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: Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani disclosed that Iran and Russia share a military facility in Syria, highlighting the depth of Iranian-Russian military cooperation in support of the Assad regime.

Shamkhani stated that Iran and Russia share a military base “where Iran conducts its advisory mission to help the Syrian army and [pro-regime] resistance forces with Russia’s assistance.” Russian and Iranian-backed forces have been reported to be co-located at several locations in Syria. Shamkhani’s language on Iranian military “basing” reflects an important ideological shift for Iranian officials, who have typically avoided characterizing Iran’s military operations abroad in such formal terms, however. Shamkhani added that Iran and Russia cooperate in order “to design the military aspect of the counter-terrorism fight.” Iranian-Russian cooperation has also been crucial in enabling advances by pro-regime forces in recent months, particularly around the northern city of Aleppo.

AEI Must-Reads

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • SNSC secretary: Iran and Russia share a military base in Syria. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani stated that Iran and Russia share a military base “where Iran conducts its advisory mission to help the Syrian army and [pro-regime] resistance forces with Russia’s assistance.” Shamkhani added that Iran and Russia “work together to design the military aspect of the counter-terrorism fight… Russia is our ally in the fight against terrorism.” Shamkhani is reportedly the chief official “responsible for coordinating Iran’s political, military, and security efforts with Syria and Russia.”
    • Shamkhani also criticized the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2328, which calls for international observers to monitor evacuations from eastern Aleppo. Shamkhani claimed that the resolution “lays the groundwork for the entrance of intelligence operatives to support terrorism under the cover of [international] observers.” He added, “Unfortunately, some governments in the region and beyond consider the use of terrorism as a way to achieve their strategic goals. This resolution reflects this thinking.” (ISNA)
  • Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, and Turkey meet in Moscow. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu met in Moscow on December 20 to discuss the situation in Syria. In a joint statement released after the meeting, the three sides expressed their support for the UN’s efforts to resolve the crisis by means of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, a resolution passed in 2015 calling for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria. The statement also noted that the three countries “emphasize their joint determination to fight ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra... and the armed opposition groups.” Lavrov also stated that the three countries are ready to act as “guarantors” of any agreement reached between the combatants in the Syrian Civil War. (Tasnim News Agency
    • Russian and Iranian defense ministers meet. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu and Iranian Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan met in Moscow on December 20 to discuss cooperation in Syria. (Tasnim News Agency) (Mehr News Agency
  • Iran to reduce annual heavy water exports. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi announced that Iran will reduce its annual heavy water exports to 20 tonnes due to an “oversupply” in international markets. That amount is significantly lower than the 70 tonnes Iran has sold this year, according to Kamalvandi. Iran’s heavy water production will likely continue to be a contentious point between Iran and the U.S. Iran’s heavy water stockpile has exceeded the 130 metric tons permitted under the nuclear deal twice since Iran began implementing the deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although Iran promptly exported its excess heavy water in both instances, Iranian officials have argued that the nuclear deal’s cap on its heavy water production is an estimate rather than a hard limit and that Iran is only required to offer its excess heavy water up for sale. The U.S. instead asserts that the cap is a hard limit and that Iran must remove the excess heavy water from the country to comply with restrictions. (Alef)
  • Nuclear deal’s Joint Commission to meet on January 10. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the spokesman for Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission, stated that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the NSFP Commission that the nuclear deal’s Joint Commission will meet on January 10 to discuss the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). Iran and the P5+1 established the Joint Commission to handle disputes over the deal’s implementation. Iranian officials incorrectly claim that the ISA’s renewal violates the nuclear agreement. Naghavi Hosseini also claimed that the ISA is considered a “violation” of the accord because “the non-implementation of the ISA was a component of our agreement” in the nuclear negotiations. He added, however, that Iran, Russia, and China are emphasizing the “continuation and implementation” of the nuclear deal rather than the unraveling of it. (Fars News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry closes consulates, keeps embassy open in Turkey. Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced that its embassy in Ankara will remain open following the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov in Ankara on December 19. Iran’s consulates in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Trabzon, and Erzurum closed today, however. The Foreign Ministry also issued a travel warning discouraging Iranian citizens from “unnecessary travel” to Turkey. (Fararu) (Tasnim News Agency

Military & Security

  • ISIS leader reportedly arrested. West Azerbaijan Governor Ghorban Ali Saadat claimed that security forces “arrested an ISIS leader and his agents.” Saadat did not specify the time or exact location of the arrest, but rumors indicate the arrest occurred in Orumiyeh, West Azerbaijan province. (Alef)
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