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 the AEI Critical Threats Project's Iran research team. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
- In an interview, Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticized the economic involvement of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC):
- “It is completely in our constitution, meaning military forces who have high capacity must not remain still and wait for war.”
- “After the [Iran-Iraq] War I did this in my administration. Meaning at that time there were not many contractors inside the country when developing and rebuilding the country were the priority and had many projects at hand. This [lack] of competition did not adjust prices. If we did not have competitors, it would end up very expensive.”
- “I do not accept the current method that these [IRGC] transform to a competitor in ownership [of projects]. They did not become owners [during his tenure]; for example we gave the Karkheh dam which had an unprecedented and very massive levee work to the IRGC…. They operated very rapidly in projects like road building, except they were not owners and got the contractor right cheaper than others.”
- President Hassan Rouhani’s spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht commented on the implementation of the Geneva accord and said, “Parts of important sanctions in the petrochemical and shipping industry or the automobile industry and aviation parts were removed and the heavy shadow of sanctions from currency transfers also reduced to an extent. With attention to the removal of sanctions, our situation next year will be significantly better than the current year. Of course this is the superficial appearance of the matter and a more appropriate environment to improve employment and jobs will be created in the country, but the lifting of sanctions has no effect on the future budget because we designed the budget proportionate with the most difficult conditions while hoping for [improvement in the situation].”
Diplomacy and Regional Developments
- Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria Jabhat al -Nusra has claimed responsibility for today’s bombing in southern Beirut, which it said was launched in retaliation for Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian war. The bombing has- reportedly- left five people dead and thirty-five others wounded.
- Special Representative of Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary Ebrahim Amin al -Seyed defended the presence of Lebanese Hezbollah in Syria and stated, “Perhaps it is mistakenly imagined that the reason for Hezbollah’s presence in Syria is a transfer from Palestine to Syria, while our presence in Syria is part of the battle with America and the Zionist regime. Our presence in Syria is so that Syria does not fall to America and the Zionist regime. We are involved in a villainous war in Syria that seeks to destroy Islam’s ummah, its achievements and victories. The continuation of this battle will determine the future of the Islamic ummah.”
- Two “defenders of the Seyyeda Zeinab shrine” Hossein Nosrati and Mahmoud Reza Beizaei were killed in Syria on Sunday.
- The Iranian Embassy in Yemen’s Abolghassem Asadi was killed in Sana’a by gunmen on January 18. His funeral was held early Wednesday in Tehran.
- Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke about the recent spate of attacks against Iranian assets and Iran’s regional relations:
- “We have information at hand that indicates that the recent attacks against our embassy in Beirut, technicians in Iraq, and our martyred diplomat in Sanaa were a group of organized and targeted actions that were carried out by takfiri currents and terrorists. There is a possibility that some foreign parties were behind these actions.”
- Abdollahian commented on the investigation into the embassy bombing in Beirut: “There is serious vagueness surrounding the death of Majid al-Majid, but we will allow the investigation to conclude and view the documents from the [Lebanese] authorities.”
- He also noted that diplomats had already been dispatched to Yemen to discuss the drive-by shooting of Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Assadi: “We will undergo joint talks with Yemen in the upcoming days. The most important issue is the security of Iranian places and diplomats in Sanaa.”
- Abdollahian announced that he would be traveling throughout the Persian Gulf next week and Iraqi Foreign Minister Houshiar Zibari would be visiting Iran in two weeks.
- The deputy minister addressed Bahrain as well, saying, “From the beginning, we have told Bahraini officials that Iran does not in any way support the overthrow of this government. Whatever happens in that country is a Bahraini issue, and the baseless charges of Iranian intervention into the affairs of this country are incorrect.”
- Senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani criticized the UN’s withdrawal offer for Iran to Join the Syria peace talks and stated, “The strengthening, monetary and equipment support of terrorist groups take place by Saudi Arabia and America, and the international community should cease the support of terrorist sponsoring countries instead of holding summits likes Geneva.”
- Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi echoed the criticism of the UN and stated, “Many countries that have no relation to Syria are invited to this summit, except Iran who is Syria’s primary ally. UN Secretary General [Ban Ki-Moon] who is an employee of the American president invites Iran to the session and immediately withdraws it within the span of a day.”
- Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Qazanfar Roknabadi attended the funeral of former diplomat Assadi and stated, “Naturally, following the continuous victories of the Resistance Front in the region and standing against the sanctions of the Zionist regime, takfiri groups commit such measures based on desperation and inability. [These] groups are guided by the Zionist regime and their operation benefits this regime.”
- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave details on his phone conversations with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and criticized the decision to rescind Iran’s invitation:
- “During all of these [phone calls], I told him frankly that we would not accept any type of preconditions…Unfortunately, after Mr. Ban Ki-Moon announced Iran’s invitation, he was placed under pressure.”
- “We are sorry that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon rescinded his invitation under this pressure. What is a greater cause of regret is the lack of courage to announce a reason for rescinding the invitation.”
- Zarif also said that he would be engaging in “preliminary talks” with European Union (EU) Head of Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum and Munich Security Conference.
- The Foreign Ministry released a statement that included recommendations for the Geneva II talks, saying, “Iran expresses serious worry about the presence of terrorist groups in Syria. The priority of any regional or international movement in connection with Syria must be on the basis of confronting terrorism…The growth of terrorism in Syria is a danger that threatens all regional and non-regional countries.”
- “Without a doubt, the criteria for a democratic approach must be through the votes of the Syrian people by way of elections.”
- The Russian and Syrian foreign ministries criticized the UN for rescinding Iran’s invitation to Geneva II. The Russian spokesman said, “The UN’s decision to rescind Iran’s invitation to the Geneva II conference weakens international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.”
- Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem called the failure to invite Iran “a great error.”
- Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Eraghchi briefed members of the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission yesterday and said, “Other than accepting 20% [enrichment] suspension and transforming them, we did not accept any ceasing or retreating backwards in the nuclear industry.”
- Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Safeguards Director Mohammad Amiri announced on Monday that Iran had “halted all production of 20% uranium at Fordow and Natanz” as well as began the process of diluting its reserves of 20% uranium in line with the Joint Plan of Action.
- EU Head of Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton responded to this announcement by saying that the “the halting of sanctions specified by EU foreign ministers will be binding starting today.” She also noted that meetings between the two sides would resume in February.
- Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Eraghchi announced that “The Foreign Ministry has formed a secretariat to follow up on the agreements connected to the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action in order to supervise the other side’s implementation of its responsibilities.”
- “This secretariat has been formed with representatives from six ministries and two organizations…The head of this secretariat is Hamid Baedi Nezhad, Foreign Ministry Political and International Director and member of the nuclear negotiations team."
- According to a report by ISNA, despite emphasis in the Joint Plan of Action that Iran’s 5% enriched uranium reserves would not increase, due to the dilution of current 20% stockpiles, the amount of 5% UF6 will increase by about 400 kilograms, raising Iran’s total reserves to roughly 7,150 kilograms. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed this saying, “With half of Iran’s 20% UF6 becoming 5%, the country’s reserves will increase by about 400 kilograms.”
- Accompanying President Rouhani to the Davos Summit, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh stated, “In this path of increasing Iranian oil and gas production, large multinational corporations can have a share and role in this. In the meeting of oil and gas industry managers in Davos, we will attempt to brief and explicate this matter face-to-face for oil company senior managers.”
- President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in Davos, Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum. The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, and his own assistant Hossein Fereidoun. Rouhani is scheduled to meet with other world leaders at the conference and will give a speech on Thursday.
- Planning and Hydrocarbon Affairs Deputy to the Oil Minister Mansour Moazemi stated, “By executing undergoing projects, the balance of natural gas in the country will improve soon, to the extent that one can be hopeful to see a large jump in natural gas exports in .”
- Iran Petrochemical Industries Company Managing Director and Oil Minister Deputy Abbas She’ri Moghaddam stated, “After the elimination of sanctions [in the petrochemical industry], delayed petrochemical projects will continue soon with attention to exchange of technological information. We hope that from a technological aspect, Iran’s cut relations with Europe will resume again because the matter is to the benefit of both sides. With increase in the transfer of money, we can rapidly progress projects, bilateral interaction between Iran and Europe, which the Europeans can also profit from. This matter is something that will rapidly give results in the sector of trade with the world we can see the results of petrochemical sanctions elimination soon and trade will increase.”
- Despite positive diplomatic developments, the Tehran Stock Exchange is continuing to lose ground, which apparently stems from “the exchange emptying its created bubble.”
Photo of the Day
- Funeral ceremony of Mahmoud Reza Beizaei, killed in action in Syria this past weekend.