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 stated that he neither supports, nor opposes the non-binding framework agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, while President Hassan Rouhani reinforced Khamenei’s red lines on sanction relief, nuclear research and development, and inspections and hailed the Lausanne agreement as a “great victory” for Iran.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke for the first time since Iran signed the framework agreement with the P5+1. The Supreme Leader urged regime hardliners not to make hasty judgements on the agreement and said, “We should wait and see what will happen.” Khamenei stated that there is no position to take on this matter, because there is no binding deal in place, saying he neither favors, nor opposes the tentative plan. Khamenei, however, in no uncertain terms reiterated his prerequisites for a final nuclear deal: the complete and immediate removal of sanctions, research and development capacity, and Iran’s military sites are off limits; defensive capabilities are non-negotiable. The Supreme Leader’s speech did not indicate a shift in support for the negotiations; in fact, he explicitly endorsed President Rouhani and the negotiating team. Khamenei remains committed to the negotiations, albeit rather cautiously.
President Rouhani highlighted the nation’s achievements in the nuclear talks and said the framework agreement is a monumental victory and testament to Iranian resistance. Rouhani also reinforced the Supreme Leader’s red lines and stated: “We will not sign any agreement unless the all economic sanctions are terminated on the very first day of implementation of the deal.”
Supreme Leader reiterates prerequisites for final nuclear deal. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a gathering in Tehran on April 9 on the framework nuclear agreement and the ongoing crisis in Yemen. The Supreme Leader cautioned against exaggerated and false statements on the agreement: “We should wait and see what will happen.” Khamenei added:
- “If they ask me, ‘are you in favor or against [the agreement]?’ I will say I am neither for, nor against it, since nothing has happened yet.
- “All issues after this should be discussed in detail, because the other side is stubborn, disloyal, and known for backstabbing…and they may want to corner our country when it comes to the specifics.”
- “What has been done so far neither guarantees an agreement itself and its contents, nor ensures that the negotiations would proceed to the end, so it is pointless congratulating me and others at this point.”
- “I was never optimistic about negotiating with America, not based on hallucinations, rather based on experience… However, I agreed with these particular negotiations. I have supported—with all my existence—and will support the negotiators.”
- “I support a deal that would guarantee the Iranian nation's honor and interests.”
- "I am not indifferent to the negotiations but I have not interfered in the details of the negotiations by now and will not interfere in the future either."
- “I stress the overall issues, guidelines, and the red lines to the President and in some cases the Foreign Minister, but the details are under their authority.”
- “Officials who are honest people and support national interests should invite the critics of the [nuclear] negotiations and speak with them.”
- “I trust our negotiators—know this—I have no doubts about them… but I have serious concerns about the other side… An example of this occurred in the last round of negotiations. The White House, approximately two hours after the negotiations, issued a multi-page statement they called ‘fact sheet’ on account of the [framework agreement] which was mostly untrue.”
- On sanctions: “All sanctions must be removed when a deal is reached. If sanctions are linked to another process, then the talks are meaningless, because the purpose of the negotiations was to remove sanctions.”
- On inspections: “They [inspectors] should not be allowed to penetrate at all into the country's security and defensive boundaries under the pretext of supervision, and the country's military officials are not permitted to allow the foreigners to cross these boundaries at all or stop the country's defensive development under the pretext of supervision and inspection."
- “Research and development must continue. However, the negotiating team may deem it necessary to accept some restrictions, with which we have no problem.”
- “The nuclear program is a source of national pride… Now some underdeveloped country said, ‘If Iran has enrichment capability, then I want it too.’ Well, go ahead and do it if you know how to.”
- “Some criminal countries, who themselves have either used a nuclear weapon against a country, like America, or France who has tested weapons in the ocean, which is illegal and bad for the environment, yet they accuse us of pursuing weapons. Islam and our logic and reason forbid us from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
- On Yemen: “The Saudis will certainly take losses and will not emerge victorious at all.”
- “The reason this prediction is clear is because the Zionist [Israeli] military—several times larger than the Saudis—failed in the Gaza strip, a small area. Yemen is a vast country with a population of tens of millions.”
- “The Saudis have no chance; their [Saudis] nose will be in the dirt.”
- “Despite disputes, we always said the Saudis would display composure with us, but now inexperienced youngsters have come to power and replaced composure with barbarism.”
- “I warn the [Saudis] they must put an end to this criminal act in Yemen, the region will not accept this.”
- “America also supports them, this is America’s nature; they always take the side of the tyrant, instead of supporting the oppressed.”
- “They [America and the Saudis] will accuse Iran of interfering, but their [Saudi-led coalition] criminal [airstrikes] have made Yemen insecure; yet they say that is not intervention.” (Khamenei.ir)
Rouhani reinforces Supreme Leader’s bottom-line: sanctions must be removed. President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the occasion of the 9th National Nuclear Technology Day on April 9, in Tehran. Rouhani hailed the Iranian nation for their resistance against Western pressure, and stated: stated:
- “We announced to the world from the beginning that we want enrichment capability for fuel demands. If they [West] had given us the technology, maybe there would not have been any issues, but they said we will not give you this technology, that did not matter so much, but then they said that it was important not to allow Iran to enrich, but our nation did not [kneel] to pressure.”
- “The West supported Saddam with aircrafts, missiles, chemical weapons… and we [Iran] were empty handed… With determination and faith our nation was victorious.”
- “If we wanted to obtain chemicals, which is far easier than obtaining nuclear weapons, surely we would; we are the victims of chemical weapons; however, we did not retaliate and joined the convention banning use and stockpiling of chemical weapons instead; this is a clear indication that our nation does not need such horrible weapons.”
- On the framework agreement: “What was achieved in the nuclear talks is not that a statement was issued, the true achievement of the talks during the past 15-16 months is what was openly stated by the American president: ‘We have come to the conclusion that the Iranian nation will never surrender to pressure, sanctions, and excessive demands.'”
- “This was a great victory for the Iranian people that the world's biggest military and economic power admits Iran's resistance to pressure.”
- “The [American] president has announced and admitted that Iran's political system cannot be overthrown and that the nature of Iran's establishment which is a religious democratic system cannot be changed.”
- “Our nation will keep to the path of scientific development. As mentioned explicitly by our… negotiators in hundreds of meetings, we will not relinquish peaceful nuclear technology.”
- “Natanz will keep enriching uranium, more than 1,000 centrifuge machines will remain at Fordow and a heavy water reactor in Arak will be used to produce medicine.”
- “We will continue development by relying on the abilities of our scientists on the basis of our national interests.”
- “All the strong and courageous negotiators from the Foreign Ministry, the Atomic Energy Organization…[those]from the Parliament, the judiciary, all the forces and all the powers, all our armed forces which are the cause of the power of this country and the authority of the government, all of us are together.”
- “God willing, we set about on the path that our people decided and that is our national demand, and within the guidelines of the Supreme Leader, we tried and we will try. We do not maintain that on this path the government is victorious [on the battlefield] or that it will be.”
- On sanctions: “We will not sign any agreement unless the whole economic sanctions are terminated on the very first day of implementation of the deal.”
- “If you [the West] have claims to honor humanity, why resort to killing our nuclear scientists? Why put cruel sanctions against our civilians? Why sanctions on wheat and medical facilities and pharmaceuticals? Why sanctions on the banking system? Your approach was inhumane and no longer tenable.”
On Yemen: "A nation does not submit through bombing. Do not kill innocent children. Through bombing, a great nation like Yemen will not give in. Let’s all think of the end of the war, a ceasefire, and humanitarian assistance to the oppressed people of Yemen. Let’s prepare an atmosphere in which Yemeni with Yemen decides the future at the negotiating table.” (President.ir)
Zarif: ISIL, terrorism, and extremism mutual concern for Tehran and Islamabad. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad and emphasized the need for increased cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad on security, especially border security. Zarif said information and personnel exchanges were important factors in strengthening border security and would result in increased trade between the two countries’ border provinces. On the crisis in Yemen, Zarif stated, “We are ready to support any diplomatic solution based on dialogue and negotiation.” Zarif said that the formation of an “inclusive government” in Yemen is the only solution, but noted that, “preconditions should not delay the solution.” Zarif reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen, regional cooperation to resolve the crisis, and humanitarian aid to Yemen. (Fars News Agency)
Esmaili: country’s defense systems are non-negotiable. Brig. Gen. Amir Farzad Esmaili congratulated the nation on its nuclear achievements and asserted that Iran strictly has a peaceful nuclear program. The Artesh Khatam ol Anbia Air Base Commander reiterated that, “The country’s defense systems for any reason are non-negotiable.” He added that it is not common practice for foreign countries to discuss others’ defense systems and that Iran has not sought offensive capabilities in the past 36 years. (Tabnak)
Larijani to domestic audience: “Iranian influence in the region” is thanks to your sacrifice. Ali Larijani stated, “If Iran has turned the nuclear issue into a right, it is because of your children’s efforts; Iranian influence in the region is because of the establishment of martyrdom.” The Parliament Speaker stated, “Now, we have an international confrontation and a nuclear confrontation, and therefore cooperation and solidarity among the Iranian people is a necessary matter.” (ABNA)
Araghchi: we don’t need a fact sheet. Abbas Araghchi stated, “Officials of the Islamic Republic, especially Mr. Zarif, have made the desired issues of the Islamic Republic of Iran clear,” and “each party has expressed its own narrative of what has been achieved. Our narrative of the recent joint statement is one, which has been expressed in the media, especially by Mr. Zarif… The issues are quite clear and it is very unnecessary for us to provide an important fact sheet.” In response to the question of whether there was a “pattern or specific model in mind on both sides” for “writing the text of the [P5+1 political framework] agreement,” Araghchi stated: “we have no specific pattern for writing the text of the agreement,” and “the text of the agreement will be an introduction, and actions which both sides must take will be stated in other sections.” (YJC)
- Boroujerdi responds to new EU sanctions on Iran. Referring to a fresh round of EU sanctions on Iran, Alaeddin Boroujerdi said, “New sanctions from the European Union against Iran are an abjuration and incompatible with the spirit of the Lausanne agreement.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman blamed this distortion to the “rules of the game” on the “Zionist lobby.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Jazayeri: “unlikely” Egypt will join Saudi-led coalition. Asked to comment on the “possibility of Egypt’s presence in the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen,” IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri stated, “it seems to me that the coalition Saudi Arabia and a number of countries formed…against Yemen has actually failed, and it is unlikely Egypt would take such a strategic risk; I hope that the problem of Yemen will be resolved soon.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Cultural Deputy also stated, “In the past, few people thought the Iraqi regime would remain in place, and some countries have followed the Americans in trying to [cause] the collapse and fall of the Iraqi regime; but as you can see, this regime is in place today, and stands against problems; we hope that more successes will be achieved for the country of Iraq, and [that] all parts of this country will be released soon.” Jazayeri also stated, “visiting our military centers is a redline [in the nuclear negotiations], and as in the past permission was not given to the Western side, so in the future this permission will not be issued.” (Defa Press)
- Iran in talks to build two “small” nuclear power plants along the Persian Gulf. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran “has had pretty good progress” in talks with a number of countries to build “two small power plants in the Makran [coastal] region [in the southeast along the Pakistan-Iran border] and Persian Gulf coast.” He stated that, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s strategy is to go towards the smaller power plants, because they fit with our climate and industry.” Salehi stated, “The two plans will be placed next to the existing plant built at Bushehr.” (YJC)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Bijan Zanganeh in Beijing to discuss energy cooperation. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, along with officials from the Oil Ministry were in Beijing this morning to meet Chinese Energy Minister and senior energy officials on investment opportunities and a need to deepen bilateral cooperation in the energy sector. It was announced that Chinese firms would have a greater presence in the oil and energy sector in Iran. News outlet IRNA indicated that trade between Beijing and Tehran grew to $51 billion in 2014, representing a 72 percent increase from the previous year. China is currently Iran’s largest trading partner in Asia. (IRNA)
Parliament delegation schedule 3-day trip to Russia. NSFP Parliamentary Commission Spokesman Naghavi Hosseini said NSFP Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi and Commission members are scheduled to travel to Moscow on April 12 and meet with Russian Parliamentary officials. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Sarmardi meets Lebanese Prime Minister and Hezbollah Secretary General in Beirut. Deputy Foreign Minister and President Rouhani’s special envoy Morteza Sarmardi met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Sarmardi and Nasrallah discussed the results of the nuclear negotiations and the latest regional developments, in particular the situation in Yemen. Sarmardi also met with Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and Foreign Minister Gebron Bassil. (Mashregh News)