saudi Arabia demanded Iran join the talks, which it refused to do.
The Foreign Ministry released its quarterly report to Parliament on the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The report recognizes that U.S. primary sanctions have prevented Iran from benefiting “quickly” from sanctions relief.
Iranian news outlets reported the deaths of an additional two Iranians in Syria. One was allegedly a commander in the Afghan Shia Fatimiyoun Brigade.
- Katherine Zimmerman argues that Iranian activities in Yemen are actually part of a struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional influence and discusses U.S. policy options in “Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian support to Yemen’s al Houthis.”
- Frederick W. Kagan discusses current and requested Iranian and Russian assets in the Middle East in “Iran’s Plans to Transform the Middle East Military Balance.”
- Frederick W. Kagan and Vice Admiral John Miller (USN, Ret.) examine how Iran’s military shopping list could force the West to alter how it operates in the Persian Gulf in “Iran is muscling up. We should push back.”
- Alice Naghshineh and Ken Hawrey have published a translation of an article from Iranian newspaper Shargh that provides insights into the Artesh’s evolving rhetoric towards the Syrian conflict and the organization of the Artesh 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade, elements of which have deployed to the conflict. Read the translation here.
Military and Security
Iran parades alleged S-300 components. Iran held a large military parade in Tehran to celebrate Artesh Day on April 17, which included several vehicles allegedly belonging to an S-300 surface-to-air missile system. The parade also featured other surface-to-air missile systems, the Qader anti-ship cruise missile, midget submarines, the newly developed Tiam tank, which appears to be a hybrid of U.S. and Chinese tank designs, and an overflight of F-4, F-5, F-7, F-14, and MIG-29 airplanes. (Mehr News Agency)
- Rouhani: “People who say we do not need hard power are naive.” President Hassan Rouhani praised the role of the Artesh during his speech marking Artesh Day. Rouhani stressed that Iran needs both “hard power” and “soft power,” stating, “People who say that we do not need hard power are naive, while the people who say that we do not need soft power are short-sighted.” Rouhani also referred to his earlier speech at the April 14 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit, declaring to regional states that “if your capitals are threatened by Zionists and terrorists, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond positively if you request help.“ (President.ir)
- Pourdastan: “Our advisory mission continues with strength.” Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan reiterated his previous comments that the Artesh has not sent a “special unit” to Syria but rather “individuals as advisors.” Pourdastan also noted that Iran’s mission in Syria “continues with strength” with cooperation from Russia. Pourdastan stated that Tehran “has a ‘red-line’ of 40 kilometers on all our borders,” including Pakistan. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Foreign Ministry submits report on JCPOA implementation to Parliament. The Foreign Ministry presented a report evaluating the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission on April 17. The Foreign Ministry is required to submit such a report every three months.
- The report states that “a completely sensible and meaningful shift in Iran’s benefit has occurred in the international arena” as a result of the JCPOA’s implementation and praises the “numerous trips by senior political, economic, corporate, and personal delegations” to Iran as presenting “serious opportunities.” The report adds that since the nuclear agreement’s implementation, “we have seen a reduction in tensions and an increase in European and Asian countries’ interest in beginning nuclear cooperation. This was impossible for our country before the nuclear agreement.”
- The report identifies “challenges and obstacles moving forward” in implementing the nuclear agreement. It states that the “greatest problem” facing the nuclear agreement is “confidence-building” in Iran for banks, companies, and economic institutions.
- It recognizes that Iran has not benefited “quickly” from sanctions relief. The report also acknowledges “the necessity of complying with different arrangements,” including those of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, and states that Iran is taking “positive action” to address problems within its banking system, including money laundering.
- The report criticizes the U.S.’s incomplete implementation of the nuclear agreement, including the “intimidation” of banks to impede their cooperation with Iran, as a major challenge as well. (Tasnim News Agency)
Hardliners respond to Foreign Ministry’s JCPOA implementation report.
- NSFP Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi stated that Iran “will make America regret” a decision not to implement its commitments under the JCPOA. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Principlist parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Hamid Resaei claimed that the report was “not in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Leader” and should be returned to the Foreign Ministry. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of conservative newspaper Kayhan, criticized the Foreign Ministry for not paying sufficient attention to the drafting of the nuclear deal and for allowing the U.S. to “take advantage” of the agreement. (Fars News Agency)
Velayati: S-300 delivery underscores depth of Russia-Iran cooperation. Ali Akbar Velayati stated, “The delivery of this [S-300 surface-to-air missile] system indicates that cooperation between Iran and Russia is serious” during a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on April 17. The Supreme Leader’s senior foreign policy advisor continued, “We predict a bright future for Iran-Russia relations.” Velayati stated that the possibility of a “transit line from the port of Chabahar to the Republic of Azerbaijan, St. Petersburg, and northern Russia” has also been considered. (Tasnim News Agency)
Larijani highlights banking transaction concerns during meeting with Mogherini. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed economic conditions in Iran in the post-JCPOA period during a meeting with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in Tehran on April 16. Larijani stated, “The time has come when we should start to see the impact of the nuclear agreement on our economic relations. One of Iranian businessmen’s major concerns is banking transactions; this issue must be resolved as soon as possible.” (Mehr News Agency) (E)
Zarif: Americans are getting in the way of Iranian trading with European banks. Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed America’s obstruction of and Iran’s expectations for the Islamic Republic’s growth in the post-JCPOA period.
- The foreign minister highlighted the fact that European and Iranian businessmen continue to encounter problems with economic and banking-related exchanges in the post-JCPOA period, and that European parties are still concerned “about the consequences of economic cooperation with Iran.” He stated, “We ask only one thing of America: don’t interfere in these instances… Iran has carried out its responsibilities in the anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing arenas. We did not have more than 30 months of one of the most intensive negotiations to now have an empty document.”
- Zarif stated, “It is clear that the Iranian people want to see results.”
- He also denied accusations from human rights organizations that Iran has forced Afghan refugees to fight in Syria, claiming that Iran has not forced anyone to do so. (Fars News Agency)
Zanganeh criticizes Doha oil talks. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh criticized the recent Doha oil talks, stating that participating countries are trying to inflict sanctions on Iran once again through a freeze in oil production. Zanganeh stated the oil-producing countries at the Doha conference “want to accuse Iran of creating instability in the oil market while Iran had no role in the oil market’s instability.” Iran did not send a representative to the talks. (Mehr News Agency)
Central Bank chief: U.S. needs to tell European banks it is acceptable to trade with Iran. Valiollah Seif discussed the ongoing economic challenges facing Iran in the post-JCPOA period during an interview with Bloomberg Television on April 14. The Central Bank chief stated that Iran has gotten “almost nothing” from the nuclear deal, and that Iran “has been unable to tap about $100 billion held abroad.” He “stated that while it possible [for Iran] to access Iranian money held abroad, European banks are concerned about violating American government regulations.” Seif stressed, “One of the needs we definitely have goes back to converting currencies to pay our suppliers. It requires having access to the U.S. financial system.” Seif indicated that Iran wants the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) “to issue guidelines encouraging European banks to be more receptive to Iran.” (Bloomberg News) (E) (Alef)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Fatimiyoun commander killed in Syria. Ali Biat was a member of the Basij Organization based in Tehran city and was “one of the Iranian commanders of the Fatimiyoun Brigade.” (ABNA)
- Retired IRGC member killed in Syria. Alireza Safarpour was a retired IRGC member from Gonbad-e Qabus, Golestan province. He was reportedly part of the 60th Armored Unit based in Gonbad-e Qabus. (ABNA)