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: Abbas Araghchi stated that EU, U.S. and the U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran must be removed in the event of a nuclear deal. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei wrote an open letter to al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi.

After his March 28 meeting with the foreign ministers of Germany and France, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “Now, we have a better understanding of these issues; with a shared understanding, we can go towards a solution.” On March 29, Zarif met with his British counterpart, and the P5+1 foreign ministers convened. Zarif and his P5+1 counterparts will meet on March 31.

Commenting on the ongoing talks, International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Supreme Leader Abbas Araghchi stated that “no agreement has been reached…for most of the issues a solution has been found, but we have not found a solution for two of the three issues.” Araghchi emphasized that “this will not be a two-step agreement.” Araghchi also specified that “the six [U.N. Security Council] sanctions resolutions against Iran must be removed, and European and American economic sanctions must also certainly be removed.”

In a March 28 open letter to al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei congratulated Ansar Allah, the political wing of the al Houthis and said their resistance is part of the real Islamic Awakening. Rezai also condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen. The letter is not a pledge to support the Houthis with arms, but rather a statement of moral support. Meanwhile, Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani canceled his previously-planned trip to Riyadh in protest of the Saudi airstrikes.


Nuclear Talks

  • P5+1 Foreign Ministers met on Sunday. The foreign ministers of the P5+1 met in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to RIA Novosti News Agency, an unnamed source claimed that Tehran and the P5+1 countries agreed that negotiations will continue until Tuesday. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Deputy-level U.S.-Iran talks held. Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi and Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi met with their U.S. counterpart, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Iran concerned over the removal of sanctions. According to RIA Novosti News Agency, an unnamed source in Lausanne has said that there are still “some obstacles in the nuclear talks” and “Iran is concerned about the mechanism of cancelling sanctions.” Yesterday, Abbas Araghchi stated that Tehran is asking for the removal of sanctions as part of a nuclear agreement, while Ali Akbar Salehi also said that a nuclear agreement would be impossible without a removal of sanctions. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Abbas Araghchi: “no agreement has been reached.” Abbas Araghchi said that talks have been progressing well; an agreement had not been reached.
    • “No agreement has yet been reached, but rumors and an atmosphere have been created with a specific political objectives; but what is certain is that we still have not reached an agreement… for most of the issues a solution has been found, but we have not found a solution for two of three issues.”
    • “There will not be a two-step agreement. The intention is a solution for all of the issues to be found and written.”
    • Arachghi on two goals at the talks: “In our discussions and a possible agreement, we are looking to show and verify that our peaceful nuclear program is exclusively peaceful in nature. The next issue is the removal of sanctions which were established to target Iran’s nuclear program.”
    • The issue of Iran’s nuclear program and the confidence building capacity of Iran’s enrichment is being considered - the nuclear stockpiles, Iran’s enriched material and how to monitor them, our nuclear installation in Natanz and Fordow, and the Arak heavy water research reactor; solutions must be found for them and confirmed of their peaceful nature and confidence gained.”
    • “In return, sanctions must be removed. European, American, and [U.N.] Security Council sanctions are of significant political and legal importance.”
    • “The six [U.N. Security Council] sanctions resolutions against Iran must be removed and European and American economic sanctions must also certainly be removed and cancelled.”
    • On reaching an agreement that is good for everyone: “When an agreement is reached, each side should be able to agree on defending their own country and to announce it has reached its objectives.” (YJC)
  • Zarif and Hammond met on Sunday. Foreign Minister Zarif met with his British counterpart Philip Hammond to talk about the nuclear issue. Zarif also met with his Chinese and German counterparts Wang Yi and Frank-Walter Steeinmeier today. Because Foreign Minister Hammond was the last to arrive to the talks, the P5+1 meeting will be postponed until tomorrow. (IRNA)
    • Zarif met with Lavrov. Foreign Minister Zarif met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov late Sunday night immediately following his meeting with Hammond. (Mehr News Agency)
  • Zarif: “with a shared understanding, we can go towards a solution.” After his meeting with the German and French foreign ministers on March 28, Foreign Minister Zarif stated, “…I feel that the other side entered the issue with the same interest.” He stated, “Now, we have a better understanding of the issues; with a shared understanding, we can go towards a solution.” Zarif continued, “Considering that the friends want to play a direct role both in a [nuclear] solution and in future relations, good points were raised on how to advance the work and depart from difficulties.” (Ministry of Foreign Relations)
  • Velayati: Americans realized negotiating was the only option. Asked why the Supreme Leader had previously stated that “the Americans need to negotiate with Iran,” the Supreme Leader’s Foreign Policy Advisor responded: “The reason they need to negotiate with Iran is that there is no other way than negotiating. In fact, all other ways have been tried and have failed. They tried the threat of war, why did they not act? Because their experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan…showed that if they want to intervene in the region, they must pay a high cost. In Iraq, they introduced damage…but they themselves also incurred large costs and were eventually forced to retreat.” Ali Akbar Velayati said that the U.S. determined that “Iran is far stronger than Iraq and Afghanistan, and [concluded] not to go against Iran - [that] military work is done.” (Mehr News)  
  • Iran to announce exact number of centrifuges after March 31 deadline. An Iranian source close to the negotiations purportedly told Sputnik News that the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to operate under the nuclear deal is “close” to 6,000. The source added, “Today, we may reach an agreement on a solution on this matter, but the details need to be specified later.” The source also said that while Iran and the P5+1 continue to work on a deal, it is not clear whether the “Western-imposed” sanctions will be “problematic” or not. (Tasnim News Agency)


Military and Security

  • Brig. Gen. Esmaili announces development of anti-aircraft equipment. Artesh Khatam ol Anbia Air Base Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Farzad Esmaili visited the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant’s Imam Reza Air Defense Group and discussed anti-aircraft missiles, radars, artillery, and optical developments. Esmaili expressed his satisfaction with the development of new air-defense systems and applauded the efforts of the group’s employees. He added, “The development of sites and defensive positions is incomparable to previous years.” (Defa Press)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Mohsen Rezaei writes open letter to Abdul Malik al Houthi. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former senior IRGC commander praised the leader of Yemen’s al Houthis in an open letter on March 28. Rezaei congratulated Ansar Allah, the political wing of the al Houthis, and said their resistance is part of the real Islamic Awakening. Rezaei also condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen and said, “…the justifications and arguments made by the Saudi government for attacking Yemen are so empty, flimsy and false… Who recognizes a fled resigned president as a pretext for military action that will leave thousands of innocent people slaughtered?” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Rafsanjani cancels upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called off his previously planned to trip to Riyadh. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen and said that his trip was cancelled in protest of Riyadh’s decision to take military action against Yemen. (Mashregh News)
  • IRGC commander denounces Saudi regime for killing children in Yemen. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagherzadeh criticized the Saudi-led airstrikes and Riyadh’s lack of strategic depth. The Armed Forces General Staff Search for the Missing Committee Commander said, "This aggression is playing with fire and the al Saud regime will never be able to bring Yemen under its control… "This war will have dire repercussions for American and Saudi interests in the future just like the wars in Syria and Iraq." (ISNA)
  • Tehran summons Turkish envoy over Erdogan’s remarks. Marzieh Afkham announced that Tehran has summoned Turkey’s chargé d'affaires after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Iran of pursuing hegemonic strategies in the region on March 26. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said that Iran wanted to state its “objection to Erdogan's comments” and to receive a clear explanation. (Foreign Ministry)
  • Kowsari: Erdogan’s trip to Tehran should be canceled. Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari said that President Erdogan’s upcoming trip to Iran should be canceled until he clarifies his recent remarks. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member added: “If the Foreign Ministry does not cancel the President of Turkey’s trip to Iran, Parliament will address this matter next week.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Iranian Parliamentary delegation met with Chairman of Oman’s Parliament. An Iranian Parliamentary delegation held a meeting with the Chairman of Oman’s Parliament on the sidelines of the 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Vietnam. Vice Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Ahmad Reza Dastgheib praised the relationship and parliamentary cooperation, and called for increased trade and economic relations between the two countries. Oman’s Parliamentary Chairman said that relations with Iran were “friendly” and that Iran and Oman were two important countries that work well together on regional and international developments, particularly concerning Iraq and Syria. Dastgheib also met and held a discussion about bilateral and international issues with the Parliamentary Chairman of Venezuela.
    • On Yemen: Dastgheib stated, “The unfortunate events of recent days in Yemen are harmful to peace and regional stability and regional countries should strive to restore peace and serenity to the country… and in resolving regional conflicts, Iran and Oman can have good cooperation.” Oman’s Parliamentary speaker added that “all countries should work together to resolve the crisis in Yemen.”
    • On the nuclear talks: Dastgheib said, “Good progress has been made in this area and there is political will by the Islamic Republic of Iran for a just resolution on the nuclear issue and the removal of cruel sanctions against the people of Iran.” Meanwhile, Oman’s parliament speaker called for a swift resolution to the nuclear issue and a removal of sanctions.
    • During the meeting, a representative from the Assyrian minority group drew attention to the harsh conditions facing Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria and said, “Iran was for centuries a haven for Assyrians and other religious minorities and I wish the region were modelled after this situation.” (ISNA)
  • Rafsanjani deplores attack on Yemen. Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani denounced accusations of Iran’s supposed involvement, presence, or military support in Yemen and called them “outrageous slanders.” He said, “In fact, invasion of this country [Yemen] is fueling and exacerbating religious differences in the region.” Rafsanjani noted that Iran’s support for Yemen is limited to humanitarian aid. (IRNA)
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