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 contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. 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 defended the Guardian Council’s vetting process during a speech at the last session of the fifth Assembly of Experts.
Khamenei called for restraint when criticizing the Guardian Council’s vetting process for the latest elections, stating, “It is possible that [disqualified candidates] are upset, naturally, but they must not destroy the Guardian Council. They should pursue their complaints through legal channels instead... Reviewing 12,000 people in 20 days is a legal difficulty that must be resolved. The Guardian Council should not come under attack due to this legal difficulty.” The Supreme Leader also called the defeat of prominent hardliners Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi and Mohammad Yazdi in the Assembly of Experts elections an “injury” to the Assembly.
Hossein Jaberi Ansari denied allegations that Iran’s missile exercises this week were a violation of either the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA. The Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that none of the launched missiles were “designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads,” and are therefore not covered under UNSC Resolution 2231.
IRGC Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, meanwhile, rejected reports that Iran has reduced its force levels in Syria. He added, “We are alongside the people of Syria, but the level of our assistance to the government and the people of Syria is based on the requests of the Assad government.”
Matthew McInnis discusses Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decision-making following the elections and explains five steps the Iranian leader may take to shape the resulting political arena in his latest blog post, “After Iran’s elections, the Supreme Leader’s next steps.”
Khamenei defends Guardian Council but acknowledges “legal difficulty.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the election results during a meeting with the Assembly of Experts on March 10. Khamenei referred to candidates whom the Guardian Council disqualified from the elections and stated, “It is possible that they are upset, naturally, but they must not destroy the Guardian Council. They should pursue their complaints through legal channels instead... Reviewing 12,000 people in 20 days is a legal difficulty that must be resolved. The Guardian Council should not come under attack due to this legal difficulty.”
- Khamenei encouraged Iranians to accept the election results by stating, “Unlike those who were not elected in 2009 and who launched a costly sedition that attracted the enemy, those who were not elected in these elections congratulated the winners. This is very valuable and honorable.” He also referred to Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi and current Assembly of Experts Chairman Mohammad Yazdi, two hardline senior clerics who lost their seats in the February 26 elections. Khamenei called their losses an “injury” to the Assembly, but he did not attribute their loss to inappropriate conduct, including foreign interference.
- On a successor: Khamenei called for the Assembly to “remain revolutionary, think revolutionarily, and act revolutionarily” when the time comes for the Assembly to exercise its constitutional mandate to select his successor. Khamenei called for personal interests in the selection process “to be set aside and for only God, the needs of the country, and and the principles of truth to be taken into account.”
- On foreign relations: Khamenei referred to “some [Iranian] officials’ statements that we must interact with the entire world” and stated, “We must have relations with the entire world, of course, with the exception of the U.S. and the Zionist regime [Israel]... We have been injured by the West, and we must not forget what the West has done to us. I do not favor severing relations with the West, but we must understand who we are interacting with.”
- Khamenei was also critical of the business deals struck between Iran and foreign countries since the lifting of sanctions. He stated, “We have seen Westerners coming and going, but these comings and goings have not had any positive effects yet. It should be clear in practice what effect these comings and goings will have. Otherwise, they are only agreements on paper that have no value.” (Leader.ir)
- Ayatollah Kaabi dismisses rumors about the next Assembly of Experts chairman. Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Abbas Kaabi dismissed any reporting about the next Assembly of Experts chairman as simply “rumors” during a conversation with reporters. He acknowledged rumors that Guardian Council Secretary Ahmad Jannati or Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi might run in the internal election, but stated, “Those conversations…are completely speculative.” Iranian officials have reported that the assembly’s new chairman will be selected on May 24. A new chairman is normally elected every two years, but Mohammad Yazdi, the current chairman, finished in 17th place in Tehran’s Assembly of Experts elections, just missing the cut off for Tehran's 16 available seats. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Security
- IRGC Air Force Commander: Iran has not stopped dispatching forces to Syria. IRGC Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh rejected reports that Iran has reduced its force levels in Syria. He stated, “We are alongside the people of Syria but the level of our assistance to the government and the people of Syria is based on the requests of the Assad government...This activity [of sending forces to Syria] has not stopped, and we are currently performing this duty. Whatever level of assistance the Assad government asks for, we will help.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Military and Security
- Ministry of Defense supplies IRGC Navy with new naval craft. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan formally announced that new Ashura-class and Zoulfikar-class fast boats as well as other search and rescue naval craft will be delivered to the IRGC Naval forces. IRNA reported that the IRGC Navy would receive “dozens” of new vessels, while Basij News claimed that it would receive 50 craft. (IRNA) (Basij News) (ABNA) (Fars News Agency)
- Restored helicopters given to Artesh Ground Forces. Artesh Air Force Commander 2C Brig. Gen. Houshang Yari announced that five restored helicopters will be transferred from the Artesh Air Forces to the Artesh Ground Forces. The helicopter models include one Bell 214, two Bell 209s, and two Bell 206s. (Defa Press)
Boroujerdi: Both Parliament and the administration support our missile program. Alaeddin Boroujerdi defended Iran’s missile program in an interview on March 10. Boroujerdi, who is the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission chairman, stated, “America, be certain that we will continue these policies in the future. These policies, especially the IRGC’s missile program, enjoy the support of Parliament and the administration.” He added that “policies have been adopted that increase this deterrence capability day by day.”
- Boroujerdi referred to assertions that the IRGC’s recent missile tests violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran to refrain from activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Boroujerdi stated that Iran’s missile tests “conflict with neither the JCPOA nor the Security Council resolution.” (IRIB)
- Foreign Ministry: Recent ballistic missile tests were “not at odds with” UNSCR 2231 or JCPOA. Hossein Jaberi Ansari stated that this week’s “Authority of Velayat” military exercises and “the weapons employed in it...are not only not at odds with Iran’s obligations under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], but also are not even contrary to the UN Security Council Resolution 2231.” The Foreign Ministry Spokesman stated, “All of Iran’s short, medium, and long-range ballistic missiles, some of which were used in the ‘Authority of Velayat’ exercises, have been devices of conventional defense and exclusively for legitimate defense. None of them were designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile program is not in conflict with… UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and its attachments.” (ISNA)
Parliament to review emergency budget on Monday. Parliament is scheduled to review the Rouhani administration’s emergency budget during an open session of Parliament on March 14. The emergency budget is expected to provide the government with short-term funds in the absence of an annual budget. Hardliner parliamentarians have criticized the Rouhani administration for failing to present its annual budget on time for parliamentary approval. According to procedure, the administration was required to submit the annual budget to Parliament for review by Azar 15 (≈ December 6 of last year). (Tasnim News Agency)
- Separately, Parliamentary Joint Budget Commission member Mohammad Reza Pour Ebrahimi stated that Parliament is likely to conclude its review of the annual budget for the next Iranian year, which begins on March 20, “by the end of next week.” President Rouhani presented the annual budget to Parliament on January 17.
- The Parliamentary Joint Commission for the Five-Year development plan is set to review the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan on March 14. Rouhani Administration Spokesperson Mohammad Bagher Nobakht will be in attendance. (Tasnim News Agency) (ISNA)