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: The U.S. indicted seven Iranians for conducting cyber attacks against U.S. financial institutions and a dam located near New York City. The U.S. also sanctioned eight additional entities for supporting Iran’s missile program.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven Iranian nationals allegedly linked to the Iranian government for a “coordinated cyber assault” on 46 banks and other U.S. financial institutions from 2011 to 2013. One of the seven was also charged with attempting to gain access to the control systems of a dam near New York City. The Critical Threats Project detailed the IT infrastructure of Iranian hacking networks in an April 15 report, “The Growing Cyberthreat from Iran: The Initial Report of Project Pistachio Harvest.” Separately, a U.S. district court charged Ahmad Sheikhzadeh, a consultant to Iran’s mission to the United Nations, for “conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, money laundering, and helping arrange false tax returns.” 

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned an additional two individuals and six firms for their support for Iran’s missile program and U.S.-designated airline Mahan Air. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two Iran-based subordinates of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which “is responsible for Iran’s liquid-fueled ballistic missile program.” OFAC sanctioned two individuals and two firms based in the United Kingdom and two firms based in the United Arab Emirates for assisting Mahan Air in circumventing sanctions. The U.S. has accused “Mahan Air of transporting funds and arms” for the IRGC.

Paul Bucala and Frederick W. Kagan debunk Iran’s repeated assertion that it is only training, advising, and assisting Syrian forces by analyzing data collected from Iranian media reports on military casualties in the Critical Threats Project’s latest report, “Iran’s Evolving Way of War: How the IRGC Fights in Syria.

Matthew McInnis discusses Iran’s calculations following the partial Russian withdrawal from Syria and the consequences if Russia scales back its use of airpower in his latest blog, “Did Putin just leave Iran holding the bag in Syria?


Military and Security

  • Foreign Ministry criticizes new U.S. sanctions. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jabari Ansari stated, “The Iranian missile program has not been connected with the JCPOA and does not violate UNSC Resolution 2231. The program is purely for defensive purposes; no action will be taken to deprive the Islamic Republic of its legitimate and legal rights to strengthen its defensive capability and national security.” UNSC Resolution 2231 calls upon Iran to refrain from activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. (ISNA)
  • Soleimani attends ceremony in Khuzestan. IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani reportedly attended a ceremony on March 23 in Khuzestan province honoring veterans killed in the Iran-Iraq War. (Donya-e Eqtesad)

Domestic Politics

  • Reformist council calls for Rouhani to protest Guardian Council’s removal of elected parliamentarian. Guardian Council member Siamak Rahpeyk clarified on March 24 that Minoo Khaleghi, who won a seat in Esfahan province in the February 26 parliamentary elections, was “not disqualified, but her votes have been annulled by the Guardian Council.” Rahpeyk did not provide the Guardian Council’s reason for annulling the votes. Iranian media outlets and the governor of Esfahan previously stated that the Guardian Council had dismissed Khaleghi’s qualifications after the elections, which would fall months behind the deadline for the Guardian Council to disqualify prospective candidates.
    • The Reformist Coordination Council in Esfahan Province wrote an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani protesting Khaleghi’s removal. The council wrote that Khaleghi’s “disqualification” is a “stain” and called for Rouhani to “issue the necessary order to avoid the violation of the people’s trust.”
    • Khaleghi issued a statement asserting that she had no contact with the Guardian Council about either her disqualification or her votes’ annulment from the beginning of the race “up until now.” She added that rumors have attacked her “character as a Muslim.” (Donya-e Eqtesad) (Kalame) (Ghatreh)
  • Khatami praises Guardian Council. Hardline Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami defended the Guardian Council’s role in the political system during remarks on March 24. He stated, “We staged a revolution to say to the world that no power and no country can dominate us. This government in our hands is a trust, and the Guardian Council is the trustee of this government.” The Guardian Council is a 12-member body constitutionally charged with vetting electoral candidates and has disproportionately disqualified reformist candidates in recent election cycles. Khatami also stated:
    • “Some thought that Iran would become like a garden if sanctions were lifted. Those who inflated the issue of sanctions and put this erroneous thought into the minds of the people made a heavy mistake.”
    • “The Americans want to impose themselves on us with force. They want to make this world like a village and themselves like the village chief. We must always break their horns with power and weapons of resistance.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Reformist parliamentarian praises conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Massoud Pezeshkian said that Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani “was the best figure in the Parliament” over the last year “because he was extremely influential” in achieving the nuclear deal. When asked whether he thought the parliament speakership would go to Larijani or influential Reformist figure Mohammad Reza Aref, Pezeshkian stated, “Mr. Larijani has shown that he can act and speak reasonably… Larijani does not act in a factional way, and can… even attract the Reformists’ vote for the speakership.” (Donya-e Eqtesad
  • Principlist parliamentarian criticizes hardline Principlists. Mansour Haghighat Pour, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission, ascribed the Principlist coalition’s poor performance in the February 26 elections to disunity. Haghighat Pour stated, “Unfortunately in the Principlist coalition, the principle and concept of unity was sacrificed for a specific, minority mentality in this political current. Today this current still wants to settle accounts with [Parliament Speaker] Ali Larijani.” Hahighat Pour and Larijani are both members of the Followers of the Velayat, a group within the Principlist faction. Larijani, who successfully ran as an independent in the last elections, was heavily criticized by more hardline Principlists for helping facilitate the quick passage of the nuclear deal in Parliament. Haghighat Pour further criticized politicians in the hardline Principlist Steadfastness Front for having “said at the beginning of their electoral activities that they would have nothing to do with Reformists in future elections and would strike at Larijani and his followers.”
    • He also criticized Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a former parliament speaker and spokesman for the Principlist Coalition Council, for affiliating himself with more hardline Principlists.  Haddad Adel lost his seat in Tehran in the parliamentary elections. (ICANA)


  • NIOC and Total sign “confidential accord” for development of South Azadegan Oil Field.Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh announced that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and French multinational oil and gas company Total have signed a “confidential accord” for the development of the South Azadegan Oil Field. (Mehr News Agency)
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