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. 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 U.S. Senate unanimously approved a clean 10-year renewal of the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) despite Iranian threats that its renewal would “certainly” violate the nuclear deal.
The ISA authorizes the imposition of energy, banking, and defense sanctions over Iran's missile and nuclear activities and is due to expire at the end of the year. Proponents argue that renewing the ISA’s authorization for sanctions will motivate Iran to abide by its commitments under the nuclear agreement by protecting America’s ability to reinstate sanctions. Critics assert that the extension will not have a practical effect because the president retains the authority to impose sanctions unilaterally. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on November 23 that Iran would “certainly respond” to a renewal of the ISA and falsely claimed that a renewal would violate the nuclear deal. A clean extension of the ISA does not violate the nuclear deal because it renews the authority to impose existing sanctions rather than imposing new ones.
A Kenyan court charged two Iranians with facilitating terrorism after Kenyan authorities arrested them in an Iranian diplomatic vehicle taking footage of the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi. In 2012, Kenyan authorities arrested two Iranians on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks.
- Paul Bucala and Marie Donovan analyze recent changes to Iran’s military command structure in “A New Era for Iran’s Military Leadership.”
- J. Matthew McInnis discusses the factors that could propel President-elect Donald Trump to pursue revised terms of the nuclear deal in “Why Trump Might Not Need to Rip Up the Iran Nuclear Deal.”
Newspapers celebrate OPEC deal. Reformist newspaper Hamshahri highlighted Russia’s role in reaching OPEC’s latest agreement, which cuts collective oil production by approximately 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) while allowing Iran to raise its output slightly to a pre-sanction level of a little less than 3.8 million bpd. Hamshahri stated that Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of pre-sanction levels for Iranian production was the “result” of a telephone conversation between President Hassan Rouhani and President Vladimir Putin. Russia reportedly played an influential role in mediating the agreement between Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Rouhani.
- Arman-e Emrooz praised the OPEC deal as “Iran’s oil JCPOA,” referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
- The leading article in the newspaper Iran praised the agreement as a victory and the result of Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh’s “powerful diplomacy… in the post-sanctions environment.” (Press TV) (E)
Rouhani praises OPEC agreement. President Hassan Rouhani hailed “positive developments with oil prices” and noted that “some countries arranged for a certain conspiracy against Iran in regards to the oil issue but afterwards they were adversely affected [by low oil prices].” Rouhani also praised his administration’s economic record but criticized Iran’s media outlets for failing to sufficiently cite his achievements. He stated:
- “All oil-producing countries suffered problems [with low oil prices], and Saudi Arabia, with its 10.5 million barrels of oil per day, had to withdraw $100 billion dollars from its reserve fund to manage the country. But Iran for the first time in its history did not withdraw any funds from its reserves and actually deposited 20 percent of its oil revenues into the National Development Fund over the past two years… This shows the power of the Iranian people and government, yet it is not talked about on television or the radio.” The National Development Fund is Iran’s sovereign wealth fund tasked with investing oil and gas revenues into the economy. Rouhani also announced that his administration will present a draft for next year’s budget (March 2017-March 2018) to Parliament on December 4. (ILNA) (Farda News)
- Kerman Friday prayer leader requests cancellation of Motahari speech. Interim Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Mehdi Arabpour called for outspoken Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari to cancel a speech scheduled for December 5 in Kerman. Arabpour cited the need to preserve “unity among the people” and criticized Motahari as someone who “maneuvers around red lines.” Motahari, a moderate-conservative notorious for his controversial remarks, made headlines recently when security officials prevented him from giving a speech in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province. (Ghatreh)
Military & Security
IRGC gyroplane crashes in Sistan and Baluchistan. IRGC Ground Forces announced that an IRGC gyroplane crashed near the town of Saravan in Sistan and Baluchistan province. The statement claimed that the gyroplane crashed at the Saravan airport during a “reconnaissance mission.” The pilot was killed in the crash. No further details were provided, however. This is the second time an IRGC gyroplane has crashed in Sistan and Baluchistan in recent months. In early October, two IRGC members were killed when their “ultralight gyroplane” crashed into electrical cables near the city of Iranshahr, Sistan and Baluchistan province. IRGC forces typically use these gyroplanes when conducting reconnaissance missions along Iran’s borders. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Artesh Navy commander: Our ships have escorted almost 4,000 vessels in the Gulf of Aden. Second Artesh Naval Region Commander Admiral Reza Abbasi announced that Artesh vessels have escorted 3,844 commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden. Abbasi also praised the Artesh Navy 44th Fleet’s recent trip to South Africa and allegedly into the Atlantic. (Fars News Agency)