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, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Key takeaway: The IAEA announced that it has closed its 12-year investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
Senior Iranian nuclear negotiators praised the IAEA Board of Governors’ unanimous approval of a resolution closing the IAEA’s investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi called the resolution a “huge achievement” for Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that the resolution negates the previous 12 IAEA resolutions “which included accusations and serious restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.” The IAEA’s passage of the resolution marks an important step ahead of “Implementation Day,” which is expected to occur in early 2016 when the IAEA verifies that Iran has complied with its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On “Implementation Day,” the U.S. will end its enforcement of nuclear-related sanctions specified in Annex II of the JCPOA, the EU will suspend or terminate nuclear-related sanctions in Annex II, and the United Nations will also terminate relevant sanctions.
A UN panel of experts released a confidential report claiming that Iran’s October 10 firing of the Emad ballistic missile violated a UN Security Council resolution.
Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Hojjat ol Eslam Abdollah Haji Sadeghi pushed back on “foreign reporting” that Iran has reduced its number of advisors in Syria. Sadeghi stated that “the numbers which have been reported by Western media about how there are 7,000 ‘warriors’ in Syria or that this number has decreased to 700 individuals – both of these [figures] are incorrect.” Iranian media outlets, meanwhile, reported that two more Iranians were killed in Syria.
During a phone call with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari, President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iran is prepared to send “any type of help” to Nigeria and called for the preparation of a “fact-finding group” to investigate recent clashes between the Nigerian military and Shia Muslims.
Matthew McInnis and Jordan Olmstead analyze domestic criticism of President Hassan Rouhani’s economic policies in their latest blog, “Is Rouhani’s image as economic savior crumbling?”
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Zarif lauds IAEA resolution. Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the IAEA Board of Governors for its unanimous approval of the resolution closing its investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. The Foreign Minister welcomed the resolution as “opening a new chapter” in Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA and called its text “unambiguous” in its complete closure of Iran’s PMD file, which he said now belongs “to history.” Zarif stated, “This resolution has gone much further than just closing the issue known as PMD. It has officially cancelled the Board of Governors’ 12 previous resolutions relating to Iran’s nuclear program, which included accusations and serious restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.” Zarif added that the resolution completes the roadmap signed between Iran and the IAEA and permits the next stage of the nuclear agreement’s implementation to begin. (Tasnim News Agency)
Salehi: The IAEA’s resolution is a “huge achievement.” Ali Akbar Salehi praised the IAEA Board of Governors’ vote to close the PMD file on Iran’s nuclear program. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head called the decision a major step and a “huge achievement” for Iran. Salehi also reassured his domestic audiences that the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will not hinder Iran’s nuclear industry and its progress. (ICANA)
- Araghchi: The JCPOA’s implementation will be announced in three weeks. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi discussed the IAEA Board of Governors’ December 15 vote on closing its investigation into Iran’s PMD file. The Foreign Ministry’s Chief of Staff for the Implementation of the JCPOA stated that Iran and the P5+1 should issue a joint statement of completion after finalizing the implementation phase within three weeks. (ISNA)
Rafsanjani criticizes managing editor’s indictment. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani discussed the recent indictment of Mahmoud Doaei, the managing editor of the daily newspaper Ettelaat who defied the ban on media coverage of former President Mohammad Khatami. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman stated, “Conflict with a person who has lived his entire life, both before and after the Revolution, in service of [our political] system is a sign of anger that has no rational, legal, or forward-thinking support. We are worried; the consequences of this type of behavior have no benefit whatsoever for the political system.” (ILNA)
Judiciary Spokesman: Doaei will face trial. Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei stated that Ettelaat managing editor Mahmoud Doaei was summoned to court for a second round of questioning on December 13. The Judiciary Spokesman added that the case is currently being sent to court for trial. Ejei also emphasized that the ban on media coverage of “seditionists” originated with orders from the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and remains in place. (Asriran)
Judiciary Head criticizes Rafsanjani’s comments on Assembly of Experts. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani indirectly responded to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s December 13 interview, during which Rafsanjani asserted that the Assembly of Experts’ duty includes supervision over the Supreme Leader and the institutions under the purview of the Supreme Leader. The Judiciary Head stated that “some individuals propose their own illegal wishes and expectations that have no relation to the Constitution.” Larijani specifically called the notion that the Assembly of Experts has oversight over the Supreme Leader “incorrect” and said, “In the Constitution, we have nothing known as oversight over the Supreme Leader.” He added:
- “According to the Constitution, the Assembly of Experts is responsible for discerning the qualifications of the Supreme Leader... It is natural that this type of discernment is separate from supervision and the two are not correlated.” (Tabnak)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Rouhani speaks with Nigerian president. President Hassan Rouhani discussed recent clashes between the Nigerian military and Shias in a telephone conversation with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on December 15. Rouhani called for the formation of a “fact-finding group” to investigate the clashes and stated that Iran is prepared to send “any type of help” to Nigeria, including the dispatch of medical teams to assist those injured in the clashes. Rouhani also encouraged unity, stating that Muslims “must not allow trivial disputes to turn into arrests and a deep dispute.” (IRIB)
- Grand Ayatollah Hamedani condemns violence in Nigeria. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani urged the Nigerian government to respect the rights of “Muslims and Shias” and called for the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who was detained by the Nigerian military during the recent clashes. Hamedani also called on the Nigerian government to focus its efforts on combating “takfiri groups,” especially Boko Haram. (Alef)
Military and Security
Sadeghi: We are not decreasing the number of advisors in Syria. Hojjat ol Eslam Abdollah Haji Sadeghi pushed back on the “foreign reporting” that Iran has reduced the number of Iranian advisors in Syria during a press conference on December 15. The Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC stated, “The numbers which have been reported by Western media about how there are 7,000 ‘warriors’ in Syria or that this number has decreased to 700 individuals – both of these [figures] are incorrect.” Sadeghi also blamed the recent violence in Nigeria on the “troublemaking” of the “arrogant powers.” (Defa Press)
Defense Minister: We will not accept any limitations on our military. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan reiterated that Iran will not accept “any limitations” on its military “under any conditions,” even if it “has accepted limitations in the nuclear energy field.” The Defense Minister added, “Our power today is equal with some of the great powers in the field of defense; we have achieved certain capabilities that have increased our deterrent power.” (Sepah News)
IRGC Navy Commander calls for IRGC to prioritize indigenous scientific development. IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ali Reza Tangsiri discussed the IRGC’s research and development activities during a meeting with IRGC Navy officers. The IRGC Navy Deputy Commander stated, “The armed forces and particularly the IRGC must take the first step in the scientific field. Because sanctions will continue after the JCPOA, domestic scientific production must occur through the armed forces.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- Two Iranians killed in Syria.
Parliamentarians criticize government’s handling of the 6th Development Plan. Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Pour Ebrahimi and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar criticized the administration’s failure to present the 6th Five-Year Development Plan to Parliament in a timely fashion. Pour Ebrahimi claimed that the administration’s delay has prevented Parliament from considering the 2016-2017 annual budget, and Bahonar stated that the 6th Development Plan “should have been passed by now.” (Fars News Agency)
- Naghdi: The Basij should have a stronger economic role. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi blamed Iran’s economic problems on the failure of government officials to follow the Supreme Leader’s economic guidelines, particularly regarding the Resistance Economy. The Basij Organization Commander emphasized that the Basij are prepared to help reform the economy in the same way that they were prepared to defend the country during the Iran-Iraq War. (Fars News Agency)