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: The Supreme Leader reiterated his support for the nuclear talks and announced Iran’s New Year motto: “Government and Nation; Harmony and Unanimity.”

The Supreme Leader called for enhanced synergy between the Iranian people and the government during his New Year’s address. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the need for nationwide “Harmony and Unanimity” in order to overcome economic challenges facing Iran. Khamenei welcomed constructive criticism of the administration through cordial dialogue, adding: “…criticism should be expressed within a logical framework.” Khamenei voiced his support for the Rouhani administration; however, he stated: “… I give nobody a blank check and I will judge and act based on performance.” Khamenei also reiterated that the country must strengthen its economy by implementing his “economic resistance” strategy, with a particular focus on utilizing existing “domestic capabilities.”

The Supreme Leader reiterated his support for the P5+1 nuclear negotiations and claimed that the U.S. desperately needs a deal with Iran. Khamenei, meanwhile, reinforced his redline, demanding the complete removal of economic sanctions and stated that the regime will not engage in dialogue outside of the nuclear subject. He explicitly stated his opposition to cooperating with the U.S. on regional issues: “Negotiations with the Americans are only on the nuclear issue and nothing else. We do not talk about regional issues as their [the U.S.] goal is counter to our [goals]…America seeks instability in the region.” The Supreme Leader’s speech underscored the regime’s concerted effort to project a strengthened position at the negotiations table by claiming Iran is inured to economic sanctions, while touting its growing regional influence. 


Official Statements

  • Supreme Leader’s motto for New Year: “Government and Nation; Harmony and Unanimity.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech marking the Iranian New Year on March 21 at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province. The Supreme Leader called for national unity and added:
    • “All should demonstrate consensus and help the government, especially when the country is facing important issues and significant challenges.”
    • “People should fully support the legal and legitimate government, and officials should, in turn, exercise patience vis-à-vis logical criticism.”
    • “Criticism should not be such that it would cause public mistrust of officials. Nor should it be insulting and violent.”
    • “Of course, these pieces of advice are for both sides. Officials in all three branches [of government] should respect these limits and treat their critics without any insult and humiliation because humiliating detractions from officials runs counter to prudence and wisdom.”
    • “I don’t invite our dear people to indifference, but rather, I call upon all of them to be involved in the country’s affairs and I insist that both people and officials should not behave in an insulting and humiliating manner.”
    • “It would not be wrong for some individuals to be concerned over certain issues in the country and there are no restrictions to that effect; but it should not lead to finger-pointing and disregard for efforts and services. Meanwhile, the administration and its supporters should not insult those who express their misgivings.”
    • “The current administration, like its predecessors, has critics. That is okay and some people who are opposed to the method, behavior; words and policy of this administration are free to criticize. However, criticism should be expressed within a logical framework.”
    • “I personally have been critical of different administrations and I have not hesitated to give notices wherever necessary, but I have expressed my notices in a proper manner.”
    • “I support this administration too, but I give nobody a blank check and I will judge and act based on performance.”
    • On sanctions:  “Scientific progress in recent years, including the startup of industrially sophisticated projects like Phase 12 of the South Pars [gas field] and the unveiling of new equipment during military exercises was stunning to the enemies and all happened at a time when all ill-wishers imagined that Iran was under crippling sanctions.”
    • On challenges facing Iran: “One of the main challenges currently facing the country is the issue of the national economy and solving people’s economic and livelihood problems, which requires serious action.”
    • “The ill-wishers of the Iranian nation have said openly that their objective behind economic pressure is a political one, which is to cause discontent among people and disrupt national security by pitting people against the government and the establishment.”
    • The four major points on how to face economic challenges: “According to one viewpoint, economic development and prosperity should be achieved by using local potential; this [viewpoint] has so far been ignored or received little attention.”
    • “The second viewpoint is the exact opposite. It maintains that economic prosperity and development is possible through an outward look and that we should reconsider our foreign policy and compromise with arrogant powers and accept their bullying, so that the economic problems could be solved.”
    • “This second viewpoint is totally erroneous, ineffective and useless.”
    • “The existing Western sanctions against the Iranian nation are a clear reason why the viewpoint which says economic prosperity should be sought beyond national borders is wrong. The reason is that foreign powers are never content with any level of imposition and bullying while they also give rise to some abrupt and unexpected issues like plotting to reduce global oil prices in order to harm the country’s economy.”
    • “Today, the ill-wishers of the Iranian nation are making efforts to promote the second viewpoint; that is why the American president, in his New Year message to the Iranian people, says economic prosperity, jobs and business will be created in the country if you [the Iranian people] accept our [U.S.] demands in the nuclear talks.”
    • “Looking outside to solve economic problems will never pay off. Therefore, we should always seek to tap the country’s domestic potentialities and the ‘resistance economy,’ which was welcomed by all economists, is evidence of the domestic capabilities and possibilities of the country and the nation.”
    • Third major point - domestic production: “The most important objective officials and people should focus upon this year is to make efforts to boost domestic production.”
    • “Supporting medium-sized and small-sized enterprises, bolstering knowledge-based enterprises, campaigning for lower sales of raw materials, facilitating investment, reducing imports of consumer goods and fighting smuggling are options for supporting domestic production. Of course, banks can be both supportive and destructive. Therefore, senior banking officials should pay due attention to this issue.”
    • “The officials should carry out these difficult tasks because the issue of economy and economic prosperity is important.”
    • “Shifting investment funds towards production and consumption of domestically-manufactured products and avoiding extravagance are among the approaches to boost domestic production.”
    • Fourth major point: “Sanctions are the only tool for the enemy to confront the Iranian nation. Therefore, if plans are made with insight and by relying on domestic manpower, the impact of sanctions will be reduced and sanctions will be useless at last.”
    • “If government officials, people and economic activists make endeavors and public media help them, we will see that the sanctions will not be able to keep the Iranian nation from progress.”
    • On nuclear negotiations:  “The Americans desperately need these negotiations and their internal disputes are because the rival faction of the incumbent American administration is making efforts so that the advantage gained through these negotiations will not be registered in the track record of its rival party.”
    • “In his message, the American president says there are people in Iran who oppose a diplomatic settlement of the nuclear issue. That’s false because in Iran, nobody is opposed to the resolution of the nuclear issue through negotiations. What the Iranian nation is opposed to is the bullying and imposition of demands by the U.S. government, but the nation is standing up to them.”
    • “We will by no means negotiate with the U.S. about domestic and regional issues and the issue of arms, because American policy in the region is aimed at creating insecurity and confronting regional nations and the Islamic Awakening. That is contrary to the pivotal policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
    • On the irreversibility of an agreement:  “The lifting of the sanctions is part of the negotiations and not the result of the talks. Therefore, as the esteemed president made clear, the sanctions should be lifted immediately after an agreement is reached.”
    • “Iran’s nuclear industry is a domestic and popular industry which has to move ahead, as progress is an inherent part of every industry and technology.”
    • “The behavior of the Americans also serves as a lesson for intellectuals in the country [Iran] so that they realize who we are negotiating with and how the U.S. is behaving.”
    • On threats from the U.S.: “…threats do not scare the Iranian nation because the nation is resisting and will emerge the winner from this big test.”
    • “The government and the nation shoulder heavy responsibilities. Among them is the issue of Islamic unity, helping oppressed nations and expanding the spiritual influence of Islam in the region, of which the Iranian nation is a standard-bearer today.”
    • On compartmentalized talks: “Negotiations with the Americans are only on the nuclear issue and nothing else. We do not talk about regional issues as their [the U.S.] goal is counter to our [goals]…America seeks instability in the region.” (


  • Rouhani to the people: respect and obey the Supreme Leader. In an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani stated:
    • “I invite all the [Iranian] people and officials [to give] full respect to and fully comply with the guidance of the Supreme Leader.”
    • “Through its magnificent presence during the political epic of 24 Khordad 1392 [June 15 2013, the date Rouhani was elected president], the nation expressed its desire to trust the electoral mechanism to express its wishes; through a meaningful vote, it [the nation] chose a moderate dialogue, and will ensure the increasing success of its government by continuing its presence in all scenes.”
    • On sanctions: “We thank God that under international pressure and regional challenges, the success of the last year and half is with the help of the people, the conditions of sanctions on the country have become the field of economic resistance of this country. With the curbing of inflation and the beginning of economic prosperity, a message is being sent to those imposing sanctions that they are being restricted in resorting to sanctions; inevitably they [those imposing sanctions] will be led to rationally negotiate and change [their] tone [in] the discussion from threats to [respect].”  (
  • Zarif’s remarks on Nowruz and nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Facebook post, “Thanks to the efforts, innovation, and collaboration of officials and experts from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and others, ‘technical and political solutions’ were found to the issues that seemed unsolvable.” Zarif noted Tehran’s readiness to negotiate through the Iranian New Year holiday; however, “negotiators among the P5+1 [countries] requested more time for internal coordination due in some cases to differences in interests and political affiliations or personal issues and personalities.” Zarif expressed hope that details would be finalized in the next round of talks scheduled to start March 25 in Geneva. (ISNA)
  • Kowsari: Western side wants the possibility to remove sanctions in the next 10-15 years. Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the timeframe for the removal of sanctions: “The Western side wants negotiations concerning Iran’s obligation of ‘verification’ and it is something that should be implemented, but if what they wanted was not applied in 10-15 years, sanctions cannot be cancelled.” The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member reiterated the Supreme Leader’s recent remarks by claiming that the “the main topic of discussion is the removal of sanctions” and not the negotiations themselves. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Ali Larijani comments on return of Iranian border guard’s body. Parliament Speaker expressed his condolences to the slain border guard Jamshid Danaeifar’s family and congratulated ongoing efforts made by intelligence and Iranian security forces to retrieve the body and capture some of the suspects involved in the execution. (ABNA)


Nuclear Talks

  • Araghchi urges opposite side to be ‘unified’ in nuclear negotiations. In response to comments that Iran has not made the necessary concessions, International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said, “We are at a ‘critical’ stage in the negotiations and it is natural for certain people to make these types of remarks to influence the process of negotiations.” However, he said, “What is clear, is that neither side is expected to give any concessions to the other side, especially Iran.” Araghchi also said:
    • The ultimate purpose of the negotiations is for the other side to respect and recognize Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program and the removal of sanctions. He stressed the necessity for coordination among the opposite side in order to enable them to reach a consensus. He pointed to the other side’s lack of ‘harmony’ in their political views in the latest round of talks.
    • “We believe that if the coordination exists and the political will is there, then an agreement is attainable.”
    • In response to President Obama’s comments on the need for verification of Iran’s nuclear program, Araghchi said, “If an agreement is reached, there will need to be verification on both sides.”
    • Araghchi stressed that Iran has complied with the obligations of the IAEA and said the other side must prove that it will remove sanctions.
    • In regards to Obama’s comments that Iran should adhere to irreversible commitments, Araghchi said, “Any agreement obtained must surely be balanced and equal…if it is to be irreversible then it must be irreversible for both parties.”
    • Finally, he said, “Technical solutions have been found, however, efforts still remain to find political solutions. “The two go hand in hand,” he added. (IRNA)


Military and Security

  • IRGC releases a statement denying allegations about Qassem Soleimani. The IRGC released a statement denying that IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani made remarks concerning Iranian influence on the region, including Jordan, on March 22. The IRGC stated that, “due to negative public opinion inside and outside of the country, the IRGC will pursue legal action for the false reports” made by “some media outlets.” (Sepah News)
  • Artesh Navy repels pirate attack. On March 20, pirates on board two boats attacked and attempted to possess an Iranian tanker several times near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Gulf of Aden, forcing the vessel to stop. The pirates fled after an Artesh Navy protective unit designated for commercial vessels was dispatched to guard the vessels, but returned 3 hours later with six speedboats armed with semi-heavy weapons. The pirates were forced to retreat after hours of intense fighting. (Defa Press)
  • MOIS officers recover body of kidnapped Iranian border guard. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) announced that the body of Iranian border guard Jamshid Danaeifar has been recovered from Pakistan. Danaeifar was kidnapped, while on duty in Sistan va Baluchistan in February 2014, and was executed by Jaish al Adl terrorists in Pakistan in March of 2014. (


Domestic Politics

  • Supreme Leader’s sister passes away. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s sister Fatemeh Hosseini Khamenei died at the age of 89 in Tehran on March 21. (


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Rouhani receives condolences from Iraqi Prime Minister upon mother’s death. Prime Minister Haider al Abadi offered his condolences to President Hassan Rouhani after the passing of his mother. Al Abadi also emphasized the necessity for expanded ties in all areas between Tehran and Baghdad and thanked Tehran for its continued support in the fight against terrorism. (YJC)


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