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: Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed the arrest of an Iranian-American man several days after U.S. news agencies reported that Iran had arrested a San Diego resident.
Ejei did not name the arrested Iranian-American but was likely referring to Robin Shahini, a San Diego resident who was reportedly arrested in the Iranian city of Gorgan on July 11. Ejei confirmed that the dual national was arrested in Gorgan but did not specify the charges against him. Shahini reportedly left Iran in 1998. The U.S. State Department has announced that it is looking into reports of a detained dual national in Iran but has not commented further. Iranian security forces have arrested at least seven dual-national Iranians in the past nine months. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and has prevented embassies from accessing and providing services to dual nationals.
Senior Iranian officials blamed Saudi Arabia for the continuing instability in Iran’s border provinces. Former IRGC Commander and Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei claimed that “the Saudi consulate in northern Iraq assists the Komala Party [a leftist Kurdish nationalist party] and sends terrorists into Iran.” Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, meanwhile, stated that Iran’s security forces will not allow foreign countries to “ship weapons and rent terrorism” with the intention of destabilizing the Iran-Pakistan border. He added that it is regrettable that “one Muslim country on behalf of the Islamic world’s enemies uses its own money to spread war and terrorism in the region.” The comments by Shamkhani and Rezaei closely follow IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari’s comments last weekblaming regional countries for “doing their best to spread insecurity in Iran.”
- Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s offensive cyber strategy in "How much should we fear Iranian cyber proxies?”
- 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.”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Judiciary confirms Iranian-American’s arrest. Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed the arrest of an Iranian-American citizen during a press conference on July 24. Ejei was likely referring to Robin Shahini, a San Diego resident who was reportedly arrested in the Iranian city of Gorgan on July 11. Ejei confirmed that a dual national was arrested in Gorgan -- where Shahini is said to have been detained -- but did not specify the charges against him. (Ana)
Shamkhani blames Saudi Arabia for unrest in southeast. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Pakistani National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua in Tehran to discuss bilateral cooperation. Shamkhani stated that Iran will not allow countries to “ship weapons and rent terrorism” in order to destabilize the Iran-Pakistan border and emphasized that the most important priority is to fight terrorism. Alluding to Saudi Arabia, Shamkhani also said that it is regrettable that “one Islamic country uses its own money to spread war and terrorism in the region on behalf of the Islamic world’s enemies.” (Fars News Agency)
Former IRGC Commander: Saudi Arabia is sending terrorists from Iraq into Iran. Former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei blamed the recent instability in northwestern Iran on Saudi Arabia, stating, “With the intention of interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq and Iran, the Saudi consulate in northern Iraq assists the Komala Party [a leftist Kurdish nationalist party] and sends terrorists into Iran... The Saudis are the most evil government in the world and are driving the region into instability with their own insanity.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Iran to file complaint with IAEA over leaked document. Behrouz Kamalvandi announced that Iran will file a complaint with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over arecently leaked document on Iran’s commitments under the nuclear agreement. The Associated Press obtained and reported on the classified document, which revealed that certain restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment will ease before the nuclear accord itself expires at 15 years. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman added that the document “was to remain confidential” and claimed that the IAEA leaked it. (Tasnim News Agency)
AEOI head announces heavy water contract with Russia. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran is close to finalizing a contract with Russia for the sale of 40 tons of heavy water. He added that it will be signed “soon” and that some details, including price, still need to be finalized. The nuclear agreement requires Iran to limit its heavy water stockpile to under 130 tons. Iran reportedly encountered difficulty finding buyers for its excess heavy water in the spring, when the U.S. Department of Energy announced its purchase of 32 tons. (Fars News Agency) (Fararu)
- Foreign Ministry censures Saudi foreign minister. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Ghassemi issued a statement denouncing Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir’s claim of “35 years of Iranian hostility” toward Saudi Arabia. Ghassemi stated, “It is understandable that the Saudi foreign minister has had some difficult days after the release of the 9/11 report and expects more difficult days ahead… He should think more about the repercussions of his comments.” (Donya-e Eqtesad)
Military and Security
IRGC arrests suspects in assassination attempt. An anonymous “informed source” told a state-run news agency that the IRGC Intelligence Organization has arrested three suspects in the July 10 assassination attempt on a parliamentarian. Gunmen shot at a car carrying the parliamentarian and several others in the northwestern province of Kermanshah, where Kurdish militant groups operate. The source noted that an investigation into “other suspected groups” is still ongoing. (Ghatreh)
- Artesh Ground Forces to conduct 20 exercises by year’s end. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that the Artesh Ground Forces will hold 20 military exercises before the end of the current Persian calendar year (March 2017). Pourdastan said that two major drills will occur in the southeastern and western areas of Iran and that the western exercise will feature a rapid response exercise. Iran has recently conducted security operations against Kurdish groups in the west and drug traffickers in the southeast. (Defa Press)
Interior Minister: Official election proceedings will begin in six months. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced that the Interior Ministry will begin “implementing formal proceedings” in the Persian month of Azar (November-December) in preparation for the presidential election and local elections for city council. Fazli added, “We must all ensure that we hold legal, healthy, and safe elections.” Iran’s presidential election is scheduled to be held in early summer 2017, but the Interior Ministry has proposed holding the elections in May in order to avoid overlapping with the fasting month of Ramadan. The Guardian Council hasstated that it is reviewing this request. (Hamshahri)
Influential principlist: Rouhani’s re-election depends on the economy. Former parliamentarian and secretary of the hardline Islamic Society of Engineers Mohammad Reza Bahonar discussed the upcoming presidential elections during a press conference. Bahonar noted that President Hassan Rouhani will face difficulty winning re-election to a second term unless he is able to revive the economy during his remaining time in office. Bahonar added that if Rouhani does make it to the second round of the election, “people will vote for whomever his opponent is.” Bahonar also addressed rumors about former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom some consider to be preparing to launch a presidential bid in the upcoming 2017 elections. He stated that “the chance that he wins the presidency is very small.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Guardian Council dismisses speculation on Ahmadinejad candidacy. Guardian Council Spokesperson Abbasali Kadkhodaei called it “premature” to speculate on whether the council would disqualify Ahmadinejad from the upcoming presidential elections. The Guardian Council vets all electoral candidates for the presidency, Parliament, and the Assembly of Experts. Ahmadinejad remains unpopular among some conservatives. Moderate-conservative parliamentarian Ali Motahari recently called for Ahmadinejad to “stand trial for his behavior during his presidency” before he can launch a reelection bid, while senior conservative politician Ahmad Tavakkoli stated that there are “plenty of reasons” for the Guardian Council to disqualify Ahmadinejad.
- Kadkhodaei also commented on the Guardian Council’s controversial disqualification of two candidates in the spring elections: Minoo Khaleghi, a reformist candidate for Parliament, and Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, a reformist-inclined grandson of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who ran for the Assembly of Experts. After a reporter asked if their disqualifications “caused the people’s distrust in the Guardian Council,” Kadkhodaei stated, “I agree with part of your question, which is that a good explanation was not given [to the public by the Guardian Council].” He added, however, that there is “no possibility” that the Guardian Council will publicly release its reasoning for some disqualifications, which he noted were made based on personal documentation. (IRNA) (Ghatreh)
- Aseman Airlines to buy Mitsubishi planes. Deputy Transportation Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan announced that Iran’s Aseman Airlines is negotiating with Mitsubishi Aircraft to purchase around 25 commercial airplanes. (Press TV) (E)