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 Air finalized a deal to purchase 100 commercial aircraft from Airbus, nearly a week after finalizing a similar agreement with Boeing. 

Farhad Parvaresh, the managing director of Iran Air, announced during a press conference that the deal will include 100 aircraft and be valued “at less than $10 billion.” The initial agreement envisioned 118 planes valued at over $25 billion, but regulatory issues and domestic political pressure in Iran over the purchase of the larger A380s led to the reduction in the number of planes included in the agreement. Iran Air finalized a $16.6 billion agreement for the purchase of 80 commercial aircraft from Boeing on December 11. The nuclear deal lifted restrictions on the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran Air, despite the fact that U.S. Treasury designations implicated the airline in flying cargo to Syria in support of the IRGC and the Syrian government. Open-source evidence indicates that Iran Air has continued its flights in support of the Syrian regime, however.

AEI Must-Reads


  • Iran Air finalizes deal with Airbus. Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan announced that Iran Air and Airbus finalized a deal for the purchase of 100 commercial civilian planes. Farhad Parvaresh, the managing director of Iran Air, announced during a press conference that Iran Air will not be purchasing A380 models from Airbus as previously planned, reducing the total value of the purchase to less than $10 billion. Iranian hardliners had criticized purchasing the superjumbo A380s, which would have been used to expand Iran’s international air routes. Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi also announced over the weekend that the deal with Airbus will be signed this week. Reuters reported that the first Airbus planes could arrive in Iran before the January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump. (Donya-Eqtesad) (Dolat-e Bahar) (Fars News Agency)
  • Parliament approves outline of Sixth Five-Year Development Plan. Parliament voted to approve the outline of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan on December 18, with 154 parliamentarians voting in favor, 76 against, and 8 abstaining. Parliament will continue to review the details of the plan over the next two weeks, according to a member of Parliament’s presiding board. The Sixth Five-Year Development Plan is intended to guide the government’s economic and social policies from 2016-2021. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei originally issued the outline of the Sixth Five-Year Plan to the Rouhani administration in 2015, but political infighting and economic concerns delayed it being sent to Parliament for approval. (IRIB)
  • Khatam ol Anbia head  head renews criticism of Rouhani administration. IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Headquarters Head Brig. Gen. Abdollah Abdollahi stated, “Today the country’s main priority is job creation and the development of entrepreneurship platforms… The government should be more focused on domestic capabilities. If we broaden the activation of the country’s production capacities to replace imports, and if we use the ability of Iranian companies to implement development projects instead of turning to foreign companies, the problem of youth unemployment will be solved.” Last week, Abdollahi publicly criticized an agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries for the construction of ten container ships. He similarly accused the Rouhani administration of favoring foreign companies over domestic construction companies. (Tasnim News Agency

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Foreign Ministry denounces assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi condemned the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov in Ankara as "barbarous." (Press TV)
  • Rouhani: Iran is committed to its obligations under the nuclear deal. President Hassan Rouhani met with Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Tehran on December 18. Rouhani vowed that Iran will be “committed to its obligations in the nuclear deal as long as the other side abides by its commitments.” Rouhani, however, reiterated his criticism of America’s ten-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) and called the move “contrary to the nuclear deal.” During a press conference in Tehran on December 18, Amano stated that Iran is complying with its obligations under the nuclear deal. Two anonymous diplomats claimed that Amano also warned Iran against violating its enrichment commitments, however. (Mehr News Agency)
    • Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi also met with Amano to discuss Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Salehi stated that he discussed Rouhani’s “orders” in response to the ISA’s extension with Amano. On December 13, Rouhani ordered the AEOI to begin “planning” the development of nuclear-powered ships and called upon Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to take “legal and international” measures to address America’s alleged “violations” of the deal. Separately, Salehi warned that Iran could “return to its previous stance [regarding its nuclear activity] in such a way that the opposing side would be taken by surprise.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Zarif calls for P5+1 review of ISA renewal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for Iran and the P5+1 to meet to review America’s renewal of the ISA in a letter to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini. Iranian officials have repeatedly criticized the 10-year clean extension of the ISA as a violation of the nuclear deal. (MFA(E) 
  • Khamenei criticizes Britain. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise to help GCC states “push back” against Iran’s “aggressive regional actions” during a speech at the Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on December 17. Khamenei called May’s statement “shameless” and condemned Britain’s role as “the source of evil” in the Middle East over the past 200 years. May’s remarks threatened to upset Iran-Britain relations. A group of parliamentarians responded to her statement by presenting Parliament’s Board of Directors with a resolution calling for the downgrading of relations with Britain on December 11, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to Iran in protest. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi referred to the resolution calling for downgrading ties on December 19 and stated, “It is possible that murmurs on downgrading ties do exist. But officially we do not plans to downgrade relations.” Iran and Britain reopened their respective embassies in 2015, four years after Iranians protesting sanctions stormed the British embassy in Tehran. (ISNA) (Fars News Agency)
    • Government officials warn against protesting in front of UK embassy, Turkish consulate. Deputy Tehran Governor Ali Asghar Naserbakht warned that any protests held outside the British embassy in Tehran will be a “violation and will be dealt with accordingly” after an “unknown group” reportedly called for a protest against the embassy. The governor of Mashhad made similar warnings against protests outside the Turkish consulate in Mashhad after rallies were held in front of the Iranian diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul regarding Iran’s alleged role spoiling the Aleppo ceasefire. Iran received widespread international criticism after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in January in reaction to Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. (Aftab News)   
  • AFGS deputy: “America’s plan to partition Syria has been defeated.” Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri hailed the fall of Aleppo for “breaking” America’s plan to “partition Syria.” Iranian officials have consistently voiced their opposition to any plan that breaks up the territory of present-day Syria. Jazayeri added:
    • “The experience of the Resistance and conflict in Syria and now in Aleppo has many lessons…. It shows that if a nation is determined, the enemy will not be able to stand up to the people, regardless of the strength of the enemy’s power.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Shamkhani meets with Russia’s special envoy on Syria. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Russia’s special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, in Tehran on December 18 in order to discuss Iranian-Russian cooperation in Syria after the fall of Aleppo. During the meeting, Shamkhani noted that “given the increasing political and military dimensions of the Syrian crisis… expanding discussions among Iranian, Russian, and Syrian officials is inevitable.” (Press TV
    • President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin also discussed the Syrian conflict and the “necessity of starting a realistic peace process” during a telephone conversation on December 19. The foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey will discuss developments in Syria in Moscow on December 20. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry: “Iran’s influence in Yemen is cultural and historical.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi discussed Iran’s position regarding the crisis in Yemen. He stated, “The al Saud regime’s displacement, starvation, attacks, and bombing [of the Yemeni people] must be stopped. We always have and will support the dialogue of Yemeni groups with other Yemeni groups at the negotiating table.” He added, “Iran does not have a presence in Yemen. Its influence is historical and cultural.” (Fars News Agency)    

Military & Security

  • IRGC soldier killed after clashes in Sistan and Baluchistan province. Iranian news agencies reported that one IRGC soldier was killed and another was wounded after clashing with a  “terrorist group” near the town of Saravan in Sistan and Baluchistan province. Sistan and Baluchistan province has witnessed multiple low-level clashes between security forces and armed groups in recent months. (Jamejam)

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani signs “citizen rights charter.” President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the importance of human rights during a ceremony unveiling a “citizen rights charter” on December 19. The charter includes protections for freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy and notes citizens’ rights to clean water. The charter is likely part of Rouhani’s outreach to reformist and moderate voters ahead of the May 2017 presidential elections. Rouhani promised a charter of human rights during his 2013 election campaign but focused his first term on economic issues, including the lifting of sanctions. The charter is not law, but Rouhani ordered its implementation and noted that it will be sent to Parliament. (Mehr News Agency)
    • Reformist leader: We will unite behind one candidate in presidential election. Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref, the head of the reformist-moderate “Hope” coalition, stressed the importance of unity to the reformist faction and noted that the faction will unite behind one candidate in the upcoming presidential election. Aref did not specify whether that candidate will be President Hassan Rouhani, who is expected to run for reelection, however. Reformist support for Rouhani, a moderate, was critical to his election in 2013. Aref added that “the most important challenge facing the country is the shortage of water.” (ANA)
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