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 and Marie Donovan, 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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei renewed calls for a unified Muslim world, while condemning the U.S. for exacerbating regional crises and approving of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. President Hassan Rouhani echoed the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s calls for resistance against the West and discussed the way in which the current Iranian state fits into the theological vision of “preparing” for the return of the 12th Shi’a Imam Mahdi.

Supreme Leader Khamenei warned regional states against collaborating with the U.S. against Muslim nations in a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s death. Khamenei urged the Muslim world not to “not trust the promises of enemies, arrogance, and the world powers… "Imam [Khomeini] saw this coming. Therefore, he took a decision on the espionage den [referring to the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979].” President Rouhani reinforced the message of resistance, stating that Iran is determined to “smash sanctions” and overcome unjust pressure from the West. Rouhani added: “We must prepare the country's conditions, the region's conditions, and, God willing, the world's conditions for the reappearance [of Imam Mahdi] will spread justice.”  His comments should serve as a reminder of his clerical status and show his belief in the theological legitimacy of the current regime and its form of governance.

Senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi reiterated the Supreme Leader’s red line on IAEA-led inspections of military sites, stating that such inspections “are unacceptable." The Deputy Foreign Minister added: "if an agreement is to be implemented...access [at the nuclear facilities] will be managed." Iran and the EU-3, meanwhile, held nuclear talks on June 4 in Vienna Austria. 

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis shed light on Iranian grandstanding on redlines and how the leadership is coming to terms with the concessions needed to reach a nuclear deal in his most recent blog “Iran in knots over inspections, interrogations, and Western spies.”

Official Statements

  • Khamenei calls for a unified Muslim world to stand against West. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a large gathering on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on June 4 at Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran. Khamenei stressed the importance of following the late Khomeini’s principles, particularly Islamic unity and vigilance against enemy plots. Khamenei criticized the U.S. for sowing discord, stating:
    • "Sunni and Shi’a brothers should know that the enemy constitutes a threat to the existence of Islam.”
    • "Sowing discord between Muslims is one of the main policies of the global arrogance [West]…They support one [denomination of Islam] and attack others.”
    • “Today, the deviant movements of ISIS and al Qaeda and similar groups are supported by America and Israel. Also there are some currents bearing the name of Islam, but are far from Islam in action, jurisprudence, and Sharia, that are supported by America."
    • “Our [Iran’s] attitude toward our Palestinian friends, who are Sunni, has been similar to our friends of the Lebanese Hezbollah, who are Shi’a…Therefore, the issue of Palestine will never be removed from the agenda of the Islamic Republic.”
    • "No event will distance us from the issue of Palestine. In spite of the fact that there may be some people who do not carry out their tasks concerning this issue, we approve and support the people of Palestine, the Palestinian nation, and the Palestinian fighters."
    • “Over the past years, our enemy has carried out numerous activities against our country and the nation to damage our independence, including imposing sanctions and making threats. They have targeted our independence…”
    • "We, categorically, must not trust the promises of enemies, arrogance, and the world powers. This can be found in Imam [Khomeini's] behavior, action, and speeches."
    • "Imam [Khomeini] was always against America and had objections against the American political and security system."
    • "After the start of the [Islamic] Revolution, some people did not pay attention to the fact that America was feeding the monarchy regime which was overthrown by the nation."
    • “If we had given them [the Americans] an opportunity, they would start inflicting damage on the country again. They would look for weak points to enter the country."
    • "The Imam [Khomeini] saw this coming. Therefore, he took a decision on the espionage den [referring to the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979].” (
  • Rouhani: Iran “determined to…smash sanctions.” On June 3 at a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, President Hassan Rouhani stated: 
    • “The Iranian nation is helping the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other regional nations in their fight against terrorism, violence and extremism. Relying on Almighty Allah's power, we can ultimately defeat these machinations.”
    •  Rouhani also “…said the Iranian nation is determined to resist against unjust pressures, smash sanctions, and foil the plots hatched against their country.”
    • “Imam Khomeini's message resonates in our people's mind enabling us to stand against the plots hatched by the major powers in the region.” He also “emphasized the importance of the teachings of Imam Khomeini with regard to maintaining national unity and solidarity.”
    • “One of the blessings of the Islamic Revolution and Imam Khomeini was the correct interpretation [tafsir] of what was expected; the issue of Mahdi-ism, is an issue of the expectation of the day that justice will be deployed around the world and an ideal Islamic state will be formed…Unfortunately, before the Islamic movement [possibly the 1979 Islamic Revolution], some interpreted…that …in the period of absence [of the Mahdi, or 12th Imam], an Islamic government, or even a legitimate government, is meaningless…Expectation according to this meaning is distorted… resulting in lethargy and sluggishness in society…But in the ‘movement’ and the [Islamic] Revolution,  Khomeini [gave] the real interpretation [tafsir] of the expectation through word and action.”
    • “We must prepare the country's conditions, the region's conditions, and, God willing, the world's conditions for the reappearance [of Imam Mahdi] will spread justice.”
    • “Although we have different tastes and different factions and parties, in the national interest, our words and voice are unified, [in order] to maintain the system [of the Islamic Republic and] for the unity of the Islamic world.” (Office of the President) (E) (Office of the President)
  • Sanaei discusses S-300s and Iran-Russia economic relations. In an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei stated: 
    • On Iran’s foreign policy: “Iran’s foreign policy follows two main principles: first, Iran does not accept the idea of a uni-polar world, and second, Iran is against any interference of non-regional countries in the region. Regional problems should be solved by the respective regions.”
    • On Iran’s membership in the SCO: When prompted about the possibility of Iran being denied full SCO membership in the event UN sanctions are not lifted and a final nuclear deal is not reached, Sanaei stated: “The situation in the region and the world has changed, and Iran is becoming an increasingly important actor in regional and international affairs…The Shanghai Cooperation Council cannot ignore Iran’s capabilities.”
    • On Iran-Russia relations: “We will actively develop bilateral relations.” He highlighted that Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Hassan Rouhani have met numerous times since September 2013; “however, positive trends are available not only in politics but also in terms of economic trade cooperation.”
    • On the delivery of the S-300 air defense system: The interviewer stated, “Russian officials point out that the exact time of the supply of the S-300 will only be possible when Iran reverses its lawsuit [against Russia regarding the S-300] in the [International Court of Justice.]” Sanaei responded, “It is important that the President of the Russian Federation has lifted the prohibition of sales [of the S-300] to Iran. The rest of the issues are the responsibility of the experts. This is related to technical issues, and is not a serious problem. I do not think this is an obstacle to the implementation of the decision of the Russian president.”
    • On sanctions: The interviewer states, “But Russian companies are afraid of American sanctions. The United States of America has repeatedly warned Russia regarding transactions with Iran.” Sanaei responded: “Sanctions should not be feared, and moreover, as I have said, even taking sanctions into account, there can and should be cooperation. This can be done quite legally. Finally, Russian companies have to accept that the world is not just the West.” (Mashregh News)
  • Velayati: ISIS hurting the true image of Islam. Secretary General of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening Ali Akbar Velayati spoke on the sidelines of the International Conference on Imam Khomeini. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor warned that ISIS has launched "psychological warfare and propaganda against Islamic values." He also stated that as “Islamic countries it is our duty to awaken public order to expose the anti-Islamic conspiracies to the true image of Islam." In addition, Velayati spoke on the issue of Palestine, noting that there should be “no obstacle that will stop Iran from giving aid to Palestinians." (Tabnak)
  • Naghdi: Anniversary of Khomeini’s death should be focused on unity. The Head of the Basij Organization IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi stressed that the ceremonies in honor of the late Supreme Leader "should be a symbol of unity," and not of "expressing partisan positions." He further stated "the memory of Imam Khomeini is held to be the epitome of unity and integration." (Basij Press)
  • Larijani stresses downsizing of administration. At a ceremony commemorating the birthday of the 12th Imam, Parliament Speaker Ali “Larijani stressed that the government and the banks should be in the service of production,” and stated: “The government is not a good tradesman, and our production should not be governmental.” Larijani “also stressed the need to shrink the government,” and stated: “If the 11th government [Rouhani’s administration] wants to serve, it needs to act on shrinking the government.” Larijani continued: “As long as the country’s administration is so vast, the country will suffer.” (Defa Press)



Nuclear Talks

  • Khatami: Don’t “accuse” negotiating team “of betrayal.” Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated, “No one has the right to accuse the nuclear negotiators of betrayal…the Iranian nuclear negotiators are supported in the case[s] where they move within the framework set by the Supreme Leader.” Khatami emphasized that “entry into military centers and installations” as part of a deal “is forbidden,” and “in addition, the sanctions should be lifted in one step.” He also stated that the “Iranian nation, the armed forces, the IRGC and the Basij would break the steps of people who want to enter Iran’s military facilities.” (Mehr News)
  • Iran and EU-3 hold nuclear talks in Vienna. International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi and European and American Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi led the Iranian negotiating team in talks with France, Germany, and the UK on June 4 in the Austrian capital. (YJC)
  • Araghchi: Inspections of military sites "unacceptable." Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi stated Thursday morning that "inspection visits to military facilities and civilian centers are unacceptable." Araghchi explained that there are still interpretational differences between Iran and the West over the scale of inspections. He stated "if an agreement is to be implemented...access [at the nuclear facilities] will be managed." (Mashregh News)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Zarif: Trilateral talks with Chinese and Russian counterparts. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). They discussed the ongoing nuclear talks, as well as the stability in the region, particularly in Yemen. (YJC)
    • Russia's S-300s to be delivered to Iran "soon." Zarif met privately on Thursday with Sergey Lavrov, and once the meeting ended Lavrov told the media: "We merely stated that preparations for the delivery [of Russia's S-300 air defense system] are underway and the deal will be in effect soon." (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
  • Head of NIGC meets with French investors. The Head of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Hamid Reza Araghi has been meeting with numerous French investors on the sidelines of the World Gas Conference in Paris: "According to the Ministry of Petroleum's Shana news outlet, representatives of many major companies in France have requested meetings to discuss possible cooperation." (Press TV) (E)



  • Oil Minister meets with Shell CEO. Bijan Zanganeh met with Shell’s Chief Executive Ben van Beurden on June 3 in Vienna, Austria. Beurden assured the Iranian Oil Minister that Shell plans to pay its $2 billion debt once sanctions were lifted. (IRNA) (E)
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