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 Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key Takeaway: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that there is no solution to the nuclear issue other than negotiation and censured President Barack Obama’s requirements on the Iranian nuclear program as “threatening.” Parliament approved a $ 303 billion dollar budget, allocating an additional$1 billion to the defense budget, while cutting roughly $1 billion in subsidies.

Foreign Minister Zarif stated that, “without a doubt, the world’s only choice for a nuclear solution, is negotiation; apart from this way, no choice exists.” Zarif, meanwhile, highlighted the current bilateral U.S.-Iran talks in Montreaux, Switzerland, as “a good opportunity” for himself and Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss “a method for complete removal of sanctions.” Zarif echoed the Supreme Leader’s bottom-line—complete removal of sanctions fora nuclear deal.  Zarif also reacted strongly to President Obama’s March 2 statement that Iran must commit to a 10-year freeze of sensitive elements of its nuclear program in order for a deal to be made, arguing the statement was “unacceptable and threatening” and made for the purposes of American public opinion.

Parliament approved a $303 billion dollar budget for next fiscal year; an additional $1 billion was allocated to the defense budget to strengthen the armed forces, which reinforces the Supreme Leader’s call to build up the regime’s military capabilities The budget cuts subsidies from roughly $15 to $14 billion. The budget will now pass to the Guardian Council for approval.


Official Statements

  • Zarif stresses: the world has no alternative to negotiations issue Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, that “Without a doubt the world’s only choice for a nuclear solution, is negotiation; apart from this way, no choice exists.” Of the current round of U.S.-Iran talks taking place in Montreaux, Switzerland, Zarif stated, “Given the presence of the two countries’ high-level technical teams in the last round of negotiations, we could make clearer some of the topics, or find a solution to some issues; this round will be an opportunity to talk about the remaining technical issues.”  The Foreign Minister noted, “This round of the nuclear negotiations is a good opportunity for the two [foreign] ministers to talk about political topics, especially a method for complete removal of sanctions.” Zarif also said, ““We hope that we can take basic steps in these negotiations.” (Mehr News )
  • Zarif: Obama’s comments on nuclear negotiations “unacceptable and threatening.” On March 2, President Obama stated that Iran must commit to a 10-year freeze of sensitive elements of its nuclear program in order for a deal to be made. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded: “The statements of Mr. Obama clearly reflect the fact that the United States of America, which has applied direct and indirect military threats and several cruel and illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, have come to a conclusion that the policy of threat and sanction has failed; and these kind of measures have not been able to, and will not be able to, deal with the firm determination and ambition of the nation of Iran in pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology and developments in the field of its operation.” It is clear that Mr. Obama’s position for America’s public opinion and against the Prime Minister of the Zionist regime’s propaganda… has been raised in the form of unacceptable and threating words and phrases.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Kowsari: America no longer dares to deploy its forces in the region. Parliamentarian Esmail Kowsari criticized U.S. foreign policy and blamed it for tainting the image of Islam. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission member said that ISIS is “running away” from Iraq because of the growing volunteer Iraqi forces. Kowsari added that, through the leadership of Imam Khomeini and Supreme Leader Khamenei, “Our enemies… have been hit in way that today, America no longer dares to bring its troops to the region.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Basij Commander says Iran will not be subjugated by any power. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi praised the ‘Resistance’ for disrupting the enemies’ regional plans and criticized the West for its double-standards. The Basij Organization Commander stated that the US and its allies used ISIS to exacerbate the Shi’a-Sunni rift. Naghdi stressed the Iranian spirit of resistance and said, “The slogans chanted 100 years ago by [Iranian] tribes opposed to the British, reached the Islamic Revolution, and today we hear them in Iraq and Yemen.” (Fars News Agency)



Nuclear Talks

  • Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks continue in Montreaux, Switzerland. Talks are occurring at the ministerial and deputy ministerial level, as well as between U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi, ahead of the March 5 P5+1 negotiations.   (Fars News Agency)
  • Rafsanjani: “The negotiating team is dealing with the devil.” Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani touted the regime’s steadfastness in the face of sanctions at the National Conference on Sustainable and Balanced Regional Development. He stated that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has been continuously faced with sanctions and “Today, the conditions are available for the state, and [even] with these sanctions we can [develop] [the country’s] construction program.” Rafsanjani added that people have a right to sustainable development and people should be living similarly and close to each other. Regarding the state budget, Rafsanjani said that the government should provide the necessary services to the people and added, “I don’t agree that banks don’t have the money to offer these services.” 
    • Emphasizing the lack of empathy in Iran today, Rafsanjani said, “We must understand that the negotiating team’s job is hard because the other side is evil and skilled.” Rafsanjani added that on top of this, “Netanyahu is pressuring Obama.” (Mehr News)
  • Iran on IAEA meeting agenda. The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) Board of Governors met for its second working day in Vienna to discuss “technical cooperation and nuclear verification;” the topic of Iran will be on either today or tomorrow’s agenda. The IAEA “confirmed the non-deviation of Iran’s declared nuclear activities, which operate under IAEA safeguards.” (Fars News Agency)



Domestic Politics

  • Parliament approves government proposed budget for next fiscal year. The bill proposing a nearly $303 billion budget will now proceed to the Guardian Council for approval.  (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Parliament announces defense budget bill. Parliament allocated $1 billion to the defense budget for strengthening the armed forces in the upcoming fiscal year. (ISNA)
  • Subsidies fell from roughly $15 billion to $14 billion. Parliament passed next fiscal year’s budget bill implementing reduced cash and non-cash subsidies, after reviewing the provisions of the costs of the bill. Subsidies for high-income families in particular will be cut. The subsidies are designed to help needy families as well as to provide assistance to the manufacturing sector. (Mehr News)
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