Iran News Round Up
A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.
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 Iranian Foreign Ministry denounced the U.S.’s deployment of up to 250 additional military personnel to Syria.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari reacted to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of a troop increase in Syria, stating that Iran has “announced from the start of the Syria crisis that any foreign intervention in Syria without coordination with its government will further escalate the crisis.” Senior Artesh commanders, meanwhile, asserted that the Artesh will continue to deploy forces to Syria “as long as the need exists” and noted that the Artesh’s advisory role in Syria was “per the order of the Supreme Leader.” An additional IRGC soldier was also reported killed in Syria.
Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami released a message calling on “those who did not participate” in the first round of voting in the parliamentary elections to cast their ballots in the April 29 runoff elections for Parliament. Khatami also released an influential message calling for a high voter turnout in the first round of elections, despite an ongoing media ban on his name and image. The 68 seats available in the runoff elections will be critical in determining Parliament’s composition, which was divided roughly equally among factions after the first round of elections on February 26.
Senior officials vowed that Iran will take action following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the victims of terrorist attacks blamed on Iran to collect almost $2 billion in Iranian frozen assets. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri pledged that Iran will use “every legal tool it has” to retrieve the assets, while Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif both stated that the Rouhani administration will form a “special committee” to review the asset seizure.
- 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.
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Foreign Ministry criticizes U.S. troop increase in Syria. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari reacted to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will send up to 250 additional military personnel to Syria. Ansari stated that Iran has “announced from the start of the Syria crisis that any foreign intervention in Syria without coordination with its government will further escalate the crisis.” (Press TV) (E)
- Araghchi: Iran may sell heavy water to Russia. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that Iran is “currently in negotiations” to sell Russia 40 tons of heavy water. He stated, “America was the first customer for heavy water, and the Russians and some other P5+1 countries are also seeking to negotiate with us in this area.” U.S. and Iranian officials confirmed on April 22 that the U.S. will purchase 32 tons of heavy water. Iran must sell its heavy water stockpiles in excess of 130 tons according to the nuclear agreement, but it has reportedly encountered difficulty finding buyers. Araghchi added that Iran “has a storage facility in Oman for the storage of heavy water.” (Fars News Agency)
Senior officials criticize U.S. Supreme Court ruling as violation of trust, vow follow-up. Senior Iranian officials continued to criticize the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing families of the victims of terrorist attacks blamed on Iran to collect almost $2 billion in Iranian frozen assets. Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani stated that “the Americans extended their hands and then stabbed us in the back,” while Amir Khojasteh, the head of Parliament’s Councils and Internal Affairs Commission, stated that those who trusted the U.S. “because of the JCPOA must now admit that Westerners are untrustworthy.” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi and Central Bank of Iran Chief Valiollah Seif both blamed the ruling on the “impudence” of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration.
- First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri pledged that Iran will use “every legal tool it has” to retrieve the assets. Araghchi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, both stated that the Rouhani administration will form a “special committee” to review the asset seizure. (Defa Press) (Tasnim News Agency) (Mehr News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Tasnim News Agency)
- Reformist newspaper: Hillary Clinton would enforce nuclear agreement “more strictly” than Obama. Shargh published a front-page opinion piece by University of Tehran Professor Nasser Hadian asserting that a Donald Trump victory in the U.S. presidential elections would be “in Iran’s benefit.” Hadian wrote that he believes Clinton will win the elections and that “she will act more strictly than Obama concerning Iran and the JCPOA’s implementation.” He added that a Trump victory “would not damage Iran, particularly because he does not have much international legitimacy.” (Shargh)
Military and Security
- Artesh Ground Forces Training Deputy: The Supreme Leader ordered us to send troops to Syria. Brig. Gen. 2C Amir Kamal Piambari praised the Artesh’s role in Syria and stated that the Artesh “has reached such a level of capability and development that it is playing a role in the advisory mission in Syria per the order of the Supreme Leader and it is playing a role alongside the IRGC.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Deputy Artesh Commander: Our deployments to Syria will continue. Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahim Mousavi stated that the deployment of Artesh troops to Syria will continue “for as long as there is a need.” The Deputy Artesh Commander also noted that the Artesh “brought this issue to the Supreme Leader and he agreed with dispatching a number of forces.” (Defa Press)
Former embassy employee sentenced to six years in prison. Former French embassy employee Nazak Afshar was reportedly sentenced to six years in prison by the Iranian judiciary on April 24. The judiciary has not publicly declared the charges against her. Afshar was reportedly arrested upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran on March 14. (Kaleme)
Alavi discusses foiled terrorist plots during February elections. Intelligence Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi said that Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) operatives targeted “terror teams” and destroyed “the terrorists’ biggest bomb-making factory” two days before, the day of, and the two days following the February 26 parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections. Alavi did not specify the location of the factory. He added that Raqqa, Syria, is “one of the main centers of conspiracy against the Islamic Republic.” (ISNA)
New S-300 shipment reportedly arrives in Iran. A Tasnim News Agency reporter tweeted photos of an Iranian military convoy escorting new components of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system in an undisclosed location in Iran on April 25. The reporter claimed that the components are S-300 missile launchers. Iran unveiled several parts of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system on Artesh Day on April 17, including a deployable radar and a command vehicle, but the S-300 launchers were not featured. (@HosseinDalirian)
Khatami repeats call for high voter turnout in runoff elections. Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami released a message calling on “those who did not participate” in the first round of voting in the parliamentary elections to cast their ballots in the April 29 runoff elections. The runoff elections will determine nearly 70 seats in the 290-member Parliament. (Kaleme)
- 6th Five-Year Development Plan comes under fresh fire. Zargham Sadeghi, a member of Parliament’s Board of Directors, announced that the “process for reviewing the standing provisions of the 6th Five-Year Development Plan” will begin “in the coming week” during open sessions of Parliament after the Parliamentary Joint Commission for the 6th Five-Year Development Plan approves the bill. The 6th Five-Year Development Plan is a document intended to guide government policy over the next five years. Parliament extended the 5th Five-Year Development Plan on March 16 until the end of the next Iranian year (≈ March 20, 2017) due to a delay in the approval of the 6th Plan. The administration had come under criticism for its failure to present the 6th Plan to Parliament in a timely fashion. Fresh criticism has surfaced, however, as the current Parliament moves to review and potentially approve the plan during its tenure before the next Parliament assumes office in late May. Head of the Parliamentary Budgeting and Planning Commission Mohammad Reza Tajgardun wrote a letter to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani entreating him to prevent the bill from passing in the current Parliament. He wrote, “Extending the 5th Plan created an opportunity for Parliament to apply the greater wisdom of experts without rushing to approval and causing it to become distorted.” Mohammad Hassan Nejad, another member of the Parliamentary Joint Commission for the 6th Five-Year Development Plan, and parliamentarian Chesmatollah Felahat Pishe both spoke out against the 6th Plan, claiming that it does not sufficiently fulfill the criteria stipulated by the Resistance Economy doctrine. (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Two Iranians missing in action announced dead. Eyas Chegini and Zakaria Shiri went missing on November 15 in Aleppo province in Syria. Chegini was reportedly a member of the IRGC 82nd Saheb al-Amr Brigade based in Qazvin province. Shiri appears to have been a member of the IRGC Special Forces. (Khabar Farsi)
IRGC member killed in Syria. Sadegh Adolat Akbari was an IRGC member from Tabriz. He was a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War. No further information was provided about his rank or unit affiliation, but it appears that he was a member of the IRGC Special Forces. (qasemsoleimani.ir)
- Six Fatimiyoun members buried in Iran. Of the six, three were buried in Mashhad, two were buried in Tehran, and one was buried in Kashan. (Defa Press) (Isaar) (Tasnim News Agency)