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: President Hassan Rouhani highlighted his administration’s achievements and called on the Iranian nation to vote for a “powerful” Parliament in the 2016 elections.

President Rouhani urged voters to repeat the 2013 presidential elections in the 2016 parliamentary elections and called for a more “capable and powerful” Parliament. Rouhani reiterated that the government does not support political organizations and factional blocs. He also reinforced his position concerning the Guardian Council, stating that he recognizes and supports the institution’s role as defined in the Constitution.

Rouhani, meanwhile, defended his foreign policy record and claimed that Iran’s defense capabilities have grown stronger during the first two years of his presidency, than in the past decade. He said that, while Iran achieved victory in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations, it also showed strength by testing its “most important strategic missiles.” Rouhani also underlined the importance of free speech in universities, stressing: “One of the important places where powers should be criticized is the university and if power does not come into question in a country, it will be dragged into deviation and autocracy.” Rouhani is making a concerted effort to mobilize voters in support of his political allies for the upcoming parliamentary elections. 

Ali Akbar Velayati stated that Iran will not engage in direct talks with the U.S. regarding regional issues. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stressed that the Vienna negotiations on Syria does not mean that Iran is interested in reconciliation with America. Velayati also reiterated Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad and argued that Assad “is the legal government and the people voted for him and elected him less than two years ago.”

Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that Iran plans to purchase Russian military equipment, including T-90 tanks to use in “the proxy war environment.”

Matthew McInnis analyzes the Iranian leadership’s recent moves regarding Syrian President Bashar al Assad and outlines Iran’s parameters for an end-state in Syria should Assad step down in his most recent blog, “Could Iran live without Assad?

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani: The administration does not support any particular political faction. President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech on the occasion of national Student Day on December 7 in Tehran. Rouhani called for university students and professors to help  establish a consensus on concepts such as “justice, national sovereignty...[and] national interests.” Rouhani also stated:
    • “There is no authority in the Islamic Republic that is chosen without the people’s vote and saying that…there are two types of positions, appointed and elected, is insulting.”
    • “We are not infallible, but our [administration’s] efforts are aimed to serve the people and the country is taking steps towards success.”
    • “It is true that we must stand against others and solve our problems with domestic capabilities, but does this mean that we should not speak with the world and take our problems to the point of war? We stand against any possible conspiracy and win, but war should be the last choice.” 
    • Rouhani referred to certain Iranian officials’ claims about the administration’s weaknesses, stating, “The government’s actions over the past two years to strengthen and expand the country’s defense capabilities are equivalent to what has been done in the previous 10 years.”
    • “If our defense preparedness is not 100 percent, war will be imposed on us; therefore, along with the JCPOA victory, our most important strategic missiles were also tested.”
    • On the national economy: Rouhani referred to the 45 percent inflation rate at the beginning of his administration and noted, “Today we are in situation that this inflation rate is in single digits, meaning that we have reduced inflation [by] 36 percentage points during the last two years.”
    • On university culture: “If free speech in the space of science and research is not permitted in the university, we will not be able to achieve our objectives in scientific and cultural development… Universities must use the opportunity to interact with the scientific world…”
    • “One of the important places where powers should be criticized is the university. f power does not come into question in a country, it will be dragged into deviation and autocracy.”
    • On parliamentary elections: “How the next Parliament should be is a very important topic, but the administration does not pay attention to the elections.” Rouhani also stressed that the government does not favor a specific faction.
    • “Everyone must try to repeat the 92 [2013] saga in the year 94 [2016 parliamentary elections] so that we can have a capable and powerful Parliament.”
    • On the Guardian Council: “My opinion regarding the Guardian Council is similar to the Constitution; the Constitution views the Guardian Council as an observer. We [the administration] also recognize it as an observer.” ( (
  • Rafsanjani: The media are the ones who created division over the word “influence.”Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated, “The media outlets…which are managed by state money have created fuss and division over the word ‘influence;’ yet, the Supreme Leader’s perspective towards this issue has many sides.” The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman also criticized media outlets for attacking the Rouhani administration “because of partisan interests.” He dismissed critics of the IAEA report as just trying to create “disappointment” in society. (IRNA)
  • Mohammad Reza Aref: The attacks against reformists show how powerful we have become. Mohammad Reza Aref discussed the Reformists’ efforts ahead of the parliamentary elections during a meeting with student groups. The former First Vice President under President Mohammad Khatami claimed that the recent spate of attacks on reformist gatherings “show that the status of reformists has worried some people.” Protesters have increasingly disrupted public rallies and speeches by Reformist politicians in recent months. On November 19, protestors physically attacked Hojjat ol Eslam Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, the former Interior Minister under President Khatami, during a political rally in Varamim city, Tehran province. (ISNA) (Aftab News)


Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Najafi: The IAEA report has some negative points. Reza Najafi claimed that Iran is currently “in a precise review of [the IAEA’s] report and is composing a written assessment of the IAEA report.” Iran’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA Board of Governors added that Iran “will present this report according to paragraph 9 of the IAEA-Iran roadmap.” Najafi added: 
    • “The report had some negative points…such as the claims at the end of the report about [our implementation] of scientific studies relevant [to the development of a nuclear weapon].”
    • “Some of the claims have not been confirmed despite the fact that Amano’s report was about the lack of any deviation in Iran’s nuclear program and the cancellation of all the claims of the past 12 years regarding the existence of a weaponized nuclear program.”
    • “Our focus now is on the P5+1 resolution and the closing of this issue at the IAEA board of governors.” (ILNA)
  • Shamkhani: The IAEA report confirms that our nuclear program is peaceful. Ali Shamkhani discussed the IAEA report during a meeting with Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khali in Tehran. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary stated, “Although the report sometimes is unacceptable and imperfect, there are paragraphs that confirm there was no deviation in the peaceful nuclear program of the Islamic Republic.” Shamkhani stressed Iran’s continued support for Lebanon and added:
    • “The precise approach of the Lebanese resistance against the takfiri movements that are operating in Syria has decreased the influence and operations of extremist groups in Lebanon. We are hopeful that the continuation of this trend will cause even greater security for Lebanon.” (IRIB)
  • Shariatmadari: How is the IAEA report positive for us? Hossein Shariatmadari criticized the IAEA’s report in an editorial. The Managing Editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan wrote:
    • “The IAEA report is a document even more dangerous than the JCPOA…If the IAEA report  is accepted by Iran—as unfortunately the statements made by our country’s officials seem to indicate—it will be turned into an international document and it will be enough to restrict the future of  Iran’s nuclear program.”
    • Shariatmadari noted that the report indicates that “the comments and arguments presented by Iran” regarding its nuclear program were “untrue.” Shariatmadari added that “therefore, the Americans are able to extend the period of the JCPOA’s implementation from 15 and 25 years to eternity.”
    • Shariatmadari urged government officials to “clearly and forcibly” express their opposition to this report. (Entekhab)
  • Dehghan reacts to recent IAEA report. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan responded to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s recent report on Iran’s nuclear program. The Defense Minister stated, “This report states that we do not have any secret center; however, they claim that in the past some of our centers were hidden. Certainly, they should be held accountable to the Iranian people in this regard.” Dehghan continued, “Now, what is important to us is demonstrating the peacefulness of our nuclear activities and the world accepting our nuclear energy; we are ready to implement the JCPOA.” (Basij News Agency)
  • Bahonar discusses closing the PMD issue. During a ceremony commemorating the December 7 anniversary of Student Day, Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Bahonar stated, “Closing the PMD issue is the P5+1’s first test and will show whether they stand on their commitment or not; if the PMD [issue] remains in any way, the JCPOA is not the JCPOA!” He continued, “Of course, it should be noted that the [lifting of] sanctions solves 30 to 40 percent of the problem; the remaining 60 to 70 percent requires tact and wisdom, and we must proceed with courage in this area.” (ISNA)


Military and Security

  • Pourdastan: We are interested in purchasing T-90 tanks from Russia. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters that “Russia is ready to provide the necessary support and assistance in various defense and equipment areas that are needed by the Islamic Republic.” The Artesh Ground Forces Commander added, “Certainly, one of the things that is on the agenda of the Artesh Ground Forces is purchasing T-90 tanks [from Russia] and light weapons and equipment, which we will need in the proxy war environment.” Pourdastan added that he was satisfied with “the implementation process of the S-300 contract.” (Defa Press)
  • FATA arrests 53 “ISIS supporters.” Iranian Cyber Police (FATA) Chief IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Kamal Hadianfar told reporters that FATA has arrested 53 “ISIS supporters” in the past twenty months. Hadianfar added that FATA had identified and blocked 132 pro-ISIS websites in the same period. (ISNA)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Velayati: Iran’s participation in the Syria talks does not mean reconciliation with America. Ali Akbar Velayati discussed the ongoing negotiations on Syria and Iran-U.S. relations in an interview on December 5. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor reiterated Iran’s opposition to negotiating with the U.S. on regional matters and stated, “We do not intend to deal with America, and our presence in the Vienna talks was due to the presence of 17 other countries in these negotiations.” Velayati also highlighted Tehran-Moscow cooperation in Syria and IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s consultations with Russian officials over the Syrian crisis. He emphasized that high-level meetings between Iranian and Russian authorities are “quite natural” and are part of a growing Tehran-Moscow alliance. Velayati also stressed that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “is the legal government and the people voted for him and elected him less than two years ago.” (Entekhab) (IRNA(E)
  • Larijani meets with Lebanese Finance Minister. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khali in Tehran. During the meeting, Larijani stressed the need for unity among Muslims and added that “the Islamic Republic will always support [Lebanon] in all situations…We consider it our duty to defend Lebanon against the Zionist regime.” (ICANA
  • Deputy foreign ministers attend JCPOA Joint Commission meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi and Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi attended a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, on December 7. Araghchi and Takht Ravanchi also held a bilateral meeting with EU Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid in Vienna on December 6. The two deputy foreign ministers also held a bilateral meeting with the Chinese delegation on December 6. (Mehr News)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC member killed in Syria. Mohammad Ahmadi was reported to have been a member of the IRGC Imam Sadegh unit, which is based in Bushehr province. He will be buried in Bushehr province. No information on his rank was reported. (Entekhab)



  • Iran and South Korea to launch joint shipbuilding venture. Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex Company (ISOICO) Managing Director Hamid Rezaian told reporters that ISOICO and Hyundai have reached an agreement to launch a joint shipbuilding venture. (Press TV) (E)
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