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, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. 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: Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to bolster its defense capabilities, while IRGC Air Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the IRGC will soon hold large-scale ballistic missile drills.

IRGC Brigadier General Dehghan dismissed the premise that the P5+1 nuclear deal will restrict Iran’s military capabilities. The Defense Minister reiterated the Supreme Leader’s firm position that the regime’s missiles are nonnegotiable. Dehghan asserted that imposing sanctions will not deter Iran from strengthening its defensive capacity and insisted: “our nation has no worries or concerns about this issue…” IRGC Brigadier General Hajizadeh, meanwhile, confirmed the IRGC’s upcoming plans to hold missile exercises.

The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has created several pages on to help clarify the hyper complex language of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to provide additional information about some of the entities that will be freed of international restrictions.

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis highlights the Iranian leadership’s ongoing fears of the United States’ “soft war,” or use of covert activities and corrupting Western cultural and political ideas to subvert the Iranian regime, in the post-deal environment in his most recent blog post, “Iran braces for ‘soft war’ post nuclear deal.” 

Military and Security

  • Hajizadeh announces IRGC ballistic missile exercise “in the near future.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh announced “the IRGC’s plan to hold a major ballistic missile exercise in the near future,” stating “God willing, this issue [of the ballistic missile exercise] can be a thorn in the eye of the enemies; the details [for the exercise] will be announced in the future.” The IRGC Air Force Commander also discussed American threats against Iran and American strategy in the region. 
    • On the threat of an American military attack: “As someone who has spent 35 years in the service of the nation of Iran, I say that an American military attack is not a great threat for us, because the Americans do not dare. They are very fragile and vulnerable, and repeatedly acknowledged this issue themselves during the nuclear negotiations…”
    • On the danger of American cultural influence: “Our great and main threat is America’s influence… some people realize it and some don’t – pursuing the theory of compromise and opening up the country to America is the biggest danger which threatens us.”
    • On the constancy of American strategy in the region: “It is possible America’s tactics and methods have undergone changes, but its strategy has not changed.”
    • “After reaching a dead end in the great wars….The Americans sought to dominate by every approach possible, by making tactical changes and by riding the wave of regional developments in the last few years in West Asia and in Arab countries.”
    • “Plundering the wealth of the region, looting the oil and mineral resources of the Islamic countries, selling weapons in the shadows, producing fear and panic in other countries, are considered some of America and the West’s objectives, which are currently in progress with different tactics and methods.” 
    • “By spreading takfiri groups, America seeks to bring conflict, insecurity, and destruction even to the Caucasus and Central Asia, and expand its scope to China and Russia.” (Sepah News)
  • Dehghan: The U.S. is trying to turn the Iranian people against their government. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan stated, “We must naturally understand that the domineering powers with America at the top…. are always on the path of confrontation and enmity” with Iran. The Defense Minister said that the West “wants to weaken the nation’s ideological foundations and thoughts…and develop mistrust of their relationship with the system in their hearts…” Dehghan also addressed the confusion regarding Iran’s ballistic missiles under UN Security Council, or UNSC, Resolution 2231: “Although [UNSC] Resolution [2231]…created a debate on restricting us in the field of arms, and although…a very serious situation was imposed against us in previous resolutions, we never implemented the sanctions against us on the defense issue… we never gave credit to this kind of sanctions…our nation has no worries or concern about this issue, because this path is the path of honor and dignity…” (Defa Press)


Official Statements

  • Rashid: Nuclear deal will not align Iran with the West. IRGC Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid spoke at a memorial service for soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq War on August 21 in Khushevash, Mazandaran province. The Armed Forces General Staff Deputy praised Iranian resistance against the West and claimed that Iran’s resilience is unmatched. Rashid also discussed the P5+1 nuclear deal and stressed that the deal does not mean Iran is “attuned with world powers [the West] on key issues and the region.” Rashid added:
    • “The enemy still has new [plots] designed to confront Iran…therefore, we [Iran] must be watchful…”
    • “The nuclear controversy raised by the enemies is an excuse and the Agency [IAEA] has also accepted Iran’s right to enrich; therefore this will be accomplished with the supervision of the [IAEA]...”
    • “The nuclear agreement is a fundamental and important subject, because good things were done due to the efforts of our country’s diplomats in defending Iran against the world’s six [P5+1] great countries.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Naghdi: “We will be in Jerusalem before the year 2025.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi underlined the importance of preserving the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and resistance against the U.S. The Basij Organization Commander accused the U.S. and Israel of supporting terrorists in the region and said, “From Palestine to Yemen, the resistance against America will continue.” Naghdi dismissed the notion that Iran’s economy will collapse if the regime does not change and declared: “We say that this is just a delusion; the Islamic Revolution of Iran will not change its course and I emphasize that we will be in Jerusalem before the year 2025.” (Mashregh News)
  • Khatami: The Iranian nation will stand against America’s “filthy schemes.” Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami warned Iranians of the expanding American influence in the country during a speech in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province.
    • On the U.S.: Khatami stated that “everyone must be committed” to “religious honor, national honor, and virtuous honor” in the Islamic order. He said, “National honor is identical with the Supreme Leader’s command. The nation will not allow America to once again stretch its hands [into the country]. The nation will stand with conviction and all its might in front of the Americans’ invasion and their filthy schemes.”
    • On the Green Movement: Khatami added, “Unfortunately, the enemies still hope to strike Iran with sedition like the 2009 sedition.”
    • On the Internet: Khatami also cautioned against the moral dangers that cyberspace poses to young Iranians. He stated, “If our young people meet the two criteria of ‘distinguishing truth from falsehood’ and ‘verifying their own positions based on the legal authority and the Supreme Leader,’ they will never slip into deviation, sedition, or corruption.” (Basij News)
  • Assembly of Experts member: No one has the right to ignore and undermine the Guardian Council. Ayatollah Abbas Kaabi responded to President Hassan Rouhani’s recent comments on the Guardian Council, saying that “the President and all the senior officials are bound to support the official institutions of government.”  The Assembly of Experts member added, “No one has the right to speak in such a way as to ignore and undermine the legal and regulatory position of the Guardian Council.” (Rasa News)
  • Ayatollah Shabestari: “The goal of the arrogant powers is to create divisions in the region.” Ayatollah Mohsen Mojtahedi Shabestari echoed the Supreme Leader’s warning on Western influence in Iran during his Friday prayer speech. The Tabriz Friday Prayer Leader, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, claimed that “the enemy intends to create divisions between the governments and the people of the Muslim world and [create] influence and interference in Islamic countries.” Shabestari urged that “it is necessary to prevent the creation of divisions and combat the plots of the enemy” and he warned that “America intends to find a way to influence the country through the nuclear negotiations and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]…but we must not allow colonialism to infiltrate [Iran].” Shabestari also praised Iran’s defense capabilities ahead of “Defense Industry Day,” stating that the “arrogant powers are afraid of Iran’s missile strength.” (Rasa News)
  • Pourdastan: No inspections at military facilities. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan reiterated the Supreme Leader's redlines, stating that "inspections will not be allowed" at any military sites. (ABNA)


Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader: We must use the JCPOA to our advantage. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda stated that “today we must use the issue of the nuclear deal, whether it gets passed or advance our own goals, especially against the arrogant powers, as the Supreme Leader has specified.” The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, claimed that “our Supreme Leader and our people will ignore the issue of missile restrictions that the UN Resolution [2231] brings up, like all the other imposed regulations that our people have ignored.” Alam ol Hoda emphasized that the missile restrictions are not binding and “therefore must not be implemented.” (Mashregh News)
  • Guardian Council member: Vetting candidates is the legal duty of the Guardian Council. Siamak Rahpeyk discussed the role of the Guardian Council during an interview with Tasnim News Agency. The Guardian Council member stated, “Reviewing the qualifications of candidates…is based on the Constitution and has been done for years… Of course, counting votes and discussions on this matter are the duties of the administrative institutions.” Rahpeyk added, “The supervisory institutions monitor this entire process; all of these things are stated in laws.” Rahpeyk warned that the Guardian Council has the legal authority to “even nullify the results of an entire election.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Deputy Parliament Speaker: Presenting the JCPOA as a bill to Parliament depends on “the system.” Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard discussed the prospect of sending the JCPOA as a bill to Parliament. The Deputy Parliament Speaker stated, “Of course, Parliament members expect that the government will send the JCPOA to Parliament as a bill, but the issue of the JCPOA and nuclear discussions have been a national matter. An action will be taken in this area based on the system’s decision.” He added, “The will of Parliament… is that the JCPOA should be scrutinized in Parliament during its review; the correct and principled decisions will be made based on its review.” (ICANA) 


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Boroujerdi discusses the reopening of British embassy. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi addressed the upcoming visit of British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to reopen the British embassy in Tehran. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman stated that British officials “have now decided” to require visas "due to the significant number" of Iranians living in Britain. Boroujerdi stressed that the reopening of embassies in Tehran and London should “provide services” to Iranian citizens. (Tabnak)
  • Supreme Leader’s Chief of Staff blames U.S. for regional crises. The Chief of Staff of the Office of the Supreme Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani accused the U.S. of supporting terrorists, claiming that “America directs all enmities with Muslims.” (ISNA)
  • Sistani warns about corruption in Iraq. Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani stressed the need to “combat corruption and achieve social justice” in Iraq. Sistani warned that if conditions in Iraq do not improve, “a partition might occur, which no Iraqi who loves the country wants [to happen].” He noted that corruption was “one of the reasons why a great area of the country was captured by ISIS.” (Javan Online)
  • Sheibani: Syria is "a pillar of the axis of resistance." Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani reiterated Tehran's full support to Damascus in its fight against terrorists. Tehran’s ambassador to Damascus also linked the Syrian crisis to that in Palestine, stating, "Anyone who defends Syria is in fact defending Palestine and [any] one who fights against Syria is actually fighting against Palestine." Sheibani explained that resistance "is the only way to counter Zionist plots and conspiracies," adding that Syria is a "pillar of the axis of resistance." (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
  • Velayati: “Some countries tried to wreck the relationship between Iran and Afghanistan.” Ali Akbar Velayati met with the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Mohammad Mohaqiq in Tehran to discuss regional issues on August 19.The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stressed that “shared religion, culture, and language can lay the basis for joint cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan… This cooperation can increase interaction between the two countries.” Velayati added that “some countries tried to wreck the relationship between Iran and Afghanistan; however, because of the strength of this relationship, they were not successful.” (Basij Press) 
  • Russia to deliver fuel to the Bushehr plant. TVEL, a subsidiary of Russia's nuclear energy company Rosatom, stated that "it will deliver fresh nuclear fuel" to the Bushehr power plant. The TVEL statement also mentioned that the fresh fuel loading is "scheduled for September" and will be conducted in "the presence of international experts during a planned maintenance of the plant." (Press TV) (E)
  • Abdollahian meets with Swiss official to discuss Syria and Yemen. Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA) Unit Head Manuel Bessler to discuss the latest developments in Yemen and Syria. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs called for a "resolution of [the] Syria crisis through dialogue" and a halt to airstrikes against Yemen. Both officials called for an "immediate release of humanitarian aid to Syria." (IRNA) (E)
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