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 Shayan Enferadi and 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: The Foreign Ministry announced that Russia is no longer launching airstrikes from a base in western Iran.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi stated on August 22 that Russia’s use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base “has ended for now.” Russia also confirmed on August 22 that its aircraft left the base. The Russian Defense Ministry had announced its use of the base in the western province of Hamedan on August 16. Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan criticized Russia’s handling of the announcement during an interview on August 21. After a reporter asked Dehghan why Russia made the announcement before Iran did, he stated, “Naturally the Russians want to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and are present in all regional and global affairs… Of course grandstanding and incivility were behind the announcement.” In earlier remarks on August 20, Dehghan left open the possibility that Russia will operate from the base again, however. He stated that Iran “will give the Russians permission to use Nojeh Air Base whenever it is necessary.”
Dehghan also implied that Iran is attempting to work around UN Security Council Resolution 2231 to purchase Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia. UNSCR 2231 endorsed the nuclear deal and prohibits the supply, sale, and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran without prior approval from the Security Council. Dehghan stated, “We are in the process of negotiating [the purchase with the Russians]. We have not heard a negative answer from them. We are negotiating so that we can see how we can do this, given the restrictions on this activity.”
- Christopher Harmer explains why international attention must turn to Moscow’s delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran in “The Strategic Impact of the S-300 in Iran.”
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Foreign Ministry: Russia ended use of Hamedan air base “for now.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said that Russia’s use of Iran’s Shahid Nojeh Air Base to launch airstrikes in Syria “was a temporary task that was performed with Iran’s permission and has ended for now.” He stressed that the Russian use of the base was based upon a request from Moscow and that the Russians “neither have a base nor were deployed here.” Ghassemi insisted that Iran “did not have any agreement with Russia on this issue,” although he acknowledged that Iran has developed its relations with Russia “a great deal in recent years.” Iranian officials including Ghassemi are insisting that Russia has not established its own base at Shahid Nojeh because Iran’s Constitution forbids the establishment of foreign military bases in the country.
- Ghassemi also stated that the two sides had agreed not to make Russia’s use of the base public until “after the operation, when certain objectives” had been achieved. Fars News Agency reported that Levan Jagaryan, the Russian ambassador to Iran, stated that “Moscow sees no obstacle to the use of Iran’s infrastructure, including Shahid Nojeh Air Base, to conduct airstrikes against terrorists in Syria in the future.”
- Ghassemi stated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an is scheduled to travel to Tehran but added that the date of his visit has not yet been determined. Ghassemi also criticized exiled Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) President Maryam Rajavi’s forthcoming trip to Saudi Arabia. (Mehr News Agency) (Fars News Agency) (IRIB)
Defense minister: The Russians were “grandstanding” by announcing use of Hamedan air base. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan criticized Russia for announcing its use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base during an interview on August 21. The defense minister responded to a question on why Russia and not Iran had made the announcement first by stating, “Naturally the Russians want to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and are present in all regional and global affairs. They want to present themselves as an influential actor in Syria so that they can secure their own share in the future [of Syria] and against America. Of course grandstanding and incivility were behind the announcement.”
- Dehghan also defended Russia’s use of the base. He explained that the Russians “needed to refuel in an area closer to their operations [in Syria], so they used the Nojeh air base. We certainly did not give them a military base. There was no possibility of giving it to the Russians. They did not come to stay. They requested our support for a short and clear period of time commensurate with the operations they are carrying out in Syria. No written agreement took place, only operational cooperation.” Iranian media hadcirculated reports from the Russian Defense Ministry on August 16 that Iran and Russia had signed an agreement for using the base.
- Dehghan denied statements by the U.S. last week that Russia’s use of the Hamedan air base may violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear agreement and regulates military transactions with Iran. He stated, “This issue has nothing to do with that resolution, and no sale of arms took place.”
- Dehghan also discussed Iran-Russia military cooperation in separate remarks on August 20. He stated that Iran “will give the Russians permission to use [Shahid] Nojeh Air Base whenever it is necessary.” He also criticized the 20 parliamentarians who called for a closed session to review Russia’s use of the base. He stated, “This issue has no relation to Parliament. This work was a decision by the military and the Supreme National Security Council.” The Supreme National Security Council had authorized Russia’s use of the air base in accordance with a “cooperation agreement” among Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Syria, according to a senior official on a parliamentary national security committee. Dehghan added, “In no way did we give a base to the Russians. The plan [to review] this issue [in Parliament] is misleading, although we gave them some facilities for operations against ISIS in Syria, subject to an agreement by both sides.” (ISNA) (Donya-ye Eqtesad) (Fars News Agency)
- Iranian ambassador meets with spokesperson of al Houthi political wing. Iran’s Ambassador to Yemen Hossein Niknam reportedly met with Ansar Allah Spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam in Kuwait to discuss the Yemen peace negotiations. Ansar Allah is the political wing of the al Houthi movement in Yemen. Iranian officials met with Ansar Allah members recently in Tehran and indicated Iran’s support for Ansar Allah’s alliance with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (Fars News Agency)
Military & Security
Iran unveils domestically produced missile defense system. Iranian media released images of President Hassan Rouhani and Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan attending the unveiling ceremony for the Bavar-373 missile defense system on August 21. The Bavar-373 is domestically produced and was designed while Iran was under sanctions to be the equivalent of Russia’s S-300 system. Rouhani praised Iran’s military capabilities in a speech on August 21 and noted that Iran’s defense budget has “nearly doubled” over the past year. (Fars News Agency)
- On purchasing Su-30s: Dehghan stated that Iran has discussed purchasing Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia in additional remarks on August 21. He said that Iran “is in the process of negotiating. We have not heard a negative answer from [Russia]. We are negotiating so that we can see how we can do this, given the restrictions on this activity. God willing, I will be able to give the nation good news about this soon.” Dehghan was referring to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal. UNSCR 2231 prohibits the supply, sale, and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran without prior approval from the UN Security Council.
- Dehghan discussed missile defense systems in earlier remarks on August 20. He denied that the S-400 missile defense system has been installed in Hamedan province. He added that the Bavar-373 is “ready for testing” and will be operationalized “this year.” Dehghan also claimed that Russia “wanted to give us the S-400 and the Antey-2500 instead of the S-300, but we did not accept this… Some parts of the S-300 have been delivered. The rest are being loaded and will be transferred to Iran in the next month.” Russia has reportedly delivered on half of its S-300 contract to Iran. (Fars News Agency) (ISNA)