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 contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks occurred on March 15 and 16 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani indicated that a nuclear deal may be reached if the P5+1 has a “similar political will” as Iran, and “does not make excessive demands.”
Bilateral Iran-U.S. talks took place in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 15, attended by AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernst Muniz as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also met on March 16 in Lausanne before Zarif headed to Brussels to meet with his German, French, and British counterparts.
Zarif stated, “If the other party’s political will is similar to that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it will not be difficult to reach an agreement.” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also indicated that if the P5+1 “…does not make excessive demands, the negotiators can reach an agreement,” but maintained that if an agreement was not reached, “the world would not come to end… we will go after other solutions.” Larijani also criticized the March 9 letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators as “immature,” and contrasted American negative reactions to the letter with the Iranian “united view based on national interests.”
The Guardian Council approved the amendments to next fiscal year’s budget. The new budget will go into effect on March 21, 2015, the first day of the Iranian calendar year.
Ali Larijani believes a nuclear deal could be reached. The Parliament Speaker held a press conference to discuss the economy, next year’s budget, the P5+1 nuclear negotiations, the March 9 open letter to Iranian leaders signed by 47 Republican senators, and a number of domestic issues.
- “I do not have a pessimistic on view on the subject [reaching a nuclear deal]. Many steps have been taken and if the other side [P5+1] does not make excessive demands, the negotiators can reach an agreement.”
- “If we do not reach an agreement the world will not come to end, we are now living without such a comprehensive agreement and if an agreement is not reached, we will go after other solutions."
- On next year’s budget: Ali Larijani pointed to the budget’s declining dependence on oil and said: “One of our achievements is that the country has shifted towards exports and we hope to follow this path.”
- “$1.2 billion from the Development Fund has been allocated for the strengthening of defenses.”
- “$200 million has been allocated to the Export Sponsorship Fund.”
- On Parliament discord over a potential nuclear deal: “The Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] has the permission of the Supreme Leader to advance the nuclear case.”
- “…both the government and Parliament will coordinate on this matter that is under the noble Supreme Leader and will continue on the same path.”
- When asked whether or not a nuclear deal has to pass through Parliament, Larijani said: “Our constitution is a special structure… We are conscious of our constitution and in this fact if our negotiators reach a good agreement we will support it.”
- “Economic growth and production are the most important issues. What is of concern is to create mechanisms leading to economic reform.”
- On the regional impact of a nuclear deal: When asked if a deal with the P5+1 will increase Iran’s influence in the Arab world, Larijani said: “The nuclear issue is a separate case and the kind of relationships we have with countries in the region is based on logic. “Iran’s capabilities will always be on the side of the region.”
- "Iran doesn’t have hegemonic plans or intentions to dominate any country and has shown this approach ever since the  Revolution; the fight against hegemony is a pillar of the Islamic Revolution."
- "We are assisting Iraq because it is our friend and neighbor that has been held captive by a terrorist group today; of course the Iraqi people are brave and the advances that they have made in fighting the terrorists have been the result of their own efforts and our support."
- “If we are helping the Palestinians in their fight against the Zionist regime, it is because they requested our help aiding them with defending their country and standing against their enemies.”
- Response to the Republican senators’ letter: “What the American senators did was immature.”
- “Americans also said that it was obscene, there should not be an expectation to mimic the mistake of the American senators. Our nuclear negotiations team is too focused on the topic [at hand]…”
- “Over 200,000 American people have called the 47 senators traitors to their country. But in Iran a united view based on national interests is ruling the case and the strategies.”
On corruption: “The issue of the fight against corruption should be considered a national problem and if this matter becomes a source for political conflict it will lead to nowhere.” (Mashregh News)
- Rafsanjani likens internal critics of the nuclear deal to U.S. senators. Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani drew similarities between the rhetoric used by critics inside Iran and that used in the letter by US senators, whom he said were circumventing negotiations and warmongering. Rafsanjani had earlier chastised internal critics of the nuclear negotiations, saying that they speak on the same lines as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He added that the Israeli lobby’s influence in Congress is powerful and persuasive. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Velayati: The foreign policy of the Islamic Revolution is truly transnational. The Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader and Secretary-General of the Islamic Awakening Council stated, “The Islamic Revolution’s view in foreign policy is not only not an ethnic and tribal view and the promotion of nationalist ideas, but also geography and territorial boundaries have no place in the idea of the Islamic Revolution; the Islamic Revolution’s viewpoint recognizes the entire Islamic world as one body known as the Islamic ummah [community], and all Muslims are brothers with one another, and in this brotherhood, no racial difference exists between black and white, Persian, Arab, Turk, Tajiks….all enjoy the same and equal rights.” Velayati decried “irresponsible remarks contrary to this belief” made by “some people” which “have caused misuse of the media by some specific networks;” specifically, those who misinterpret “the help and assistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the fight against terrorism and advisory services…” (Velayati.ir)
- Tehran condemns terrorist bombing in Pakistan. Marzieh Afkham expressed sympathy for victims of a terrorist attack in a Christian district near Lahore, Pakistan that killed and wounded a number of civilians. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always advocated for peaceful coexistence between religions. (YJC)
- Guardian Council approves next year’s budget. Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Bahonar announced that the Guardian Council approved amendments to the 2015 budget bill. The new budget will go into effect on March 21, 2015, the first day of the Iranian calendar year. (YJC)
- 260 parliamentarians sign statement on the cancellation of sanctions. 260 parliamentarians thus far have signed a statement calling for the removal of all sanctions as a prerequisite to an agreement on the nuclear issue. Nuclear Parliamentary Committee Chairman Ebrahim Karkhanei said, “In this statement, the outright cancellation of all sanctions is proposed.” He added: “Iran’s Security Council dossier should be closed and returned to normal as a prerequisite to implement a comprehensive agreement...In case of any breach of obligations by the opposing party, enrichment at the initial level should be resumed.” (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
- Brig. Gen. Pourdastan says forces in the West prepared to meet any threat. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan noted that Iran shares borders with many countries, and said Artesh Ground Forces units, particularly in Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Khuzestan, and Elam provinces, are highly prepared to deal with any possible movement or situation. Pourdastan emphasized that the forces in western Iran have proven they have the necessary power and strength to defend the honor of Islam. (Mehr News)
- Iran begins mass production of its “Qadir” cruise missiles. The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces (MODAFL) started producing the domestically-made “Qadir” anti-ship cruise missile with an effective range of 300km. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan and IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi attended the launching ceremony. (Sepah News)
- Interior Ministry Spokesman: members of subversive group arrested in Sistan va Baluchistan. Hossein Ali Amiri announced the arrest of members of an “anti-security team” in Sistan va Baluchistan province. The Interior Ministry spokesman said that despite security concerns in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria, Iran’s internal security conditions are good and Iranians are safe. Amiri added that members of such groups throughout the country including in Kermanshah, Kurdistan and Sistan va Baluchistan have been surrendering in increasing numbers. He also said that investigations are ongoing into the March 7 attack on reformist Parliamentarian Ali Motahari, who was traveling to Shiraz to give a speech at a university when his car was attacked. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Iran-U.S. nuclear talks take place in Lausanne on March 15. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Muniz, Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi, AEOI Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman attended the talks. (Dolat.ir)
- Following his meeting with American Secretary of Energy Ernst Muniz, AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi said that he is “very optimistic about the ongoing negotiations.” (Fars News Agency)
Kerry and Zarif hold bilateral talks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in Lausanne on March 16. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi, Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernst Muniz, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman also attended the meeting.
- Asked to “predict the outcome of the new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1,” Zarif stated, “If the other party’s political will is similar to that of Islamic Republic of Iran, it is not difficult to reach an agreement.” Zarif also stated, “We will have major discussions in the next few days, but in these days we must reach solutions [closing the gaps to reach a political agreement] as possible; those solutions must be detailed in writing, in order to reach the phase of codifying the agreement.” Zarif also said, “It should be noted that reaching solutions does not mean that the agreement is comprehensive.”
- Araghchi also stated, “Despite progress which has occurred in the recent cycle of talks, serious gaps and disparities still persist.”
- After his meeting with Kerry, Foreign Minister Zarif is heading to Brussels for a meeting with his German, French and British counterparts, “hosted by” EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini. (Mehr News) (IRNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Economic and Finance Minister meets Syrian President Assad. Ali Tayeb Nia met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus today to discuss “strategic economic cooperation” and expanding economic ties between Iran and Syria. The Syrian President praised Iran’s support and stated Syrians “…have no option but to defend the homeland and any honest and practical change in the international position is positive. Real change begins when countries halt logistical and political support to the terrorists.” In response to John Kerry’s recent remarks on negotiating the peace process in Syria, Assad said “we will continue to listen to their remarks and wait for them to take action.” Tayeb Nia said that Iran’s cooperation with Syria is in all areas and is “far-reaching, deeply rooted, and unbreakable.” He also expressed solidarity with Syria in confronting the “Zionist project in the region” and stated that “victory against terrorists is the main factor in the return of peace and security to the region.” (ABNA)