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: Iranian state media aired footage of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system deployed at the Fordow nuclear facility in Qom province on August 28.
Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base Commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili praised the deployment and stated that Iran’s airspace “is one of the most secure airspaces in the region now.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also praised the S-300 as a “defensive weapon” during a meeting with senior commanders from the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base, which is the branch of the Artesh responsible for Iran’s land-based air-defense systems. Russia has reportedly delivered half of the S-300 systems to Iran so far under its current contract. Tasnim News Agency, meanwhile, reported that Iranian authorities “warned” a U.S. drone entering Iranian airspace along the Afghan-Iranian border. The drone then left the area, according to the report.
First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri announced that the “first phase” of the National Information Network has been implemented. The National Information Network is a planned independent intra-net that will be only accessible from within Iran. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi claimed that the network is aimed at creating “better service, faster speeds, and more security” for Iranian users. Researchers, however, have contended that the creation of the National Information Network will also facilitate state monitoring and censorship of internet traffic within Iran.
Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed previous reporting that a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team has been arrested on espionage charges. Ejei stated that the charges have not been proven, however, and that the arrested individual is on bail despite the gravity of the charges against him.
Iranian social media sites reported the death of an Iranian fighter in Syria. No rank or unit affiliation was provided.
- Marie Donovan analyzes how Russia’s use of an Iranian air base could improve Iran’s deterrence capabilities against the U.S. in “Russian Basing in Iran is about More than ISIS.”
- 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."
Military & Security
S-300 reportedly deployed to Fordow nuclear facility. Iranian state media aired footage showing Iranian security forces deploying components of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system at the Fordow nuclear facility in Qom province. Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base Commander Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili praised the deployment and stated, “Iran’s airspace is one of the most secure airspaces in the region now. And the protection of our nuclear sites will not be subverted in any way.” (Fars News Agency)
Supreme Leader: The S-300 is a defensive weapon. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Iran’s air defense capabilities during a meeting with senior commanders from the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base. Khamenei stated, “The enemy must understand that that they will be met with a crushing response if they attack. Our defense will also include a response.” Khamenei also noted that the S-300 is a “defensive weapon,” not an “offensive weapon,” but the “U.S. tried its hardest so that the Islamic Republic could not enjoy this capability.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Supreme Leader: The S-300 is a defensive weapon. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Iran’s air defense capabilities during a meeting with senior commanders from the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base. Khamenei stated, “The enemy must understand that that they will be met with a crushing response if they attack. Our defense will also include a response.” Khamenei also noted that the S-300 is a “defensive weapon,” not an “offensive weapon,” but the “U.S. tried its hardest so that the Islamic Republic could not enjoy this capability.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Tasnim News Agency: Iranian authorities warn U.S. “stealth” drone not to enter Iranian airspace. Hardline media outlet Tasnim News Agency reported that the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base “identified and warned” a U.S. stealth drone before it entered Iranian airspace on August 29. The report states that the drone was flown from a base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and was approximately 20 miles from the Iranian border before it was identified. The report further claims that missile systems were placed on alert upon identification. Iranian officials have not made any statements on the encounter. (Tasnim News Agency)
Esmaili: Long-range radar system is operational. Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base Commander Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili announced that the Nazir long-range radar system is operational. He stated that “the Nazir radar system specializes at identifying stealth aircraft and tracking ballistic and cruise missiles.” (Fars News Agency)
- First stage of National Information Network implemented. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri told reporters that the “first phase” of the National Information Network has been implemented. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi claimed that the network is aimed at creating “better service, faster speeds, and more security” for Iranian users. According to Iranian media reports, the “first phase” of the National Information Network’s implementation involves creating the necessary infrastructure to support separating domestic and foreign internet traffic. (Hamshahri) (Mehr News Agency)
Judiciary spokesman confirms arrest of nuclear negotiating team member. Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed the arrest of a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team on espionage charges during a press conference on August 28. Ejei did not name the arrested individual, but he was likely referring to Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a banking expert on the negotiating team. Ejei also noted that the charges have not been proven and that the unnamed individual is on bail despite the gravity of the charges against him. A website close to Iran’s security apparatus reported Esfahani’s arrest last week and described him as a dual citizen of Iran and Britain. There are conflicting reports on his second nationality, however. Some reports in Iranian media have claimed that he is a Canadian-Iranian rather than British-Iranian citizen. Tehran prosecutor-general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced the arrest of a dual national for connections to British intelligence services on August 16. Iranian security forces have arrested several dual nationals in the past year on security-related charges, including Canadian-Iranian professor Homa Hoodfar and British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (IRNA)
Parliamentarian criticizes justice minister for 1988 executions. Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari wrote a controversial open letter to Justice Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mostafa Pourmohammadi on August 27 demanding that Pourmohammadi explain his involvement in the execution of 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. Twenty parliamentarians reacted to the open letter by calling for Motahari to resign from his position as deputy parliament speaker. Pourmohammadi released a statement defending the executions, stating, “We take pride in implementing God’s orders regarding the hypocrites,” referring to the exiled opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq. The issue of the mass executions reemerged in early August when the website of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri published an audio recording of Montazeri condemning the executions. (ISNA) (Entekhab) (Alef)
- Iraqi Hezbollah al Nujaba general secretary travels to Iran. Iraqi Sheikh Akram al Kaabi traveled to Iran to meet with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi, and other Iranian officials. During a press conference in Iran, Akram al Kaabi stressed the importance of Iranian advisors to operations in Iraq. He stated that IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani “has been present in all operations, and we need him and his colleagues.” (Fars News Agency) (Defa Press)
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Former intelligence minister defends Russia’s use of Iranian air base. Ali Younesi, a former Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) head and former ethnic and minority affairs advisor to President Hassan Rouhani, stated that Iran should not “fear” military cooperation with Russia. Younesi indicated that Iran’s recent military cooperation with Russia has caused the “fear of becoming close with Russia” to grow within the country. Younesi defended the Russian use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base and said it should be seen as a point of strength for Iran instead of weakness. (Fars News Agency)
Iranian gas exports double. Iran doubled the quantity of its gas condensate exports from mid-August to mid-July of this year, when compared to the same time period the previous year. According to government statistics, natural gas has become Iran’s largest non-oil export. (Shana)
Casualties in Iraq & Syria
- Iranian killed in Syria. Iranian social media sites reported the death of Mostafa Rashidpour in Syria. No rank or unit affiliation was provided. (Qasemsoleimani.ir)