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: Iran finalized a deal with Airbus to lease seven planes in Iran’s second upgrade to its civilian fleet this week.

Iranian media first quoted Labor Minister Ali Rabiei announcing that Aseman Airlines and Airbus agreed to the purchase of seven planes. Reuters later quoted two anonymous aviation industry sources clarifying that Aseman Airlines is leasing the planes rather than purchasing them, however. The sources also noted that the deal to lease the seven planes is separate from a potential dealbetween Iran Air and Airbus for more than 100 planes. Separately, Iran and Boeing finalized a deal for the purchase of 80 aircraft for its antiquated fleet on December 11. 

The White House announced that President Barack Obama will neither sign nor veto the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). The move allows the ISA to become law while still signaling the administration’s disapproval of the ISA as “unnecessary” for America’s ability to impose snapback sanctions on Iran. Iranian officials have falsely claimed that the ISA’s renewal constitutes a violation of the nuclear agreement by imposing new sanctions. Congress approved a “clean” 10-year renewal of the ISA, which extends the president’s authority to enforce existing sanctions rather than imposing new ones, however. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the Obama administration will continue to waive relevant sanctions per the nuclear deal.

AEI Must-Reads


  • Iran and Airbus finalize deal for seven planes. Iranian media reported that Iran’s Aseman Airlines and Airbus reached an agreement for the purchase for seven airplanes on December 15. Labor Minister Ali Rabiei expressed hope that Airbus would begin delivering the planes in the month of Ordibehesht next year (April-May 2017). Reuters quoted two aviation industry sources stating that Aseman Airlines is leasing the planes rather than purchasing them, however. (Ana
  • AFGS head hints at new roles for IRGC construction wing. Armed Forces General Staff Head IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri praised the IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Headquarters, the construction wing of the IRGC, for carrying out developments projects throughout Iran for “typically a much lower final price than a domestic or foreign” company. Bagheri stressed that Khatam ol Anbia only takes on projects “that the private sector cannot accomplish.” Bagheri stated that Khatam ol Anbia “has taken great strides. It will take larger steps ahead which will be announced to the public.” Bagheri did not elaborate further on the headquarters’ plans, however. Bagheri’s statement is in response to a recently announced agreement between Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries for the construction of ten container ships. Khatam ol Anbia’s commander, IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Abdollah Abdollahi publicly criticized the agreement and suggested the contract instead be awarded to a domestic company such as the IRGC-owned Iran Marine Industrial Company. The IRGC and other regime hardliners worry that President Hassan Rouhani’s program of economic reforms and limited expansion of relations with the West could undermine their hold on significant sectors of Iran’s economy. (Tasnim News Agency)

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • AFGS deputy: The U.S. should take heed of Aleppo’s fall. Armed Forces General Staff Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri warned that the U.S. should “learn from its lessons in Aleppo and withdraw its forces from the region and no longer kill innocent civilians.” Jazayeri proclaimed that America’s strategy of “proxy war” in Iraq and Syria “has been shattered” and called upon the “new U.S. administration to consider the failures of the Democrats.” Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati also claimed that the “victory” in Aleppo will “certainly change the regional balance.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry denies that Iran set preconditions for Aleppo evacuation deal. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi rejected a Reuters report that Iran set preconditions for a ceasefire and evacuation deal brokered by Russia and Turkey on December 14 in Aleppo. Reuters had cited officials from the U.N. and two Syrian rebel groups claiming that Iran demanded the simultaneous evacuation of the wounded in the rebel-besieged Shia villages of Foua and Kefraya. Ghassemi called the report “propaganda” and reiterated Iran’s objective to “establish peace and stability and purge the terrorists from Syria.” If true, Iran’s conditions appear to have been incorporated into evacuation efforts. Approximately 1,000 people were evacuated from rebel-held districts in Aleppo as well as Foua and Kefraya on December 15.
    • Ghassemi also praised Kenya’s “release” of two Iranian citizens on the Foreign Ministry’s Telegram account. Kenya reached an agreement with the Iranian embassy to deport the Iranians, who were arrested on terrorism charges after filming the Israeli embassy in Nairobi. (Fars News Agency) (E) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Islamic Unity Conference begins in Iran. President Hassan Rouhani addressed the 30th Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on December 15. Rouhani called for unity between Shia and Sunni communities and stated, “There is no Shia crescent or Sunni triangle. As the late Imam [Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] stated, there is just American Islam standing up against pure Islam.” The Islamic Unity Conference series brings together Islamic scholars and clerics from around the world. The Iranian regime has used the conference to form relationships with key religious networks in the region. A total of 220 representatives from over 50 countries reportedly participated in the Islamic Unity Conference this year.
    • Iran invited Taliban officials to participate in the conference this year, according to Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, who is an Assembly of Experts member and the secretary-general of the World Forum for the Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought. During a recent press conference, Araki stated, “The Taliban is a movement that has both extreme and more moderate elements. We can establish relations with some of these individuals. We are trying to establish relations with anyone who speaks about Islamic unity.” This move comes after Iran’s ambassador in Kabul confirmed to reporters that Iran has a line of communication with the Afghan Taliban. (ILNA) (Khabar Online) (IRIB)
  • Spokesman of national security committee: The U.S. never wanted to implement nuclear deal. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the spokesman for Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, called the renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) a “certain violation” of the nuclear deal. He claimed, “At least eight articles in the ISA are considered completely new nuclear sanctions... We believe that the Americans were never trying to implement the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], and they still are not.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Zarif consults with Russian, Syrian, Turkish, and German counterparts on Aleppo.Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed developments in Syria and the JCPOA’s implementation during a telephone conversation on December 15. Zarif has also held separate telephone conversations with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and his Syrian counterpart Walid al Muallem, respectively, over the last few days to discuss the situation in Aleppo. (Fars News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Larijani: “Astronomical” salaries are “oppressive” to society. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed the salary scandal during a meeting with local officials in Golestan province. Larijani claimed that the Supreme Audit Court, a governmental body tasked with managing state financial operations, concluded that only 400 of 95,000 senior government officials had committed salary violations. He added that 396 of 400 returned excess funds to the government. The Judiciary is investigating the other four, Larijani said. He added that Parliament is currently considering legislation aimed at more tightly regulating salaries for public workers. (Fars News Agency)
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