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 Shayda Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Key takeaway: Iran confirmed that it passed a major milestone in the nuclear agreement’s implementation by shipping parts of its low-enriched uranium stockpile to Russia.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed that Iran has received approximately 197 tons of yellowcake from Russia in exchange for 11 tons of enriched uranium, marking a major milestone in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). U.S. officials previously reported that a ship transporting more than 11 tons of low-enriched uranium materials departed Iran for Russia on December 28. The fuel transfer fulfills Iran’s obligation to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium below 300 kilograms and moves Iran one step closer to Implementation Day, when the IAEA verifies that Iran has complied with its technical obligations under the nuclear deal and sanctions are lifted.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech condemning U.S. policy in the Middle East during the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on December 29. Khamenei called the notion that the U.S. holds a pro-Sunni and anti-Shia stance a “lie” and asserted that the U.S. is opposed to all Muslims and Islam itself. When U.S. officials began differentiating rhetorically between Sunnis and Shias, Khamenei maintained, it became “clear” that they were pursuing “a new and more dangerous plot than before” by seeking to sow discord among Muslims.
At least 175 parliamentarians have signed a draft bill that calls for the U.S. to compensate Iran for “damages” inflicted against it, including sanctions and the CIA-orchestrated 1953 coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The bill is likely a response to recent U.S. legislation providing financial compensation to Americans held captive during the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Senior Iranian officials also criticized Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran v. Peterson, an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case in which victims of terrorist attacks allegedly linked to Iran are seeking to recover U.S.-held assets of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) as compensation.
Matthew McInnis critiques the argument that the U.S. should hasten sanctions relief in order to empower moderate Iranian leaders or avoid raising the ire of hardliners in his latest blog post, “The U.S. can’t play Iranian domestic politics.”
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Salehi: We have received around 197 tons of yellowcake from Russia. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran has received around 197 tons of yellowcake from Russia in exchange for 11 tons of enriched uranium, marking a major milestone in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. (Entekhab)
- AEOI: We will construct two new reactors with Russia after the New Year. Behrouz Kamalvandi walked back his previous comments that Iran and Russia will begin construction on two new nuclear reactors in Iran this week, presumably at the Bushehr nuclear plant. The AEOI Spokesman stated that Iran is still in the process of negotiating with Russia in order to construct two new reactors “at the first possible opportunity following the New Year holidays” in January. (YJC)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Khamenei criticizes U.S.’s “new and more dangerous plot.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East at the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran on December 29. The conference began on December 27 with attendees including Iranian officials and ambassadors from various “Islamic countries.”
- Khamenei dismissed “statements from an American official that America’s enemy is [only] Islamism.” Khamenei claimed that the U.S. is instead “opposed to the essence of Islam.” He added that one “must not be fooled by their statements in support of some sects… For the Americans, Shia and Sunni make no difference. They are opposed to any Muslim who wants to live according to Islamic law and order and struggles for it.”
- Khamenei claimed that the U.S.’s “support for Sunnis and opposition to Shias is a lie” and pointed to Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank, who are “subject to invasion and aggression” despite being Sunni. He stated, “Once the words ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’ started to be used in the literature of American officials and politicians, people of knowledge and expertise became worried, for it was clear that they [the Americans] are pursuing a new and more dangerous plot than before.”
- Khamenei referred to the U.S.’s “creation” of terrorist groups including ISIS as evidence that “current U.S. officials are against the essence of Islam. Contrary to the remarks they make, they are seeking to create discord among Muslims.”
- Khamenei claimed that the West’s “main goal” is to “create internal wars among Muslims and destroy the infrastructures of Muslim states such as Syria, Yemen, and Libya” in order to “prevent the establishment of a modern Islamic civilization.” He identified “pressure on the Muslims of Bahrain” and “the situation in Iraq” as means to reach this goal as well.
- Khamenei claimed that the West is working to create discord in order to “prevent the establishment” of a “modern Islamic civilization.” He added that a condition for creating such a civilization is to “shorten the superpowers’ shadow” over Muslim nations. He added, “Of course this is costly, but reaching great goals without paying the price is impossible.” (Leader.ir)
Parliamentarians sign draft bill demanding U.S. compensation. At least 175 parliamentarians have signed a draft bill calling for the U.S. to compensate Iran for “damages” inflicted against it. Among the bill’s provisions are demands that the U.S. compensate "the more than 223,000 individuals martyred and the 600,000 individuals injured" in the Iran-Iraq War due to the U.S.’s “intelligence, political, and military cooperation" with Saddam Hussein. The bill also refers to the “loss of life and property” in the CIA-led 1953 coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstalled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as king. In addition to seeking compensation for sanctions against Iran on shipping and “passenger aircraft” that are “contrary to international norms,” the bill also demands compensation for Iranian victims of the September 24 Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia due to “America’s protection and support of Saudi Arabia.” The bill follows recent U.S. legislation providing financial compensation for former hostages held captive for 444 days during the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. (Fars News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
Officials react to case on compensation for victims of alleged Iran-linked terror attacks. Ali Larijani reacted to Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran v. Peterson, an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case in which victims of terrorist attacks allegedly linked to Iran are seeking to receive U.S.-held assets of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) as compensation. The Parliament Speaker called the lawsuit “oppressive” and stated that the U.S. “will definitely hear an answer for their action; we are planning something in this regard.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani also censured the lawsuit, stating, “One cannot ratify a new law or procedure every day [allowing]... illegal theft of the people of Iran while making beautiful speeches of trust and goodwill.” (Fars News Agency)
Rouhani praises anti-Green Movement protests. President Hassan Rouhani addressed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and government officials during a speech at the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran. Rouhani called the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections “a test of global magnitude.” Rouhani praised the December 30, 2009 pro-government protests organized against the Green Movement as “the day of the defense of the political system, law, the guardianship of the jurist, and the Supreme Leader.” Rouhani also stated, “If Muslim-majority nations came together to think about common Muslim issues, regional problems would be easily resolved.” (President.ir)
Tavakkoli: There is not enough time for a “fair and just” review of electoral candidates. Principlist Parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli released a statement in response to Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati’s Friday Prayer sermon. Tavakkoli noted that due to “severe time restrictions,” a “fair and just” review of candidate qualifications will not be possible in this election cycle. Tavakkoli noted that this would be a detriment to “those individuals who possess the needed qualifications.” (ISNA)
Chief prosecutor praises high number of electoral candidates. Hojjat ol Eslam Ebrahim Raisi called the unprecedented number of candidates in elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts “a manifestation of national security” and an opportunity to “disappoint the enemy.” A total of 801 candidates registered for elections to the Assembly of Experts and 12,123 to Parliament this year, compared to 493 and 5,283 respectively in previous elections. The Chief Prosecutor also discussed the disputed 2009 presidential elections that re-elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Raisi dismissed accusations of “fraud,” stating that “no document has been produced proving this claim.” He also praised Iranians for “not being deceived by velvet revolutions,” referring to nonviolent regime change. (ISNA)
Larijani highlights anniversary of 2009 pro-government protests. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani commemorated the December 30 anniversary of the 2009 pro-government protests against the Green Movement. The Judiciary Head called the December 30 protests “a spontaneous movement caused by the insight and self-awareness… of the people.” Larijani also reacted to the U.S.’s recent efforts to provide financial compensation to the victims of the Iranian hostage crisis and terrorist attacks such as the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing as well as to restrict visa waivers to Iranian dual nationals and people who have recently traveled to Iran. Larijani called these efforts “betrayals and abuses, [and] a kind of violation of the [JCPOA] contract…” Larijani said that the ongoing lawsuit to compensate victims of the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing and other attacks with frozen Iranian bank assets is “America’s encroachment on Iran’s banking assets” and a “mischievous and noteworthy” action. (Mehr News Agency)
Kowsari: This administration should be termed the “stagnation and pollution” administration. Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the Rouhani administration’s economic and policies during an interview with Tasnim News Agency, stating, “Stagnation exists in the country, and the administration could easily remove stagnation with a simple plan that adheres to the Resistance Economy doctrine.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member also blamed President Hassan Rouhani for failing to deal adequately with the worsening air quality in Tehran, stating that the administration has “not presented a single plan on this issue.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Parliamentarians issue statement to Rouhani on air pollution. One hundred and six parliamentarians released a statement requesting that the Rouhani administration take “practical steps” to confront the “unprecedented” air pollution in Tehran. (Asiran)