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, and Paul Bucala, with contributor Ryan Melvin. 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: President Hassan Rouhani lauded Iran’s regional influence and proclaimed that the Islamic Republic will “cleanse” the Middle East of terrorism through a unified Shi’a-Sunni effort. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi stated that “there is no secrecy” in the IAEA agreement, but admitted that the manner of the investigations “will be classified.” Senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi, meanwhile, reasserted Iran’s right to test ballistic missiles.
President Rouhani advised the United States to rethink its policies towards Iran, because of Iran’s position of power and influence in the Middle East. Rouhani touted Iran as the “most stable” and secure country in the region and stated, “If it were not for Iran…the Iraqi cities of Erbil and Baghdad would have fallen to [ISIS].” Rouhani reassured neighboring states that Iran does not “differentiate between Shi’as and Sunnis…” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, traveled to Kuwait and Qatar to promote regional cooperation. Zarif’s Gulf trip underscores Tehran’s concerted effort to alleviate tensions with its Arab neighbors and to help diffuse opposition to the nuclear deal.
AEOI Head Salehi stated that the manner of IAEA investigations will be secret. He also responded to Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks concerning the Arak heavy water reactor. Salehi said that Kerry was “mistaken,” claiming that the Arak reactor’s core will not be removed, adding: “the steel reservoir will be removed, put aside, and filled with concrete; in case the nuclear deal fails,” Salehi said, Iran can “install a new reservoir in the place of the old one.” Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi reassured domestic critics that “testing [ballistic] missiles does not violate” the nuclear deal.
AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis analyzes recent comments by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other Iranian leaders, and discusses the challenges Iran’s leadership faces in selling the nuclear deal domestically, while claiming they haven’t crossed any of their ‘red lines’ in his most recent blog: "Khamenei has his own tough sell on the nuke deal."
Rouhani: “We do not differentiate between Shi’as and Sunnis.” President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech on July 26 in Kurdistan province, which borders Iraq. Rouhani attributed Iran’s “victory” over the P5+1 to the negotiating team’s superior “logic and reason,” and the resistance of the Iranian nation. He claimed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on July 23 underscore Iran’s power. Rouhani highlighted the domestic issues in the U.S. and advised American officials to rethink their policies towards Iran. Rouhani stated:
- “[Secretary Kerry] made it clear [in the Senate hearing] not to threaten Iranians.”
- "Today we enjoy the victory of all Iranians after 12 years of insisting on…dialogue, despite the threats and pressure imposed by world powers [the P5+1].”
- “Iran will continue the resistance economy in the period of post-sanctions and the government will continue the path of progress.”
- On regional issues: “Iran is in a position that no country can threaten the Islamic Republic. We have managed to settle the nuclear issue…we are also able to solve other regional and international issues through negotiations.”
- “Iran is the safest and most stable country in the region…Iran is a sympathizer…and is in full support of the oppressed people of the region, [including] Dahuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Erbil [part of Iraqi Kurdistan]…Iran does not differentiate between Shi’as and Sunnis…Iran will cleanse the entire region of terrorists through our unity and solidarity.”
- “If it were not for Iran…the Iraqi cities of Erbil and Baghdad would have fallen to [ISIS].” (President.ir) http://president.ir/fa/88351
- Rafsanjani: “World powers must not tarnish the agreement.” Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated that during the negotiations “Iran neither tricked the other negotiating teams, nor allowed itself to be deceived.” The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman emphasized that the Iranian negotiating team had achieved success through “revolutionary resistance and diplomatic skill” and expressed his hope that “this path” would continue “with success.” He also added: “I have said many times and I am saying again that we do not want to move towards an atomic bomb and this is in violation of human and Islamic culture.” Rafsanjani warned that the “world powers must not tarnish the agreement with two sided lies and other grudges.” (ISNA) http://isna.ir/fa/news/94050401924/%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-...
Salehi: The manner of implementing IAEA investigations will be classified. Ali Akbar Salehi stated during an interview with state TV that “We stood our ground during the negotiations.” The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head added: “there is no secrecy in the essential part [of the IAEA agreement].” Salehi added, however, that “We came to an agreement with them [the IAEA] on certain agreements on the manner of inspections and how the inspections will be executed in special cases…these are cases between our country and the IAEA; for example, the necessary arrangements will be made between the IAEA and Iran regarding investigations of the Arak Reactor and the [investigation] will be implemented accordingly...the agreement between us and the IAEA regarding the implementation of inspections is a classified affair.” He also stated:
- On the Arak reactor: “The Arak reactor is not for the enrichment of fuel; the Arak reactor uses heavy water as a neutron moderator; therefore the heavy water reactor at Arak will remain a heavy water reactor.”
- “Several times, our scientists have gone to China and one or two times the Chinese have come to Iran and we have also talked in great detail about this topic [the Arak reactor] with America and China at Vienna…a trilateral meeting will be held in China with Iran, America and the Chinese and this issue will be pursued.”
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was “mistaken when he said that the Arak Reactor’s core will be removed and filled with concrete.” Instead, Salehi explained that the steel reservoir will be removed, put aside, and filled with the concrete; in case the nuclear deal fails, Salehi said that Iran can “install a new reservoir in the place of the old one.”
- On Centrifuges: “IR-7, IR-5, and IR-6S centrifuges will go through mechanical tests without gas injection [during the first eight years].”
- “We will want the IR-6, IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-8 centrifuges for uranium enrichment.”
- After eight years, Salehi says, Iran will gradually increase its number of centrifuges so that “by the end of the limitation period [15 years] Iran’s enrichment capacity will reach 190,000 Separative Work Units. (SWU)”
- On Bushehr: Salehi stated that Iran wants to build two new nuclear power plants in the southern province of Bushehr, which borders the Persian Gulf.
On Fordow: “Fordow creates the guarantee of continued enrichment.” (YJC) http://www.yjc.ir/fa/news/5272912/%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%A8%...
Araghchi: “Testing missiles does not violate the Vienna agreement.” Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi stated that the UNSC resolution requests that “Iran does not engage in activities related to ballistic missiles that have been designed to carry nuclear warheads.” Araghchi continued “This is very natural…[but] the missiles of the Islamic Republic have never been designed for carrying nuclear warheads; all of our ballistic missiles are outside the qualifications of the new UNSC resolution and therefore there are no concerns.” He added that:
- “Even if Iran tested intermediate range missiles, at maximum this is considered a violation of the resolution and is not a violation of the Vienna agreement. The Vienna agreement is completely separate from the resolution. In the Vienna agreement there is no mention of missiles and arms restrictions; these are only issues of the resolution…”
- “It is clearly mentioned in the Vienna agreement that the content of the resolution is separate from the content of the [Vienna] agreement. Therefore a violation of the resolution is not considered a violation of the Vienna agreement...”
- “We believe that any sort of missile test in Iran and activity in Iran that involves missiles that have not been designed for carrying nuclear warheads is basically not in the limitations of the resolution.”
- “If someone wants to interpret it this way, it would ultimately be a violation of the resolution, not the agreement. Therefore, the agreement would clearly not be violated.” (ISNA) http://isna.ir/fa/news/94050401738/%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%DA%86%DB%8C-...
Larijani: Nuclear agreement is a "national issue." Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani stated that any judgement on the nuclear agreement should be "realistic and fair." The Judiciary Head added:
- "The nuclear issue is a national issue and in appraising it [the nuclear agreement], nothing unrealistic or against national interests should be said."
- On the negotiating team: Larijani praised the negotiation team, stating "were it not for the unswerving support of the Leader...the nuclear negotiations would find other conclusions than this and the West would not recognize our rights."
- On concessions: Larijani admitted that Iran had accepted heavy restrictions on its nuclear program regarding the number of centrifuges, the type of centrifuges, research, and development.
- On the West: Larijani expressed his hope that the U.S and the West were trying to compensate for their past behavior towards Iran. (Mashregh News) http://www.mashreghnews.ir/fa/news/445204/%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF...
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Zarif: Iran would continue its role in combating extremism in Iraq. During a press conference in Iraq, Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that Iran will continue to cooperate with the Iraqi government in fighting “extremism and terrorism.” The Foreign Minister is on his first regional diplomatic trip since the conclusion of the nuclear negotiations. (ISNA) (E)http://isna.ir/en/news/94050502589/Zarif-Iran-to-continue-playing-role-i...
- Zarif discusses regional security with Kuwaiti Emir. During a meeting with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, Zarif expressed his desires for security, stating that Iran has always prioritized boosting relations and cooperation with regional countries “in all fields.” (ISNA) (E) http://isna.ir/en/news/94050502128/Iran-always-after-neighbors-Mideast-s...
- Zarif meets with Qatari Emir. Zarif met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in the capital city of Doha. The Foreign Minister stressed the necessity for regional cooperation stating, "Terrorism and extremism should be confronted within the framework of safeguarding and [respecting]...the states' national sovereignty." The Qatari Emir urged the importance of cooperation and stated that all countries should be "committed to this principle." (Fars News Agency) (E) http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940505000401
Zarif meets with senior Iraqi religious leaders in Najaf. Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Saeed Hakim, Sheikh Eshaq Fayyaz, and Sheikh Bashir Najafi in the Iraqi city of Najaf. The religious leaders claimed that they were pleased with the recent nuclear agreement. (IRNA) (E) http://www.irna.ir/en/News/81697377/
Velayati: U.S. categorizes certain terrorist groups as “moderate.” Ali Akbar Velayati criticized the “utterly ridiculous” labels U.S. places on terrorist groups in a meeting with Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stated: “America has categorized terrorist groups as moderate and extremist, which is utterly ridiculous…” Velayati claimed that the U.S. classifies terrorist groups as a “pretext” to ostensibly fight one group, while supporting another. (Velayati.ir) http://velayati.ir/fa/news/1502/%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%...
Nasrallah: “Iran will not abandon ‘the resistance.’” Hassan Nasrallah stressed that Iran will not abandon Lebanese Hezbollah (LH), in a televised speech on July 25. The LH Secretary General stated: “Did Iran sell its allies down the river during the nuclear talks? No, there was no bargaining [on regional issues]…” Nasrallah added: "We say this loud and clear: we receive material and financial support from the Islamic Republic, and we are proud of that fact.” (Kayhan) (E) http://kayhan.ir/files/en/publication/pages/1394/5/4/356_2829.pdf
Afkham: “The Bahrain government intends to create tension in the regional environment.” Marzieh Afkham responded to allegations that two men arrested by Bahrain on July 24 had ties to the Iranian government. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said that “it is clear that the Bahrain government intends to create tension in the regional environment by repeating unfounded allegations.” She added that “these measures are not constructive and do not diminish Iran’s serious measures and commitments to continue its regional policy…especially against threats like fundamentalism and terrorism.” The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman urged Bahraini officials to “reconsider their approach.” (Tasnim News Agency) http://www.tasnimnews.com/Home/Single/810774
Larijani calls for closer relations with Iraq. In a meeting with the president of the Iraqi Parliament’s Committee for Defense and Security, Ali Larijani claimed that cohesion and the national unity of Iraq contributed to recent victories against terrorist groups. The Speaker of the Iranian Parliament asserted that propaganda from the anti-ISIS coalition is insufficient to achieve real progress in Iraq. Larijani added that economic development and fighting poverty could help stem the flow of young recruits to terrorist cells; Larijani claimed that Iran “could play a very important role” in this strategy. (IRIB) http://www.iribnews.ir/NewsBody.aspx?ID=88629
- Boroujerdi: Iran continues to distrust U.S intentions. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi met with his Iraqi counterpart Hakem al Zameli in Tehran. During the meeting, the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary (NSFP) Commission Chairman stated his deep mistrust of U.S intentions. He added that the crisis in Iraq is the result of "Western countries and their regional allies... [they] undermine the strength of Muslim nations and augment the interests of the Israeli regime..." Boroujerdi reiterated Iran's relationship with Iraq, telling al Zameli that "the Islamic Republic considers the problems of Iraqi people as its own..." (Mehr News) (E) http://en.mehrnews.com/news/108812/Iran-always-doubtful-about-US-intenti...
Military and Security
Salami: The U.S. military lacks credibility. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami discussed national security issues during a meeting with military officials in Sistan va Baluchistan province. Salami claimed that “Americans always resort to force, lack skill in diplomacy, are incapable, and always pursue the military threat.” The IRGC Deputy Commander praised the security forces in Sistan va Baluchistan province and noted that “the enemies do not waste a second in their plots towards Iran.” Salami also added that the “Sunni and Shia do not have any differences with each other.” (Basij Press) http://basijpress.ir/fa/news-details/51859/
Naghdi: “In the military realm, we act, we do not talk.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi responded to “military threats” purportedly made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Naghdi stated that “Kerry revealed the American plan for after the nuclear agreement.” Naghdi added, “Every decision we make, we are united. The Americans dream of dividing us…We are all one nation and we have one leader…whatever differences there are, we all think that America is the main enemy.” (Fars News Agency) http://farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13940504001466
New long-range radar unveiled in South Khorasan Province. Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili announced that a long-range radar installed near Tabas city in South Khorasan Province will become operational on September 19. The Khatam al Anbia Air Defense Base Commander claimed that the radar has an operational range of 1000 kilometers and can track ballistic missiles and wide-body aircraft. (Mehr News) http://www.mehrnews.com/news/2867205/%D8%AC%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%AA%D8%B...
- Araghi: Reducing unemployment improves security. IRGC Brig. Gen. Abdollah Araghi emphasized the role of addressing unemployment for improving internal security during a speech in the restive Sistan va Baluchistan province. The Deputy Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces stated that the creation of any form of employment represents a step towards security. Araghi added that all Iranians, regardless of tribe, ethnicity or sectarian affiliation live together under the flag of velayat al-faqih, and must cooperate amongst themselves and with authorities to preserve communal harmony. (Sepah News) http://sepahnews.com/shownews.Aspx?ID=16fd227d-05c5-4103-b41f-2e5319cf61ca
State-run banks will join SWIFT on day of JCPOA implementation. Gholamali Kamyab announced that state-run banks will rejoin the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) once the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) goes into effect. The Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) for Foreign Exchange Affairs stated that SWIFT is a global supplier of secure messaging services, and that currently all Iranian private banks are connected to SWIFT. (Mehr News) (E) http://en.mehrnews.com/news/108813/Iran-s-state-run-banks-to-rejoin-SWIFT
Seif: Iran has $29 billion in frozen assets overseas. Valiollah Seif told reporters Saturday that Iran has $29 billion in frozen assets, much less than the estimated $100-150 billion. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head stated that his bank possesses $23 billion of the total frozen assets, while the other $6-7 billion come from sanctioned international crude oil sales. (Press TV) (E) http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/07/26/421913/Iran-Frozen-Assets-Sanct...
- Iran is building a natural gas power plant in Iraq. The Iran Power Plant Projects Management Company (MAPNA Group) started building a natural gas combined-cycle power plant near Basra in southeastern Iraq. The $2.5 billion dollar project is considered Iran's biggest engineering services deal and will take four years to complete. The location was chosen for its relative safety and stability. (Press TV) (E) http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/07/27/422086/iran-iraq-power-plant-ba...
Ahmadinejad issues complaint against Rouhani’s First Vice President. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lawyer lodged an official complaint against First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri for “defamation and the publication of lies.” Ahmadinejad’s lawyer claimed that Eshaq Jahangiri “in recent years has taken measures to propagate baseless assertions against the previous government with the goal of destroying the people’s trust…” The Office of President Rouhani responded that it would welcome Ahmadinejad’s complaint in court and said “the mismanagement of Ahmadinejad will be placed on the courts.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Entekhab) www.tasnimnews.com/Home/Single/810739http://www.entekhab.ir/fa/news/217213/%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%E2%...
Tavakkoli: “[Nuclear] agreement must be submitted to parliament as a bill.” During a public session of parliament on July 26, Conservative Parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli said that according to the constitution, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) must be sent to parliament “as a bill” but “no action has yet been taken.” Tavakkoli also claimed that “the report by Zarif on the agreement is not logical.” (Tabnak) https://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/519802/%D8%AA%D9%88%DA%A9%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%...
- Rezaei says he prefers to be called “Mr. Mohsen.” IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei recently published a photo on Instagram with a caption describing his many official titles. The Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council stated that he prefers to be addressed as “Mr. Mohsen.” He added that he has had "no higher honor" than serving the Iranian nation. (Rezaee.ir) http://rezaee.ir/fa/news/2111/%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%88%D9%84%D9%8A-%D9%8...