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: An anonymous source stated that the core of the Arak heavy water reactor has been reconfigured in accordance with the nuclear deal, fulfilling a major step towards the deal’s Implementation Day.

An anonymous “informed source” told Fars News Agency that Iran has removed the core of the Arak heavy water reactor and filled it with cement, effectively preventing the reactor from producing the plutonium levels required for a nuclear weapon. The move satisfies one of Iran’s major commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and brings it one step closer to Implementation Day, which marks the fulfillment of Iran’s initial nuclear commitments and triggers the removal of economic and financial sanctions. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, meanwhile, added that he expects Iran to finish the implementation of its commitments within seven days.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Hossein Ali Amiri announced the replacement of Safar Ali Baratlou, the security deputy for Tehran province's governor general, on state television in response to his handling of the January 2 attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Baratlou later denied that his handling of the embassy attacks resulted in him leaving his post, claiming instead that Amiri “lied on national news.”

Matthew McInnis analyzes Iranian reactions to the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr and explains why Tehran is unlikely to seek further escalation in the conflict with Riyadh in his latest blog post, “Iran backs down after Saudi embassy attack.”

Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Kamalvandi: Iran will fulfill its commitments for the JCPOA’s implementation within one week. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi stated on January 11 that he expects Iran to complete its initial commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) within seven days. Implementation Day, which initiates the removal of economic and financial sanctions against Iran, will occur when the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has fulfilled its initial commitments.
    • Core of Arak heavy water reactor removed. An “informed source” told Fars News Agency that the core of the Arak heavy water reactor has been removed and filled with cement, thereby fulfilling one of Iran’s major commitments under the JCPOA. The move effectively prevents the Arak reactor from producing the plutonium levels required for a nuclear weapon. (ILNA) (Fars News Agency) (E)
  • Foreign Ministry: Iran’s missile program is unrelated to the JCPOA. Hossein Jaberi Ansari stated that Iran has emphasized that its missile program is a matter of national defense and unrelated to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Foreign Ministry Spokesman also criticized Saudi Arabia for “unilaterally imposing its policies” on regional states, and warned that Saudi Arabia is seeking to “recruit” other countries to support its “policy of severing relations.” (YJC)
  • Larijani promises response to JCPOA violations. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani addressed potential violations of the nuclear deal during sessions of Parliament on January 10 and 11. He stated that Iran will think about enacting “necessary” and “reciprocal” measures if the U.S. violates the nuclear deal, including the imposition of new sanctions and proposed modifications to the Visa Waiver Program. Larijani did not elaborate on what such reciprocal measures would be. He added, however, that “one cannot stop all of the JCPOA if there is a single violation because there are mechanisms within the JCPOA itself” for addressing violations. Larijani also praised the role of the IRGC Qods Force in counterterrorism efforts, stating, “If there were no Qods Force opposing the terrorists, then you would have seen tens of events like the Paris attacks.” The Qods Force is the wing of the IRGC which conducts operations abroad. (ICANA) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Judiciary Head: Additional sanctions may cause Iran to reconsider the JCPOA. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, likely referring to American politicians, stated, “They say, ‘We are lifting enrichment-related sanctions, but we can pass missile-related and human rights-related sanctions.’ This is not wise or acceptable. The continuation of these developments would bring the Islamic Republic of Iran to the point of reconsidering the JCPOA.” The Judiciary Head also stressed that “the Saudis need to understand” that Iran’s “dignity, tact, and silence” against them “does not mean that they can do anything; the Islamic Republic of Iran’s patience has limits.” (Fars News Agency)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Interior Ministry reportedly fires security deputy in response to Saudi embassy attack. Interior Ministry Spokesman Hossein Ali Amiri announced the removal of Safar Ali Baratlou, the security deputy for Tehran's governor general, on January 9 in response to his handling of the January 2 sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amiri emphasized that Baratlou’s removal had no relation to the upcoming elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts and called for security and intelligence apparatuses to have the “necessary foresight” to prevent attacks similar to the ones on the embassy. He added that the Interior Ministry has arrested 60 people connected to the embassy attack and will hand them over to the Judiciary.President Hassan Rouhani had previouslywritten a letter to Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani on January 6 calling for an “immediate investigation” into the file on the Saudi embassy and consulate attacks.
    • Both Baratlou and Hossein Hashemi, Tehran’s governor general, have claimed that Baratlou’s replacement had “no relation to the Saudi [embassy] incident.” During an interview with Fars News Agency on January 10, Baratlou stated, “Unfortunately, Mr. Amiri lied on national news.” Baratlou further claimed that the “pressure” on him began after an attack during a political gathering in November on Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, the interior minister under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, rather than after the embassy attack. (Mehr News Agency) (Alef) (Fars News Agency)
  • Rafsanjani criticizes Saudi government for displaying “political immaturity.” Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani discussed bilateral Iran-Germany ties and regional developments in meeting with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on January 11 in Tehran. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman also discussed Tehran-Riyadh relations and the recent execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. Rafsanjani stated that he had corresponded with former Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud through several letters and phone calls regarding al Nimr’s case; Rafsanjani further claimed that King Abdullah had “stopped” previous attempts to execute al Nimr because he understood the potential ramifications. Rafsanjani also stated, “If the Saudi rulers showed political maturity, they would not be affected by this terrible political situation… The new [Saudi] rulers have a lot of money and because no one holds them accountable, they are taking action in their domestic and foreign policy that is endangering the security of the region.” (ILNA)
  • Over 200 hundred Iranian lawmakers sign a statement condemning Riyadh. During an open session on January 11 in Parliament, 224 parliamentarians signed a statement of condemnation on the Saudi government’s support for terrorism. The statement declared Saudi Arabia “the cradle of terrorist thinking.” (IRIB)


Domestic Politics

  • Supreme LeaderEveryone should vote, “even those who do not agree with the system and leadership.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for massive voter turnout during a speech marking the 1978 anti-Shah protests on January 9 in Qom. The Supreme Leader also stated:
    • On 2009 presidential election protests: “In the year 1388 [2009], the Americans were seeking to implement their project in Iran, which had succeeded in several countries, under the pretext of [presidential] elections…The American government supported those [riotous] events as much as it could, but people’s timely presence on the scene foiled their plots.” 
    • On the nuclear deal: “The Americans are now saying that the period following the nuclear talks will be a period of getting tough on Iran. [They speak] as if they had not been getting tough on Iran before that, but the youth, people, and officials stand against the enemies with awareness, vigilance, hopefulness, firmness, and trust in God and reliance on the country’s strength, and that is very important.”
    • On upcoming elections: “Like before, we insist that everyone, even those who do not agree with the [Islamic] establishment and the Leadership, come to the ballot boxes because the elections belong to the nation, Iran, and the establishment of the Islamic Republic.”
    • “[The existence of] different views and opinions are not a problem. The important thing is that we must step up efforts and be careful so that our choice will be the right one.”
    • “Despite what some people think, the Assembly of Experts is not formed only for meetings and speeches once or twice a year. It selects the ‘Leader,’ i.e. the guide of the movement of the [Islamic Revolution], the day when the current Leader [Supreme Leader Khamenei] is not alive…”
    • “Depending on the makeup of the Assembly of Experts, they may choose someone as Leader, if necessary, to stand against the enemies by trust in God and courageously and continue the Imam’s path, but it is also likely that they would choose someone with different characteristics for Leadership. Therefore, they must be elected after research, with carefulness, with knowledge, and with certainty.”
    • Khamenei stressed that candidates must be selected that will ensure the “survival of the Islamic Revolution and the calm and serenity of the nation.” (



  • Rouhani inaugurates development phases for South Pars oil field. President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech marking the inauguration of phases 15 and 16 of the South Pars gas field on January 11. He stated that the government is striving to finalize all phases of the South Pars gas field by the end of 1396 (late March 2016).
    • Rouhani referenced low oil prices and stated, “Conspiracies will not cause the 11th government [the Rouhani administration] to cut short its promises to the nation.” Rouhani also briefly discussed the nuclear deal as well, stating that he expects sanctions to be lifted “in a few days.”
    • “While oil producers and exporters have been caught up in the drop in oil prices, we will submit to Parliament a budget that is only 25 percent dependent on oil revenues.”
    • Rouhani claimed that the development of the South Pars gas field exemplifies “cooperation among the country’s various operational and executive apparatuses,” including the IRGC. (


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC member killed in Syria. Mohammad Zahrovand, a member of the 71st Brigade of IRGC Ruhollah unit - Markazi province, was killed on October 31, 2015. (
Arrow down red
Feb '16
Jan '16
Dec '15