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 Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributor Shayan Enferadi. 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.
Key takeaway: Pro-Rouhani officials praised the nuclear deal on the occasion of its one-year anniversary.
Several senior officials released statements marking the anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by defending its accomplishments as Iranians increasingly doubt its payoffs. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the nuclear agreement is “a triumph of diplomacy over coercion” but alluded to Iran’s uninspiring benefits from the deal, stating that “progress will remain elusive as long as short-sighted bragging, lackluster implementation of obligations, and tired slogans are preferred.” Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani defended the nuclear deal’s “many accomplishments” but acknowledged that “they are far from the eyes of the people.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei re-appointed Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Reza Modarresi Yazdi, and Hojjat ol Eslam Mahdi Shabzendedar to another six-year term on the Guardian Council. Jannati is a hardline cleric whom the Assembly of Experts, which is constitutionally charged with selecting the next supreme leader, elected as their chairman in late May. Parliament also selected two conservative-backed jurists and one reformist/moderate-backed jurist to fill three of the six slots for lawyers on the Guardian Council on July 13. The appointment of the three other clerics and the election of the three other lawyers on the twelve-member Council will take place at a later date. The Council staggers its elections so that not all seats are contested at the same time.
A member of the Tehran-based IRGC 27th Mohammad Rasoul Allah Division was killed in the vicinity of Aleppo, Syria, on June 13. His body was only recently returned to Iran.
- Paul Bucala and Ken Hawrey document Iran’s aerial resupply network to Syria as part of Tehran’s expanding ground campaign to support Assad in “Iran’s Airbridge to Syria.”
- AEI scholars mark the one-year anniversary of the nuclear deal and reflect on what has come to pass since the Islamic Republic reentered the global economy in “The Iran Deal: A Year in Review.”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Officials defend nuclear deal on one-year anniversary. Senior officials released statements marking the anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the JCPOA is “a triumph of diplomacy over coercion” but noted that “progress will remain elusive as long as short-sighted bragging, lackluster implementation of obligations, and tired slogans are preferred. Mutual respect and fulfillment of JCPOA obligations to ensure promised dividends will open new horizons.” Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani both defended the JCPOA and criticized its opponents, stating, “There are some short-sighted people inside the country who oppose both the JCPOA and releasing [people from] house arrest… The JCPOA has many accomplishments, but they are far from the eyes of the people.” Rouhani Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated that “everyone saw and heard about what valuable measures have been taken in our country after the JCPOA.” (ISNA) (Kaleme) (ISNA)
Kamalvandi: The congressional attempt to block heavy water purchase did not violate nuke deal. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi discussed Congress’s efforts to block America’s purchase of heavy water from Iran. He said, “America has decided not to purchase any more heavy water from us. This does not conflict with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. However, if it wants to stop the sale of these products to other countries, it would certainly be a violation of the JCPOA.” When asked what Iran’s reaction to a violation would be, Kamalvandi stated, “We know that it is unlikely that America would do such a thing.” (YJC)
Iran summons Egypt envoy to protest parliamentarians’ attendance at regime opposition rally. The Foreign Ministry summoned Egypt’s top envoy in Iran to protest the presence of several Egyptian parliamentarians at an Iranian opposition rally in Paris on July 10. The political affiliate of the exiled Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which the U.S. listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 and advocates for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, organized the rally. The Foreign Ministry criticized the Egyptian parliamentarians’ attendance as “blatant interference” in Iran’s internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry also summoned the French ambassador to Iran on July 12 to protest the rally. (Mehr News Agency)
- Former Deputy FM: We will continue to support Syria. Former Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian vowed that Iran will continue to support the “Axis of Resistance,” including Syria. Abdollahian also praised Syrian President Bashar al Assad for being “critical in the preservation of national unity and territorial integrity.” The “Axis of Resistance” is a term Iranian officials use to refer to Iranian proxies from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. (Fars News Agency)
Khamenei reappoints three Guardian Council clerics. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei re-appointed Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Reza Modarresi Yazdi, and Hojjat ol Eslam Mahdi Shabzendedar to another six-year term as clerics on the influential Guardian Council, which must review parliamentary legislation before it becomes law and vets electoral candidates. Parliament also selected three lawyers on July 13 to serve on the Council. The reformist-moderate Hope parliamentary faction backed Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, while Parliament’s conservative faction backed Abbasali Kadkhodaei and Fazlollah Mousavi. (Mehr News Agency) (Asr Iran)
- Boroujerdi criticizes proposed defense budget cut. Conservative parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi reacted to the Rouhani administration’s proposal to cut 8 trillion tomans (approximately $1.6 billion) from the current year’s defense budget. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission chairman said the proposal reflected a thoughtless disregard for Iran’s national security. He also referenced the administration’s effort to remove subsidies for higher income groups, and stated, “The removal of 8 trillion [tomans] in subsidies from higher income groups can solve the government’s problems regarding the country’s annual budget.” (YJC)
Military and Security
- Artesh Ground Forces commander: The Artesh is working with the IRGC to protect Iran’s borders. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan praised the Artesh’s cooperation with the IRGC and Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), stating, “The unity and cohesion between the Artesh Ground Forces, the IRGC, and the (LEF) border guards has created a strong force structure. We have also exchanged intelligence in order for us to develop the proper defensive capabilities against threats, even beyond our borders, so that we are not taken by surprise.” Iran’s border areas, particularly in the northwest, have recently witnessed an uptick of violence. (Tasnim News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- IRGC soldier to be buried in Tehran. Mehdi Zakir Hosseini was a member of the IRGC 27th Mohammad Rasoul Allah Division. He was killed in the vicinity of Aleppo, Syria, on June 13, but his body was only recently returned to Iran. (Basij Press)