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 Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: The Supreme Leader urged commanders to maintain military readiness to defend against hostile acts on Iran, while IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami reiterated that Iran’s defense capabilities are non-negotiable and that it will not grant international inspectors access to its military sites.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his deep mistrust of the U.S. during a speech commemorating Artesh Day on April 19. The Supreme Leader censured the West for creating the “myth” of nuclear weapons in an effort to portray Iran as a threat and attributed regional crises to America’s “unrestrained” interventions. Khamenei stated “The other side insolently threatens to take military action against us. They act so shamelessly… then they say the Islamic Republic should be denied defensive capabilities. Are these statements they make not foolish?” Khamenei urged his military commanders to maintain operational readiness and pointed to U.S. hostility, stressing: “Even if they did not pose their threats in vivid terms, Iran would have precautionary measures and make the necessary preparations” to deter an attack or invasion. Khamenei’s speech did not indicate a shift in support of the nuclear negotiations; however, it reinforced domestic skepticism from hardliners about a final deal.
IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami said that the regime always operates under the assumption that the U.S. “military option is on the table.” The IRGC Deputy Commander dismissed any talks about potential inspections of Iran’s military facilities and said, “Not only are we not going to give foreigners permission to visit Iranian military facilities, we’re also not even giving permission to think about the issue.”” Salami added: “Privacy of military bases should be maintained. [Bringing in] an external inspector to a military base means occupying territory, because all of our defense…secrets are here. This means national humiliation–even dialogue on this topic [means national humiliation].” The regime’s insistence that military sites are off limits to inspectors is a matter of grave concern for the IAEA, which has not been able to address the military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Supreme Leader attributes regional unrest to U.S. foreign policy. During a speech commemorating Artesh Day on April 19, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Artesh commanders and staff for serving the Islamic Revolution and the nation. The Supreme Leader stated that the Artesh conducts itself with honor and dignity, as opposed to certain armies who commit crimes that are “truly shameful.” Khamenei added that the powerful nations are quick to dismiss international law and human rights when it serves their interests, specifically accusing the U.S. of committing many war crimes. Khamenei stated:
- “[Iran] was under brutal attack by Saddam’s indiscriminate missiles… missiles that were supplied by European countries and America… Aerial photographs [U.S. intelligence on Iran given to Saddam], were placed in the enemy’s hands; missiles were coming into our cities and killing defenseless people…”
- “The armed forces of many countries—as far as we know, almost all countries—are not bound by [international law]. You can see this example today in Yemen, recently in Palestine, in Gaza, in Lebanon, and elsewhere, that these considerations [indiscriminate bombing of civilian populated areas] are not taken.”
- “If we say that we will not use nuclear weapons, it is because of our commitment, Islamic piety and devotion to Islamic laws. This is one of the paramount features of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic.”
- “Iran never violated the war laws, but emerged victorious. Iran never used non-conventional weapons or methods.”
- “Today, our enemies accuse Iran of meddling here and there [referring to Iraq, Syria, and Yemen], which is untrue; there has been no such thing. We do not interfere anywhere.”
- “We will defend ourselves if we are facing an invasion.”
- “We hate those who attack defenseless people, civilians, kill women and children, and destroy their homes.”
- On Iranian resilience: “Fortunately, our country’s advances in science and technology are exceptional and eminent in the world.”
- “The extent we have been able to advance the country’s equipment and facilities – in this period and point in time, with these pressures, sanctions, and lack of resources – is extraordinary. This progress must continue.”
- On Iran’s defense capabilities: “Today, propaganda tools are used against the Islamic Republic [on] issue of missiles, UAVs, military facilities, and such things that have been indigenously developed by our talented youth, because they [West] does not want [Iran] to have these [capabilities].”
- “The other side insolently threatens to take military action against us. They act so shamelessly. They were silent for some time, and then a few days ago one of them opened their mouth and talked about options on the table and the military option.”
- “They say these things [threaten Iran], then they say the Islamic Republic should be denied defensive capabilities. Are these statements they make not foolish?”
- “Even if they did not pose their threats in vivid terms, Iran would have to take precautionary measures and make t
- “Iran is prepared to defend itself; the whole nation would come out as one tight fist to resist the aggressors.”
- On regional issues: “The Islamic Republic is not a threat to any country; we have never posed a threat to any of our neighbors…”
- “Even when some of our neighbors have acted in an unfriendly manner, we have shown restraint.”
- “Now they, the Americans and their European followers fabricated a myth about a nuclear bomb, to pretend that Iran is a threat.”
- “No, the source of threat is America. Today the biggest threat in the world is the American regime which commits unrestrained, destabilizing… interventions wherever it deems necessary.”
- “The Islamic Republic does not make the world unsafe; it does not make the region insecure…”
- “The unchained dog of America, the Zionist regime [of Israel], makes the region insecure.”
- “Contrary to the bullying powers, Iran considers security as the biggest divine blessing and defends its and others' security.”
On Yemen: “Today deplorable acts taking place in Yemen and America support oppression, the West supports tyrants; regional insecurity is because of [them].” (Khamenei.ir)
Araghchi: No nuclear agreement yet. International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi informed a group of students and critics of the Lausanne framework agreement that, “We still have no agreement; we will have a one-step agreement, which if achieved will be set for the end of June or by July 1, or maybe earlier. What has been achieved…is only a set of solutions.” Araghchi pointed to the fact that members of the U.S. Congress have disapproved of the framework and said this shows the agreement was not desirable for the U.S. In response to criticism of the framework, Araghchi said many of the drawbacks resulted in a lack of information, in particular in regards to the removal of sanctions. Araghchi emphasized that Iran didn’t come to the negotiating table as a result of sanctions, rather, it sought to have their rights under the NPT respected, not recognized. (Mashregh News)
Firouzabadi praises Foreign Ministry’s efforts in the nuclear negotiations. In response to a question regarding the nuclear negotiations, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated, “Our country’s foreign minister and his colleagues are trying to stop a war, and the interests of our country have been satisfied.” Regarding Russia’s decision to lift its ban on the delivery of S-300 missile defense systems, the Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief stated, “Putin is a reasonable and worldly man, and knows that the Americans and the West also need the nuclear negotiations; so, why should he not deliver the [S-300] system, for which we have closed the contract, to a friendly country. Firouzabadi added, “Everyone knows that the S-300 is a defensive system, and is not aggressive.” On ISIS, Firouzabadi stated, “They think the whole world, including Iran, are infidels, and according to themselves, they want to fight with the infidels; therefore, soon a wave of terrorism will target Europe, America, and all of humanity…” (Sepah News)
Kowsari: final nuclear agreement must be approved by Parliament. Mohammad Esmail Kowsari accused the U.S. Senate and Congress of attempting to sabotage the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member stated: “If sanctions are not lifted, the nuclear agreement will be irrelevant for us, because our main issue in the nuclear talks is the removal of all sanctions.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Shamkhani meets Australian Foreign Minister. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Bishop praised Iran’s constructive role in fighting terrorism in the region and expressed her satisfaction with the progress of the nuclear negotiations.
- On Yemen: Shamkhani condemned the “illegal” invasion of Yemen, called for the implementation of the four-point plan to resolve the issue and provide humanitarian assistance, and supported the formation of an inclusive government through internal dialogue.
- Shamkhani reiterated Iran’s commitment to fighting terrorism and claimed that as a result of the “dual policy of some countries,” the “price” of fighting terrorists has fallen on Iran. He added that a lack of political participation has pushed the Arab youth into Sunnis extremism.
- On sanctions: “Cancellation of all cruel and illegal sanctions after the agreement is essential and the remaining sanctions regarding Iran’s performance and commitment to transparency are not justified.”
- On the Cotton letter: “[Regarding the] recent American sanctions, it is a clear symbol of the opposition of that country to the development of industry and technology of Iran… and distance from the logic of negotiations.”
On Iranian immigrants in Australia: “The concerns of our citizens everywhere are important to us, and if someone has not committed a crime or there is no private complaint, he’ll be welcomed with open arms.” (IRNA)
- Abdollahian: Saudi military intervention in Yemen was a strategic mistake. Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that “Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen was a strategic mistake.” National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission (NSFP), Spokesman Hossein Naghavi Hosseini noted that the commission members condemned the actions of the “illegal, un-Islamic, and inhuman Saudi Arabia and the aerial and border blockade of a sovereign state.” Hosseini also called for the immediate pharmaceutical and food aid suggested by the Iranian Red Crescent, and praised Pakistan’s decision not to support Saudi Arabia in the Yemen offensive. Hosseini also discussed NSFP Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi’s report outlining the strategic importance of Russia to Iran, particularly concerning the case of Yemen. (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
Salami discusses the Artesh and IRGC missions. Observing Artesh Day on April 19, IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami discussed the mission and history of the Artesh, visits to Iranian military sites, and Yemen:
- On the history of the Artesh: “In protecting the Artesh from currents of counter-revolutionary thoughts that followed the dissolution of the Artesh [under the last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi], The Imam [Supreme Leader Khomeini] showed how profound his thoughts were.”
- “Of course, the… Imam carried out…miracles… in all areas of the [Islamic] Revolution, but neutralization of the conspiracy and changing of the country’s defense system into a defensive system which carries the ideals of the Revolution, was a very careful and strategic move.”
- On the missions of the Artesh and the IRGC: “In spite of the similarities, the missions are different from one another in some ways. For example, the IRGC Air Force focuses on the development of ballistic and cruise missiles as well as drones, while the Artesh Air Force focuses on manned fighters. Together, these two organizations are a powerful defensive deterrent.” Salami also stated: “No interference exists between the missions of the IRGC and the Artesh, and if need be, they will totally support one another.”
- On international inspections of military sites: “Not only are we not going to give foreigners permission to visit Iranian military facilities, we’re also not even giving permission to think about the issue.”
- “Privacy of military bases should be maintained. [Bringing in] an external inspector to a military base means occupying territory, because all of our defense…secrets are here. This means national humiliation–even dialogue on this topic [means national humiliation].” Salami also stated, “Anyone who mentions these words [visits to Iran’s military sites], will be answered with ‘hot lead’.”
- “Their [America’s] saying ‘the military option is on the table’ is not a concern for us. Our assumptions have been formed for an all-out war with America; our defensive doctrine, structure, and capacities are developed, and we are not worrying about it.”
- On Yemen: “If Saudi Arabia gains a regional success, it will turn to other neighbors. Neighbors’ participation in the war on Yemen is suicide.” He also stated, “We support Yemen politically, and if the way is open, we will provide humanitarian assistance and will not spare any help. We think more of the unity of the Islamic world than they [the Saudis] do.” Salami also said, “Al Saud has been stuck at a dead end, and cannot and will not continue this situation… Ansar Allah now dominates 90% of Yemen.” (Sepah News)
Fadavi discusses capabilities of the IRGC Navy. IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi stated, “Based on security and defensive strategies, we have built the capabilities necessary for the disposal of various threats in the maritime domain and geopolitical area of the Persian Gulf and its surrounding radius.” The IRGC Navy Commander also said, “We have already considered many possibly scenarios on different scales of defensive and combat readiness exercises; we examine our patterns of preparation [including]… defensive attacks against large-scale threats, and potential threats from large cruisers and battleships, as well as different levels of opposition in coast to sea, sea to beach, air to sea, surface to air…; the ninth Payambar-e Azam [Great Prophet] exercises were a manifestation of the aggregate combat and defensive exercises.” (Sepah News)
Artesh Navy Commander: Iran will continue to secure Aden. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated: “This presence [of the Iranian Navy] continues in free waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to fight against piracy according to the plan which was drawn at the request of the International Maritime Organization; no one can warn the Iranian warships [to pull back] and this has not happened yet… There is no need for our flotilla of warships to dock in Yemen, but we are present in the Gulf of Aden powerfully and at present, our 34th Fleet has been sent to the region." (Defa Press)
- Basij member killed in Syria. Memorial services for Mohsen Kamali, who was killed on April 17, will take place on April 21 in Alborz Province. Kamali was a member of the Basij unit from Rajai Shahr. (Mashregh News)
- Rahmani Fazli to present on “dirty money” in Parliament. Parliament’s Board of Directors Spokesman Spokesman Behrouz Nemati said that during today’s Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that Mr. Rahmani Fazli would report on ‘dirty money’ in politics. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Australian Foreign Minister makes first trip to Iran after almost a decade. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said she was pleased with the progress achieved between the P5+1 and Iran in the nuclear negotiations; she said that the P5+1 countries must be balanced and the outcome should be profitable for both sides. Zarif and Bishop also discussed increased bilateral relations and regional developments, especially ISIS. The two discussed both Iran and Australia’s role in Iraq. Bishop is set to meet with President Rouhani as well on her visit. (IRNA)
Tehran and Kabul sign two memoranda of understanding (MOUs). President Hassan Rouhani held a joint press conference with visiting Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and stated that the expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Kabul in various fields, including economic, energy, mining and industry, trade, and investment in the economy and railways, is essential to the interests of both countries. The two countries also emphasized the need for further cooperation in the fight against violence and terrorism, in particular along border areas. In regards to ISISI, Ghani said, “[ISIS]…cannot be fought without regional cooperation.” The two presidents witnessed the signing of two MOUs to improve cooperation between the countries’ foreign ministries and Iran’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education. (President.ir)
Rouhani meets newly-appointed ambassadors from Thailand, Greece, Senegal, and Algeria. President Hassan Rouhani, in his meeting with newly appointed Greek Ambassador George Aifantis, underlined Greece’s capacities in various areas, and emphasized joint economic cooperation. Aifantis expressed Athens’ willingness to be Tehran’s friend and strategic partner and denounced the use of sanctions. During his meeting with Thailand’s new ambassador Rasmee Chittham, Rouhani announced Tehran’s readiness to expand economic ties with Thailand, and to increase cooperation with Thai companies. He added that combating violence requires the cooperation of all countries and that Iran and Thailand should cooperate in this area. In his meeting with Senegal’s new ambassador Babacar Ba, Rouhani welcomed the development of economic and cultural interactions. Rouhani pointed to Israel as the main threat to the region in his meeting with Algeria’s new ambassador, Ahriz Abdelmoun’aam. He added that all countries should put pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Rouhani emphasized that all countries should enjoy peaceful nuclear energy under the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and that the region should be free of weapons of mass destruction. (Tabnak)
Defense Minister Dehghan meets with Azeri President in Baku. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan met with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on April 20. The Defense Minister underscored Iran’s interest in strengthening its relations with Azerbaijan. Dehghan stated: “The two countries enjoy common geopolitics and their common interests and threats have increased; the necessity for the expansion of multilateral cooperation more than ever.” (Defa Press)
- Larijani discusses Yemen with Iraqi Parliament Speaker. Parliament speaker Larijani held a telephone conversation with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al Jabouri about the current crisis in Yemen. Jabori praised Iran’s efforts - and discussed Iraq’s readiness to attend a meeting of heads of Parliaments of Islamic countries to resolve the issue. Larijani stressed the need for consultation of all Islamic countries to end the crisis and that the “crisis in Yemen and the killing of innocent people… damaged all Muslim countries.” (Mehr News)