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: Iran and the P5+1 met in Switzerland. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi indicated that the two sides are narrowing technical gaps. Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian indicated Iran is “trying” to pursue cooperation with Saudi Arabia to end the crises in Yemen.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his P5+1 counterparts today in Lausanne, Switzerland. Today is the deadline to reach a political framework outlining a deal; the P5+1 must reach a final deal by June 31. AEOI spokesman Kamalvandi stated that AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are steadily narrowing technical gaps. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei suggested that Israel and Saudi Arabia are undermining the negotiations by pressuring France and the U.K., respectively.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abdollahian indicated Iran is “trying” to pursue cooperation with Saudi Arabia to end the crisis in Yemen. More conciliatory than the initial Iranian reaction to the Saudi airstrikes last week, Abdollahian’s comments are in line with the regime’s previous statements advocating for a negotiated settlement in Yemen. The regime continued to delegitimize the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen; Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated, “Bombing defenseless people and destroying infrastructure will not solve the problems of Yemen.” The Foreign Ministry also denied allegations that Tehran is shipping arms to Yemen, claiming it has only sent humanitarian aid.
Iran and the P5+1 meet on March 31. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his P5+1 counterparts in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Mehr News)
Baeidinejad: talks are centered on “reaching a solution.” Senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Hamid Baeidinejad stated: “texts are regularly exchanged between the negotiating delegations and [nuclear] solutions are discussed. In fact, marathon-like sessions are continued until we reach a final agreement.” When asked about the “status of the negotiations in the case that results are not reached by Tuesday night,” Baeidinejad said that all sides are working on reaching a solution, without this the P5+1 will lose the opportunity.” He stated, “A topic which has arisen at the Foreign Minister-level of negotiations is the possibility of a technical framework; but this has an important political dimension.” (IRNA)
AEOI Spokesman: differences have been minimized. Behrouz Kamalvandi announced that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are steadily narrowing the technical gaps. The AEOI spokesman stated: “We are moving forward although at a slow pace” to resolve the remaining technical issues.(YJC)
Rezaei accuses Israel and Saudi Arabia of undermining the nuclear negotiations. Mohsen Rezaei suggested that certain regional states and the mass media are sabotaging the Tehran-P5+1 talks, and urged the regime to neutralize such attempts. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary claimed that Israel is pressuring France and the Saudis are pressuring the British in order to undermine the negotiations. Rezaei added:
- "Britain and Saudi Arabia have become closer over the past two years and their most important cooperation was meddling in Bahrain's internal affairs. The UK has influenced Saudi Arabia more than any country with regard to the attack on Yemen."
- “It seems that Britain has come to the conclusion that with the help of Saudi Arabia, it should retrieve its regional legacy back from America after 50 years." (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Abdollahian indicates Iran could cooperate with Saudi Arabia to end the conflict in Yemen. In response to the question of “whether Tehran is trying to reach a solution in Yemen with Riyadh,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated, “We are trying” and “we have plans in this regard [reaching a solution with Riyadh].” The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister stated: “Tehran has a plan to end the conflicts [in Yemen].”Abdollahian added: “The flames of war will drag the whole region to play with fire… We believe that the Saudi military attack against Yemen is a strategic mistake." Abdollahian urged all sides to stop the clashes and for Yemeni groups to engage in dialogue. (Tasnim News Agency) (YJC) (Fars News Agency)
Tehran denies allegations of shipping arms to Yemen. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham rejected allegations that Iran sent weapons to Yemen and said that the charges are “completely fabricated.” Afkham stated: “…several civil flights containing medical and health [supplies] to Sana’a have been conducted.” Afkham added that, such allegations do not justify military action and condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Boroujerdi: Saudi airstrikes against Yemen signifies Riyadh’s weakness. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi compared Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to Saddam Hussein and said: “Saudi Arabia must not forget that when Saddam’s [Iraq] invaded Iran, he had help from a lot of countries, but in the end, despite all the aid and support…the whole world witnessed Saddam’s fate.” The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman added that, attacking an oppressed country like Yemen, which has minimal resources is “not a show of power, rather it is a sign of weakness.” (Fars News Agency)
Rafsanjani calls for an end to military strikes in Yemen. Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated, “Bombing defenseless people and destroying infrastructure will not solve the problems of Yemen. No country can profit from war and aggression.” He continued, “If the invaders do not recognize their mistakes soon, this raging fire will be fueled.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Jazayeri reiterates defense capabilities are non-negotiable. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri stated: “Everyone should know that we will not permit inspections of the country’s defense industries.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy added that the armed forces are committed to the Supreme Leader’s redlines. (Fars News Agency)
Zanganeh: Iranian oil industry will progress regardless of sanctions being lifted. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh discussed oil prices, OPEC, and the impact of sanctions on the oil industry:
- On sanctions: “Should sanctions be lifted, we can leap [forward]; and if the are not removed, we will continue all [oil-based] programs, including [development of] the South Pars [gas field] with the same program and intensity I described; we will continue the Siraf refinery project, West Karun oil field, and gas exports to Iraq.”
- On oil prices: “Oil prices must naturally go in a better direction, because those who brought down the prices are under the most pressure of all.” Zanganeh emphasized that even oil prices at $40/barrel would not cause Iran to “give up [its] resistance.”
- On OPEC: “OPEC has not done well at all with the stream of falling oil prices; OPEC’s problem is that consensus must be achieved, and the weakness and strengths of OPEC are simultaneously in this feature; at the previous meeting, OPEC failed to decide, which is why everyone continued their work…” (Kayhan)