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: The U.S. will buy heavy water from Iran in order to facilitate reducing Iran’s heavy water stockpiles.
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it will buy 32 tons of heavy water worth an estimated $8.6 million from Iran. Iran must sell its heavy water stockpiles in excess of 130 tons according to the nuclear agreement, but it has encountered difficulty finding buyers. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called the purchase a “statement to the world” that “you can buy heavy water from Iran.” Hamid Baeidinejad, a senior official at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, confirmed the transaction.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that “some individuals in the political realm have not been paying attention to the ideals of the Revolution” during a televised news interview. Jafari’s remarks come amidst escalating rhetoric between himself and the Rouhani administration over the success of the nuclear deal and relations with the West.
Iranian news outlets reported the death of an IRGC soldier “in the suburbs of Aleppo.” He was from the 12th Qaem Brigade based in Semnan province.
- Matthew McInnis discusses prospects for the Persian Gulf’s regional powers to collectively manage regional security issues, including proposals for an OSCE-style collective security organization, in his latest blog, “Can Saudi Arabia really ‘share the neighborhood’ with Iran?”
- The Iranian Foreign Ministry identified key challenges for the nuclear deal, including Iran’s financial system and U.S. “sabotage,” in its first official report evaluating the deal’s implementation. The Critical Threats Project translated an excerpt from the report here.
- 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.”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Foreign Ministry official confirms sale of heavy water to U.S. Hamid Baeidinejad, the Foreign Ministry's Director for Political and International Affairs, confirmed that Iran is selling 32 tons of heavy water to the U.S. in a statement on April 22. He added that the agreement between “the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and American companies” was “finalized” during a Joint Commission meeting of Iran and the P5+1. The purchased heavy water will be stored in Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee before potentially being sold to private companies, according to U.S. officials. (Fars News Agency)
Iranian officials react to U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Prominent officials in the Iranian government have condemned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows families of the victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing and other attacks blamed on Iran to collect almost $2 billion in frozen assets from Iran.
- Principlist parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani called the “confiscation” of $2 billion a “violation” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (Tasnim News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
- The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) also released a statement condemning the Supreme Court’s decision. The CBI distanced the ruling from the JCPOA, however, stating that the “the seizure and withdrawal of Iran’s assets is not related to our country’s nuclear deal with the P5+1.”(ISNA) (Mehr News Agency)
- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “As we [already] said, we do not recognize the court’s ruling, and the U.S. government knows this well… The U.S. also knows well that it will be held accountable in the future for whatever action it takes with respect to Iran’s assets." (Press TV) (E) (ISNA)
- Tehran Friday prayer leader: Saudi Arabia is the one supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani reiterated Khamenei’s April 20 comments in support of Hezbollah and condemned Saudi Arabia for attempting to create “discord” during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation conference in Istanbul, when over 50 states blamed Iran for creating instability in the region. Movahedi Kermani urged Iranian authorities to ensure the “security and honor” of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. He also referenced President Hassan Rouhani’s recent comments criticizing the expanded presence of the morality police and stated that “confronting ‘bad hijabs’” is one of the duties of the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF). (Jamaran)
- Araghchi arrives in Vienna for JCPOA meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi arrived in Vienna to attend the third joint meeting between Iran and the P5+1 to discuss the JCPOA’s implementation process. (ISNA)
- Zarif and Kerry hold second meeting in New York. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry met in New York to discuss the crisis in Syria as well as the JCPOA. Fars News Agency reported that Zarif and Kerry’s first meeting in New York occurred on April 19. (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
- Jafari: Some politicians are not observing the ideals of the Revolution. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that “threats have become more serious after the nuclear deal, and these must be monitored.” Jafari added, “Unfortunately, some individuals in the political realm have not been paying attention to the ideals of the Revolution, the blood of the martyrs, and their achievements. We hope that this inattention will be removed.” (Fars News Agency)
- Moderate parliamentarian: “Our defensive power has no relationship to the nuclear deal.” Moderate conservative parliamentarian Ali Motahari voiced his support for strengthening Iran’s defensive capabilities, stating that Iran’s “defensive power has no relationship to the nuclear deal.” Motahari is one of the leading moderate voices in Parliament and will likely be a key power-broker in the next Parliament. His comments suggest that many of these moderates will not, however, go so far as to advocate for changing Iranian foreign policy. (Defa Press)
Rezaei downplays IRGC and Artesh losses in Syria. Former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei discussed the Artesh special forces deployment to Syria, the factional composition of the next Parliament, and the Expediency Discernment Council’s oversight of Resistance Economy policies during a news interview.
- On the deployment of Artesh special forces: Rezaei referred to the recent string of Artesh special forces deaths in Syria, stating, “It is natural that a number of troops die or are injured when advances are being made.” He clarified that the purpose of their deployment was not to show an “official presence” in Syria as some media outlets assert, since the “IRGC has been present in Syria before this.”
- On Parliament: Rezaei stated that the next Parliament “will have a compound [structure], and its commissions will be divided between two factions. In the previous Parliament, no commission was in the hands of the Reformists. However, in this round, the Reformists will be able to take control of commissions.” He also added that “competition for the parliament speakership will be between Ali Larijani and Mohammad Reza Aref.” Larijani is the current parliament speaker and a prominent conservative parliamentarian, while Mohammad Reza Aref is a senior reformist politician and an incoming parliamentarian.
- On Expediency Discernment Council oversight of Resistance Economy policies: Rezaei described the process through which the Expediency Discernment Council, a body appointed by the Supreme Leader to mediate conflicts between Parliament and the Guardian Council, will supervise the implementation of Resistance Economy policies. Rezaei, who is the Expediency Discernment Council secretary, stated, “If we detect any deviations [from Resistance Economy standards] in any of the apparatuses of the three branches, we will inform them. This is in order for them to make changes and reforms. If those do not take place, then we will write a letter to the Supreme Leader. We will inform him that so-and-so system in this certain branch has policies that are contrary to the Resistance Economy, and also that it has not made reforms.” Rezaei has repeatedly indicated that the Expediency Discernment Council will monitor the implementation of the Resistance Economy despite the fact that the “Resistance Economy Command Headquarters,” chaired by a member of Rouhani’s cabinet, is also tasked with coordinating Resistance Economy policy. (ISNA)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
IRGC soldier reported killed in Syria. Mohammad Hossein Hamzeh was a member of the 12th Qaem Brigade from Semnan province. No further information was provided on his rank. He was reportedly killed in “the suburbs of Aleppo.” (Defa Press)