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 Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underscored regime expectations of reaching a nuclear agreement, and highlighted Iran’s insistence on a one-step deal.  

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that “there are important issues in our [nuclear] discussions…if we agree on them, reaching a full agreement is not a problem.” Zarif also stated that the EU’s move to put the National Iranian Tanker Company back on a list of sanctioned entities does not violate the JPOA’s statute against introducing new sanctions, but that as long as Westerners continue to insist on sanctions in this way, “it would not seem that there is a possibility of reaching a serious understanding.”  Zarif’s comments reinforce regime expectations that there could be a deal and clarify concerns that the Supreme Leader and other regime players have brought up about a two-step deal.

Bi-lateral U.S.-Iran talks will continue tomorrow. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Sunday and Monday in Geneva for the beginning of the next round of P5+1 negotiations.

Following last week’s unveiling of the Seqeh-2 fighter jets for the Artesh Air Force, MODAFL Aerospace Industries Organization Managing Director Brig. Gen. 2C Abdol Karim Bani Turuf stated, “We also plan to build new fighter jets.” Bani Turuf also described the Saeqeh-2 as “two-cabin” and “more advanced than Saeqeh-1,” with upgraded “electronic equipment.” 


Official Statements

  • Zarif: Nuclear talks to continue until June to reach an agreement on all details. In response to a question about Iran’s insistence on a one-step agreement, the Foreign Minister said that this is not a new viewpoint and it was one which he stressed in Vienna. In response to a “question of what the Islamic Republic’s position on the West’s possible sabotage’s relationship to continuing the nuclear negotiations process...,” Zarif stated I do not need to be worried about the relationship of these obstructions; the issue is a controversial work, and we will follow the same framework…. I think that there are important issues in our discussions – if we agree on them, reaching a full agreement is not a problem.” He also said that, “If the other side wants to be greedy, we have no problem showing the world that the Islamic Republic wants a good and reasonable agreement.” If a final agreement is not reached, Zarif said, it will be because either the other side does not have the political will, or they do not have the political capability to stand up against Israel and other political pressures, or because they want to be greedy. In each of these cases he said, eventually the other side will not be able to continue imposing sanctions on Iran.
    • In response to the question of whether the EU’s move to put the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) back on a list of sanctioned entities violates the JPOA’s statue not to impose new sanctions on Iran, Zarif stated, “This sanction is not new… from a legal standpoint, we cannot say much that this violates the Geneva [JPOA] agreement.” He continued, “…this work of theirs is contrary to reason, because the Westerners have not yet come to understand that sanctions themselves, instead of capital, are a kind of fee that cannot advance their goals.” “As long as this is the thinking of the Europeans and the Americans, it would not seem that there is a possibility of reaching a serious understanding; because they think that their sanctions are effective; if you really think these sanctions are effective, why are we talking?! Sanctions [would] continue.” He continued, “they must sanction or negotiate…” (Mehr News)
  • Najafi: New IAEA report indicates “full transparency” from Iran. Reza Najafi said that the first 2015 IAEA report indicated Iran’s “full transparency”, and criticized IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s comments on the remaining two of the five actions of the JPOA. Iran’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA stated, “the report is another sign that all of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities continue under IAEA supervision.”
    • Najafi claimed that although it was unnecessary and despite NAM’s opposition to it, the detailed report on the materials and equipment indicated Iran’s “full transparency” of its “peaceful nuclear program” and that Iran has acted in accordance with the JPOA. He further said that while some statistics have changed, “90% of the report is a duplicate” of the previous report. “The only new point in the report was the meeting with IAEA General Director Yuki Amano at the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.”
    • Najafi also said that the allegations on the Probable Military Dimensions (PMD) were “baseless” and continue to lack credibility.
    • On the 5 actions of the JPOA: “Most of the actions have been completed,” and Iran has made progress by voluntarily giving access to the site at the “region of Marivan.” He said that no further explanation was needed. Furthermore, countries were providing false information to the IAEA and the agency must admit its mistake.
    • Najafi said that Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi travelled to Geneva Friday to conduct bilateral talks with the U.S. and will meet with Amano on Tuesday. (Fars News Agency)
  • Ayatollah Mohavedi Kermani: “The people of Yemen have broken the back of their enemy.” Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader and Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) member Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani warned the people of Yemen to beware of enemy plots and congratulated them on their resistance. On the topic of elections in Iran, Mohavedi Kermani said, “People should be appointed to the Assembly of Experts who throughout their entire existence have obeyed the Guardianship.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Deputy Qods Force Commander: there is an “anti-Israel” wave in the region. Qods Force Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani said that Lebanese Hezbollah have been teaching the “struggle” to the entire free world and that an “anti-Israel” wave has launched in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and other countries in the region. Ghani added that, “Israel is on the verge of defeat.” (Defa Press)
  • Vahidi: No state or military apparatus will interfere in elections. Former Defense Minister commented on recent legislation passed by the Expediency Council which would prohibit servicemen from entering elections saying, “This is not special.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi stressed that no device including that of the military and state apparatus shall tendentiously interfere in the elections. Vahidi added that this legislation has phases and will not be enforced until the notification of the Supreme Leader. According to Fars News, legislation passed on February 14 forbidding members of the Artesh, IRGC, Police Force, Intelligence and Security Services, and Basij from participating in elections and advocating on the part of candidates. (Fars News Agency)
  • Amir Abdollahian: “Terrorism has no place in the future of Syria.” Hossein Amir Abdollahian congratulated the Syrian people on their recent victories in the fight against terrorism in Aleppo and said that “terrorism has no place in the future of Syria.” The Deputy Foreign Minister of Arabic and African Affairs stressed that only a “genuine political solution” can resolve the conflict. (Mehr News)
  • Heydari: Transfer of Sacred Defense values to youth important.  In the third gathering of the  Storytellers of the ‘Sacred Defense’ [Iran-Iraq War], Artesh Ground Forces Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Kiomars Heydari said that the transfer of values of the ‘Sacred Defense’ was a cultural and promotional undertaking. Heydari said that it was the mission of everyone, especially storytellers, to preserve and transfer these values to the youth. (Defa Press)


Military and Security

  • Beit al Moghaddas and Kosar Battalions to participate in Tehran search and rescue exercises. 20 Beit al Moghaddas Battalions and 23 Kosar Battalions of the Mohammad Raoul Allah unit of Greater Tehran will conduct a search and rescue exercise in Tehran and the Lavasanat district of Tehran province from February 24 to 26.  “Basij offices and factories, municipalities, the medical community… and scholars in the Greater Tehran IRGC… will attend” “for observation and cooperation,” along with several relief organizations such as fire and emergency organizations. (Defa Press)
    • “Toward Beit al-Moghaddas 3” exercises take place in Semnan province. 27 Beit al Moghaddas Basij Battalions from Semnan province are participating in the two-day event ending on February 20 in Qods Camps and other public areas, including the Qods Camp of Semnan throughout the province. (Defa Press)
  • MODAFL: more fighter jets in the works. While commenting on MODAFL’s unveiling last week of the new Saeqeh-2 fighter jet for the Artesh Air Force, Brig. Gen. 2C Abdol Karim Bani Turuf stated, “We also plan to build new fighter jets.” MODAFL Aerospace Industries Organization Managing Director stated, “…new hunting and training fighter jets will be unveiled soon.” Bani Turuf also described the Saeqeh-2 as “two-cabin” and “more advanced than Saeqeh-1,” with upgraded “electronic equipment.” (Defa Press)


Nuclear Talks

  • Bi-lateral U.S.-Iran talks continue. Deputy and expert-level talks between Iran and the U.S. have ended and are scheduled to resume tomorrow. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi and Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-Ravanchi met with U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman today. EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and her Deputy Helga Schmid will represent the EU on Sunday February 22. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Sunday and Monday in Geneva. (Fars News Agency)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Tajik Interior Minister visits Tehran.  Tajikistan’s Minister of the Interior Maj. Gen. Ramadan Rahimzadeh met Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on February 18 in Tehran to discuss cooperation in combatting organized crime, terrorism, money laundering, weapons smuggling, border security between the two countries, and securing their respective borders with Afghanistan. The trip included a visit to the Police University and a meeting with Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam. (Tabnak)
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