Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

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: Senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi announced that the IAEA Board of Governors will vote to close the PMD file on Tehran’s nuclear program on December 15.

Abbas Araghchi confirmed that the P5+1 submitted its draft resolution to the IAEA Board of Governors for a vote to declare that the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program have been resolved. The Deputy Foreign Minister stated that the December 15 vote will close the PMD file, clearing the way for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Mohammad Bagher Nobakht announced that the budget plan, in conjunction with the 6th Five-Year Development Plan will be presented to Parliament in the coming weeks. The Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President also echoed the sentiments of senior Iranian officials concerning the PMD issue and warned that Iran “will not implement the JCPOA” if the PMD file is not “closed by December 15.”

Rhetorical attacks between Tehran and Ankara continued with several Iranian lawmakers voicing their condemnation of Turkey’s actions in the region, including its decision to deploy military forces to Iraq.

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?

Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Araghchi: The IAEA Board of Governors will vote on the PMD file on December 15. Abbas Araghchi discussed the procedural steps to “close the PMD file” during an interview with state TV. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs stated that the P5+1 has a draft resolution ready to present to the IAEA Board of Governors and told reporters that the Board of Governors will vote on the resolution on December 15. He added that the draft is “completely clear; according to it, they will clearly and directly close the issue of the PMD… and the draft cancels the previous 12 resolutions against Iran…” (IRIB)
     
  • Velayati: Iran will not accept new claims on its nuclear program. Ali Akbar Velayati addressed the press about the West potentially trying to renew the PMD file after the JCPOA is implemented. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stressed that any effort by the West to open a new PMD file will not be accepted by Iran. (YJC)
     
  • Iran calls for the removal of IAEA resolutions. Reza Najafi stated that the P5+1’s draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear program should lead to the closure of the Iran’s PMD file. Iran's Permanent Representative to the IAEA Board of Governors referred to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and claimed, “As it can be seen, the P5+1—in accordance with Article 14 of the JCPOA—has submitted the draft resolution for the purposes of closing the PMD issue.” Najafi also referred to Article 11 of the draft resolution and stated:
    • “According to Article 11, upon the implementation of the JCPOA, all 12 Board of Governors resolutions, including the two PMD-related resolutions in November 2011 and September 2012, shall be terminated.” (Mehr News Agency) (Mehr News Agency(E)
       
  • Zakani criticizes IAEA report. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani criticized the IAEA’s December 2 report on Iran’s PMD file. Zakani called the report “the blackest report that has been issued against Iran so far” and labelled it “bitter and incorrect.” He specifically criticized assertions in the report that there were “non-peaceful” elements to Iran’s nuclear program before 2003. Zakani claimed that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s “viewpoint in this report has been prepared. It is an indicator that a view of suspicion also exists regarding Iran, and the IAEA’s report was not independent… Of course, I believe that [the IAEA] will go in the direction of closing Iran’s PMD file because they do not want to obstruct their investments that were created after the JCPOA. But they are preserving this black point illogically in Iran’s file in order to create excuses in the future.”
    • Zakani also accused the Reformists, specifically Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former President Mohammad Khatami, of attempting to create “divisions among the Principlists.” (Tasnim News Agency)
       
  • Parliamentarians file complaint against Rouhani. Twenty-three parliamentarians submitted a written complaint against President Hassan Rouhani to Parliament’s Board of Directors on December 8. The complaint calls for Rouhani to respond “decisively and clearly” to the “baseless charges against Iran” in the IAEA’s December 2 report on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. (Farhang News)

 

Economy

  • Nobakht: We will present the budget and the 6th Five-Year Development Plan within the next few weeks. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht discussed the drafting of the 6th Five-Year Development Plan and the annual budget during a press conference. The Rouhani administration spokesman stated:
    • On the budget: “The government was able to present next year’s budget on December 6; however, because the Parliament insisted that we present the 6th Five-Year Development Plan at the same time as the budget, we were not able to present the budget at that time…. We have told the Parliament, however, that we will present next year’s budget at the same time as the Five-Year Development Plan.” 
    • On the IAEA report: “The PMD file must be closed by December 15. We will not implement the JCPOA if this date is not met due to the position specified by the Supreme Leader.”
    • “In total, this report shows the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”
    • On Erdo?an’s warning to President Rouhani: “I am saying very clearly that the statements made by [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdo?an are not correct and are questionable.”
    • “In a telephone conversation this past month between President Hassan Rouhani and President Erdo?an, Erdo?an voiced his worry that one of the media outlets in Iran had written something about him and his family.”
    • “President Rouhani responded that the media writes things about everyone; here they even write things about government officials since we have democracy and there is free speech in Iran. However, no threat was made.” During a televised speech on December 3, the Turkish president claimed that he had warned Rouhani about "participating in Russian slander" after Iranian news outlets circulated reports claiming that Erdo?an's family profits from the oil trade with ISIS. (YJC)

 

Domestic Politics

  • Zakani is denied opportunity to address university students. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani issued a statement in response to the cancellation of an open forum scheduled for December 8 at the Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch in Tehran. Zakani criticized the cancellation request as a political move and asked, “Under the present circumstances, why can anti-revolutionary and non-academic elements—with their presence—confuse the minds of students, but the possibility of enlightenment and accountability from the defenders of the Islamic Revolution…is taken away?” Zakani also stated:
    • “Does attention to the deep culture of the university—from which [Islamic Azad University] derives its name—have preference over the lack of culture and neglect of values?”
    • “Is transparency and accountability not better than concealing affairs from the university students and faculty?”
    • “Unfortunately, the wrong policy of the university management denied my presence and service to the students and teachers of Islamic University of Mashhad, Rasht, and Tehran Science and Research University.” (Tasnim News Agency)
       
  • Judiciary Head criticizes strategy to bypass Guardian Council vetting. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani reportedly stated that “some are trying to pressure the Guardian Council to accept their candidates” for the 2016 parliamentary elections by submitting “such a [great] amount of candidates” that the Guardian Council cannot vet them all. The Judiciary Head criticized such a strategy as “incorrect.” (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Moghaddam: The Principlist clerical meetings have ended. Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam discussed efforts in the Principlist faction ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections during a news interview. The Combatant Clergy Association Spokesman claimed that the meetings between Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, and Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, which were originally intended to foster unity in the Principlist faction, have ended without “any specific result.” (Khabar Online)
     
  • Kermani reacts to Moghaddam’s interview. Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani criticized Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam for having an interview “with a news site that tries to create divisions among the Principlists.” The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader reportedly scolded Moghaddam in person and stated that “the unity process for the Principlists is hopeful and our friends must not have divisive interviews.” (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Fedaei: The unity of the Principlist movement depends on Kermani, Mohammad Yazdi, and Mesbah Yazdi. Former Principlist Parliamentarian Hossein Fedaei discussed the Principlists’ efforts ahead of the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during a press conference. The Secretary General of the Society of Self-Sacrificers of the Islamic Revolution stressed that unity among the Principlists “is only possible with the arbitration of the three prominent individuals from the clergy [Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, and Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi].” Fedaei also added:
    • “We are opposed to any type of divisiveness that threatens the unity of the Principlists and we hope that the news about the creation of a new political party among the Principlist front is incorrect.”
    • “I consider it unlikely that [Parliament Speaker Ali] Larijani or Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadai is intentionally trying to bring division between the Principlists; what is published in the news is that some want to create a political party…but I consider this unlikely.” (Mehr News)
       
  • Executive Secretary of the Moderation and Development Party discusses Hassan Khomeini’s candidacy. Morteza Bank said that the Moderation and Development Party encouraged Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to run for a position on the Assembly of Experts. The Executive Secretary of the Moderation and Development Party added that “fortunately, he did not reject the invitation.” Elections to the Assembly of Experts are scheduled for February 2016. (Entekhab)
     
  • Montakhab Nia: We are not forming a coalition with Larijani or Nategh Nouri. Deputy of the Reformist National Trust Party Rasoul Montakhab Nia dismissed rumors that the Reformist camp is attempting to form a coalition with “prominent Principlists,” including Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Advisor to the Supreme Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri. Montakhab Nia added that “according to rumors,” Mohammad Reza Aref, the former First Vice President under President Mohammad Khatami, will run in the parliamentary elections as a Reformist. (Mehr News Agency)   

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Parliamentarians criticize Turkey’s moves in the region. A number of parliamentarians voiced their criticism of Turkey’s actions in the region, including the “illegal arrival” of Turkish forces in Iraq.
    • Parliamentarian Nozar Sharif claimed that the Turkish army “personally serves” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and not “the interests of the Turkish people.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member added that Turkey targeted the Russian warplane because the jet had “targeted the oil tankers of President Erdo?an’s son.”
    • Parliamentarian Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani claimed that “Turkey’s strategy” will have a “huge cost for the country. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission member added that “Turkey’s decision to dispatch a division to Iraq…shows that these issues [in Turkey’s foreign policy] are due to mistakes in Turkey’s strategy.” Arani added, “Without a doubt, all the countries must respect the sovereignty of neighboring countries, in particular bordering countries.”
    • Principlist Parliamentarian Hossein Sobhani Nia condemned Turkey’s “violation of Iraq’s sovereignty” and called for “these forces to leave Iraq as soon as possible.” The NSFP Parliamentary Commission member claimed that Turkey shot down the Russian jet “under the influence of some countries in the region.”
    • Principlist Parliamentarian Avaz Heidar Pour called for NATO to condemn Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission member also urged Turkey to “apologize” for the incident.
    • Principlist Parliamentarian Haghighat Pour claimed that Turkey had started “a risky game” in the region. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission member urged Russia “to not answer Turkey militarily… because the region needs stability to get rid of ISIS.” (ICANA)
       
  • Velayati meets with Lebanese Minister of Finance Minister. Ali Akbar Velayati underscored the strong bilateral relations between Tehran and Beirut in a meeting with Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil on December 8 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor also promoted expanded relations in all sectors, including economic cooperation. (ISNA)
     
  • Abdollahian says negotiations on Syria are “constructive.” Hossein Amir Abdollahian described the Vienna talks on Syria as “constructive” and expressed optimism in the steps taken to resolve the Syrian crisis. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated, “These efforts can be effective when the realities of Syria and the region are taken into consideration and lead to simultaneous reinforcement of the fight against terrorism and progress in the political trend.” (MFA(E)
     
  • Zarif and Lavrov hold telephone conversation. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during a telephone conversation. (Press TV)
     
  • Zarif arrives in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Pakistan to attend the “Heart of Asia” conference, which is intended to enhance cooperation for countering security threats in the region. (Tabnak)

 

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Seven Pakistanis buried in Qom. The bodies of seven Pakistanis killed in Syria were buried in Qom. Their ranks and unit affiliations were not reported, but it is likely that they were members of the Pakistani Shi'a militia Zainabiyoun Brigade. (Defa Press)

 

Military and Security

  • Fadavi discusses parameters of “guarding” the Islamic Revolution. IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi stated, “Safeguarding the Islamic Revolution is as safeguarding Islam itself, and is not limited to a particular geography…” The IRGC Navy Commander also stated, “Despite the fact that America and the “global arrogance’s” enmity has not subsided for a moment, the Islamic Revolution has gained strength and power; today, Islamic Revolutionary thought stands against and confronts ‘arrogance’ everywhere.” (Basij Press
     
  • Sayyari discusses senior Chinese military delegation’s upcoming visit. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated that Iran welcomed representatives from the militaries of 40 different countries on the occasion of the November 28 anniversary of Navy Day. The Artesh Navy Commander also noted that a senior Chinese military delegation will visit Iran next week. (Defa Press
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