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

Key takeaway: Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh discussed Iran’s efforts to reduce its economic dependence on oil revenue; Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry will hold direct talks on February 7.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh highlighted the potential to use Iran’s oil industry to grow its non-oil sectors and in turn diminish its dependence on it. Iran has long been conscious of its economy’s dependence on oil and has made a concerted effort to decrease it, especially through developing its petrochemical sector.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to hold direct nuclear talks on February 7, in Munich.  The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, indicated that if the talks fail, Iran will install more centrifuges and “continue to develop its nuclear program…[according to] the country’s national interests”, underlining increasing domestic pressure on the Rouhani administration to reach a nuclear deal with the P5+1.
 

Official Statements

  • Zanganeh: Through oil we can reduce our dependence on it. On a special television interview Wednesday night Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh expressed his appreciation for the growth of the oil sector and claimed that oil can be used to develop the non-oil sector. He stated that oil money can be used to develop the petrochemical sector to control costs and reduce dependence on oil. He went on say that because sanctions have made it difficult to purchase foreign equipment abroad, Iran now produces 65% of domestic equipment. He also discussed the gas sector’s increasing export capacity.
    • “Using oil we can help the non-oil economy grow and fortunately with the tools and emphasis on the launch of the National Development Fund by the Supreme Leader, we can achieve this goal.”
    • On the South Pars Field: “Weathering the height of sanctions, we will add 7 new decks at sea along with launching phase 15 of the gas field.”
    • “This year we will have an additional 100 million cubic meters production… If it was not for the Parliament and Government to the oil ministry we would not have been able to achieve this success because of our financial problems.”
    •  “One hundred million shares of petroleum products will be available soon.”
    • On exporting natural gas: “Thanks to the Persian Gulf Star refinery project there will be no need to import gas, but God willing, we will be exporting gas.”
    • “We also need to focus on producing more fuel efficient vehicles in order to reduce the consumption of gasoline.”
    • On Pakistani delay of pipeline: “In our opinion there is no problem with exporting gas to Pakistan, but we had a contractual agreement to extract gas by the beginning of 2015 and they have violated their part of the deal. According to the agreement we would construct a gas pipeline to the border of Pakistan, and they would construct the pipeline to the border of Iran, but they have spoken with us about problems with financing, but the problem will be solved soon.” (IRNA)
       
  • Rouhani announces formation of committees to help those who have defaulted on loan payments. President Hassan Rouhani announced plans to create committees that may defer private bank loan payments for those adversely affected by the current economic situation. Rouhani also discussed the problems caused by the water shortage and suggested that some agricultural practices will have to change, including the use of certain pesticides and chemicals. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Saidi: We cannot allow America to pass our red lines. Representative of the Supreme Leader Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Saidi denounced those who say the current economic situation is a crisis, and said that although there are problem, Iran cannot allow America to pass the red lines of the Islamic Republic. Saidi praised the achievements of Islamic revolutions for changing the Middle East and transforming the “inner revolution” of society at large. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Haddad Adel: Iran will decide its own fate. Parliamentarian and Expediency Discernment Council member Gholam Ali Haddad Adel stated, “…the sanctions imposed against us are the most difficult in history. Our sin is that we want to be independent. We have committed a sin because we want for Iran to be decided in Tehran…not London, Washington, or Moscow. The nation of Iran is ready to defend its independence.” (Mehr News)
     
  • Tabassi: watch out for political opponents’ influence in seminaries. Superintendent of the Khorasan seminaries and Trustee of Holy Imam Reza Shrine Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabassi stated “there is a need… [for] the seminaries to prevent the influence of political opponents of the system by thought and knowledge; the scholars must not allow the seminaries to be infected with issues detrimental to national interests and the valuable gains of the system.” (IRNA)
     

Nuclear Talks

  • Iran to install more centrifuges if new sanctions are imposed. Hamid Baeidinejad discussed the upcoming nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the P5+1 and articulated some concern regarding the possibility of hitting an impasse due to a lack of will on all sides. The Foreign Ministry’s Director for Political and International Affairs said that if the opposing side returns to its previous position, Iran will “continue to develop its nuclear program from the perspective that benefits the country’s national interests. Iran will continue its development and we will install more centrifuges.” (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Kerry and Zarif to meet in Germany. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to hold direct nuclear talks on February 7, in Munich. (Fars News Agency)
     

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Zarif meets with Burundi’s President. Foreign Minister Zarif met with President Pierre Nkurunziza yesterday in Bujumbura. Zarif expressed Iran’s interest in joint economic cooperation with Burundi. The Burundian President said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is a precious friend for us, and Bujumbura wishes to expand comprehensive relations with Tehran.” (ISNA
    • Zarif also held talks with the President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete to underscore Tehran’s interest in pursuing bilateral relations with Dodoma. Zarif also visited Kenya and Uganda as part of the Foreign Minister’s African tour. (Mashregh News)
       
  • Iran and Afghanistan sign border agreement. The two sides signed the agreement “in order to improve the level of border security” as well as serving “border cooperation in the fight against evil and drugs.” Afghan Border Guards Commander Mohammad Shafiq Fazli stated, “Afghanistan is your second home became both countries share a common religion, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has sheltered thousands of our migrants as friends and brothers.” (Alef
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