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 contributor Ali Javaheri. 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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani expressed competing views on the nuclear deal’s impact since its implementation in January.

Khamenei disputed the deal’s economic benefits for the Iranian people, asking, “Has there been a tangible effect on the people’s lives in the past six months?” Rouhani argued that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has expanded Iran’s economic choices in remarks on the same day, however. He stated, “The JCPOA means that you are free to pick dozens of countries to buy [our] oil, instead of just two countries. The JCPOA environment has created the freedom of choice for our people.” Khamenei also reiterated his wholesale rejection of negotiating with the U.S. on regional issues by describing such negotiations as a “lethal poison.”

Iranian news agencies reported that a 3rd lieutenant from the Artesh’s 22nd Artillery Group was recently killed in Syria. He appears to be the first conventional Artesh soldier to be killed in Syria. For more on the Artesh’s deployments to Syria, see “The Artesh in Syria: A fundamental shift in Iranian hard power.” Iranian news agencies also reported the death of an IRGC member in Hama governorate. Hama is located south of Aleppo, where the majority of IRGC casualties have been reported. 

AEI Must-Reads

  • J. Matthew McInnis and Daniel Schnur consider recent shifts within Iran’s military leadership, and what those changes may indicate for Iran’s military posture as it modernizes over the next decade, in “A new direction for Iran’s military?
  • Paul Bucala and Ken Hawrey document Iran’s aerial resupply network to Syria as part of Tehran’s expanding ground campaign to support Assad in “Iran’s Airbridge to Syria.”

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Khamenei rejects negotiations with U.S. on regional issues. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as demonstrating the “uselessness” of negotiating with the U.S. during remarks on August 1. He stated that Americans “are calling for us to come negotiate on regional issues, but our experience with the JCPOA tells us that doing such a thing is a lethal poison. One cannot trust the Americans’ word on any issue.” He also questioned the economic benefits of the nuclear agreement, stating, “Weren’t the oppressive sanctions lifted so that the people would feel a change in their lives? Has there been a tangible effect on the people’s lives in the past six months [since the nuclear agreement’s implementation]?” (Fars News Agency)
  • Rouhani: The JCPOA brought us dignity. President Hassan Rouhani praised the economic benefits of the JCPOA during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC). Rouhani pointed to Iran’s increasing oil exports and stated, “When we had sanctions, our friends always reached out to others. Sanctions did not bring us any dignity. The first thing that the JCPOA brought for us was dignity.” He also stated:
    • “When a government tells us that we do not have the right to sell more than one million barrels of oil, this is a violation of our dignity… At any time we can decide how much [oil] we can export.” 
    • “The JCPOA means that you are free to pick dozens of countries to buy [our] oil instead of just two countries. The JCPOA environment has created the freedom of choice for our people.”
    • On freedom of speech: “Being revolutionary means having a free nation along with freedom of thought, speech, and criticism.” (Tasnim News Agency
  • Foreign Ministry rejects CIA director’s remarks on non-nuclear U.S.-Iran cooperation. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi dismissed CIA Director John Brennan’s recent remarks at the Aspen Security Conference that Iran and the U.S. are currently holding talks on several issues and that there is a rift in Iranian society between hardliners and moderates. Ghassemi emphasized Iranian political unity and stated:
    • “The head of the CIA is not in a position in which he can make irrelevant and improper remarks on Iran’s internal affairs… Such statements by American officials are made as [part of] psychological operations to create rifts and polarization in Iranian society. In our opinion, they are rejected and condemned [to failure]… Besides nuclear issues, there have not been and are not other negotiations between America and Iran.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Iran blames “three countries” for nuke deal document leak. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi stated that the Iranian government suspects that three countries are “complicit” in the recent leaking of a document on Iran’s commitments under the nuclear deal. The Associated Press first reported on the document, which revealed that certain restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment will ease before the nuclear accord itself expires at 15 years. Kamalvandi did not identify the three countries in question. Kamalvandi previously claimed that the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) had leaked the document and said Iran would file a complaint with the IAEA. The IAEA has since rejected the AEOI’s accusation. (Mehr News Agency(E)  
  • Iranian official criticizes Palestinian president’s meeting with MEK leader. Hossein Sheikholeslam, the recently appointed Iranian ambassador to Syria, reacted to the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) President Maryam Rajavi on July 30 in Paris, France. He noted that the fact that “a Palestinian faction [the Fatah party] that compromises with the Zionists and that has yielded to Israel under US pressure… today meets with terrorist elements is no surprise.” The MEK is an exiled Iranian opposition group. (ISNA(E)
  • National Security and Foreign Policy Commission members travel to Syria and Lebanon. Three members of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission left Iran on August 1 for a five-day trip to Syria and Lebanon. They will meet with the presidents and speakers of parliament in both countries and visit areas recaptured from anti-regime forces in Syria. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Iran and Russia ink satellite construction agreement. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi stated that Iran and Russia have reached an agreement to design and produce remote sensing satellites. Russia will reportedly launch the satellite as part of the agreement. (Tasnim News Agency)  


Domestic Politics

  • New NDF head appointed. President Hassan Rouhani appointed Ahmad Doost Hosseini as president of the National Development Fund (NDF), Iran’s sovereign wealth fund tasked with investing oil and gas revenues into the economy. Hosseini’s predecessor, Safdar Hosseini, resigned after leaks revealed that he was among the government employees receiving exorbitant salaries above the legal cap. (Fars News Agency)
    • Over $1 million to be returned to state treasury after salary scandal. Davoud Mohammadi, the head of Parliament’s Article 90 Commission, told reporters that 40 billion rials (nearly $1.3 million) are being “returned” to the state treasury from funds recovered during the ongoing of investigation into the salary scandal. Mohammadi also noted that the IRGC Intelligence Organization is continuing to assist with the investigation as well. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani requested that Parliament’s Article 90 Commission -- the parliamentary body tasked with investigating complaints among the three branches of government -- investigate and publish a report on the scandal. (Donya-e-Eqtesad)
  • Mohammad Javad Larijani: Mousavi and Karroubi are being punished due to their involvement in “rebellion.” Iran's Human Rights Council Secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani addressed the longstanding house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi during a press conference on July 31. Larijani stated, “Regarding the heads of the 1388 fitna (the 2009 election protests), special restrictions must be considered. They are being punished by depriving them of their social rights, according to the law.” Karroubi, Mousavi, and Rahnavard have been under house arrest since 2011 for leading the 2009 Green Movement protests, but they have not been formally charged for any crime. Reformist activists, including Karroubi himself, have urged President Rouhani to publicly intervene on behalf of the three imprisoned reformist leaders. (ISNA)
  • Khamenei re-appoints members of dispute resolution council. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei re-appointed Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as the head of the Supreme Board of Arbitration and Adjustment of Relations among the Three Branches of Government, a dispute resolution council created in 2011 to mediate conflict among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Khamenei also re-appointed the other four members of the board to five-year terms. The council rose to prominence earlier this year when it upheld the Guardian Council’s controversial disqualification of a reformist politician elected in Esfahan in the February parliamentary elections. (


Military and Security

  • Senior officials defend Artesh against criticism. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif issued a statement praising the Artesh after Hassan Abbasi, a provocative lecturer linked to the IRGC, claimed that the Artesh would “not make a sound” if the U.S. threatened Iran. Sharif condemned Abbasi’s statement and called the Artesh and the IRGC “Iran’s iron fist.” He added that Abbasi’s comments “were not in any way approved by the IRGC.” Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei also criticized Abbasi’s comments in public statements. Abbasi formally apologized for his remarks in a written statement on August 1 “after attending a military court.” The Artesh spokesman later blamed the controversy on the efforts of the enemy “to create divisions within the armed forces.” (Tasnim News Agency)  (Entekhab) (ANA) (ISNA) (Aftab News)
  • Pourdastan: ISIS has recruited Iranians. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan warned that ISIS has recruited Iranians and has plans to carry out operations in western Iran during remarks at a conference on “hybrid warfare.” He stated that ISIS has “recruited people inside the country,” specifically from the cities of Naftshahr and Qasr-e Shirin. Both cities are located in western Iran near the Iraqi border. Pourdastan added that ISIS recruits were preparing attacks in western Iran when two recruits were killed in clashes last March. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security also announced the arrest of two “ISIS-linked” Iranian nationals in May and the arrests of a number of individuals allegedly connected to one of the “largest takfiri-Wahhabi terrorist plots” in Iran in June. (ISCA)
  • “Informed source” denies rumors that Basij Commander was wounded in Syria. An “informed source” rejected a report circulated by Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Basij Organization Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi was wounded either in an Israeli strike or by anti-regime forces during a recent visit to Quneitra governorate in southern Syria. (Tabnak)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Artesh officer killed in Syria. Iranian news agencies reported the death of Artesh 3rd Lt. Mohammad Moradi from the 22nd Artillery Group in Syria. He appears to be the first non-special forces officer from the Artesh to have been killed in Syria. He will be buried in Esfahan. Iranian news agencies reported that he had deployed to Syria as part of a “45-day” deployment, a timespan that roughly corresponds to previous assessments of Iranian rotational patterns to Syria. (Fars News Agency)
  • IRGC soldier killed in Syria. Mahmoud Narimi was an IRGC member from Alborz province. He was reportedly killed in Hama governorate in central Syria, located south of Aleppo. This announcement is significant because the vast majority of IRGC casualties have been reported around the city of Aleppo. (Mehr News Agency
  • Six Fatimiyoun fighters buried in Tehran. Six members of the Afghan Shia Fatimiyoun Brigade were buried in Tehran on July 31. All six were reported to have been killed in Syria. (Basij News)


  • Japan agrees to fund Iran’s purchase of Mitsubishi passenger planes. Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan confirmed that the Japanese government would provide Iran with a $10 billion loan to buy commercial aircraft from Mitsubishi Aircraft. Kashan previously announced that Iran’s Aseman Airlines has been negotiating with Mitsubishi Aircraft to purchase around 25 commercial airplanes. (Press TV)
  • Russia to build thermal power plant in Bandar Abbas. Iranian news agencies circulated a report from the Russian newspaper Kommersant that Technopromexport, a Russian engineering company owned by Russian state corporation Rostec, has won a contract to construct a 1.4 gigawatt thermal power plant in port of Bandar Abbas, located in southern Iran. The project is estimated to cost nearly 1 billion euros, according to the report. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Oil minister: The oil market is oversupplied. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh discussed the global oil market amid news of rapidly declining oil prices on August 1. He stated, “Supply exceeds demand in the [oil] market currently. It has been the most important factor in the oil prices remaining low.” He added that “there are expectations that supply and demand will balance out.” Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted that Iran will continue to ramp up oil production, even as other oil-producing states have called for output freezes in order to stabilize the price. Zanganeh also noted that “Iran’s export of crude oil and gas condensate has increased to 2.5 million barrels per day,” far above Iran’s pre-JCPOA oil export levels. Zanganeh added that the Rouhani administration will review the revised Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) during a Cabinet session on August 3. Hardliners have claimed that the proposed framework of the IPC is too favorable to foreigners at the expense of domestic industry. (Mehr News Agency)


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