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. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: IRGC boats fired warning shots across the bow of a Singapore-flagged ship in the Persian Gulf. Mohsen Rezaei reacted sharply to Hossein Shariatmadari’s criticisms of Rezaei’s earlier comments on protecting Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty. Mohammad Javad Larijani stated that the Lausanne negotiations contained “serious weaknesses.”
Citing CNN and NBC news outlets, Fars News Agency reported that five IRGC boats fired warning shots across the bow of Singapore-flagged vessel “Alpine Eternity” in the Persian Gulf. The Agency claimed that the NBC report had stated the boats fired the shots after the “Alpine Eternity” ignored a command to stop. Reuters reported that Iran had tried to stop the vessel because “it is liable for damage to an Iranian-owned oil platform it hit” in late March. Fars News Agency did not independently confirm the incident.
Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei responded to a May 13 op-ed by Kayhan Managing Editor Hossein Shariatmadari criticizing Rezaei’s statement earlier this week that Iran would defend Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty. Rezaei told Shariatmadari “[you] must [drop] these kinds of issues, and do not go any further than this…”
Chief of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani explicitly criticized the Lausanne nuclear negotiations as “not without success…but…certainly not enough to achieve the objective, and [having] serious weaknesses.” He stated that Iran “must build five other underground sites,” and rejected the shutting down of the Fordow site under the Lausanne framework “while the military option from the Americans or their lackeys is still on the table.”
Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran has coordinated “with ‘relevant sides’ at the United Nations” for docking the Iran Red Crescent Society ship “Nejat” carrying humanitarian aid supplies at the port city of al Hudaydah, Yemen. Abdollahian’s comments follow the U.S. statement earlier this week that Iran should dock the ship in Djibouti, not Yemen.
Iran and P5+1 members kickoff third round of nuclear talks in Vienna. Iran, EU, and U.S. negotiators held trilateral negotiations on May 14 in the Austrian capital. The Iranian delegation led by Abbas Araghchi, International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, and Majid Takht Ravanchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs, met with EU Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman. Ministerial-level negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to begin on May 15, in Vienna. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
Javad Larijani: As long as U.S. maintains military option, Iranian nuclear facilities “will go deeper underground.” Chief of the Judiciary’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani stated, “We must ... say to the U.S. that as long as you consider [the] military option against Iran…, our facilities will not only remain underground, but will go deeper in the ground.” Larijani also stated, “The Lausanne negotiations were not without success…but were certainly not enough to achieve the objective, and have serious weaknesses. One of the weaknesses I’m speaking of is the issue of Fordow. In addition to the Fordow site, we must build five other underground sites. If the military option from the Americans or their lackeys is still on the table, why should we shut down Fordow?” Larijani also criticized the treatment of Iran’s research and development during the Lausanne negotiations: “Except for research and development, we can say where we want to go? Why do we have to say where we want to go? …There is no reason to tell them the details of our discoveries.” He also stated, “The [IAEA] must be able to visit under the terms of the NPT, this is no problem; but underground and above-ground is a completely separate debate.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Tabnak)
Tehran demands that its nuclear file be treated as an ordinary IAEA case. Reza Najafi dismissed IAEA Secretary General Yukiya Amano’s remarks about inspecting Iran’s military sites and said that it is not stipulated in the Lausanne framework. Iran’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA stated: “Under the [framework agreement signed on April 2] the IAEA is [only] required to verify [the activities], for example [verify] that Iran has had no uranium enrichment above the five-percent purity level. Such IAEA corroboration denotes that sanctions must be lifted simultaneously.” Najafi added that Iran’s file must be treated as an ordinary case “or else it would be impossible to implement an agreement.” (Press TV) (E)
AEOI: Iran will take legal action against IAEA Director Amano’s speculation. Behrouz Kamalvandi’s May 13 interview with IRIB focused on the ongoing nuclear negotiations, specifically IAEA-led inspections, the U.S. framework agreement fact sheet, and sanctions. He dismissed IAEA Secretary General Amano’s statements regarding intrusive inspections and said “Amano is making political and media speculation to mar the current negotiations... Iran's response to Amano’s speculation will be legal action.” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman added:
- “The United Nations Charter specifies sovereign equality of all nations making military sites of the member states immune to foreign intrusion.”
- “Our first objective [in the P5+1 negotiations] was to maintain stabilized enrichment [capacity], production of nuclear material, and to protect centrifuges. The second objective was to keep the Fordow site… and… the Natanz site…”
- “Apart from centrifuge production, we will not face any restrictions in other areas of research and development.”
- “Another issue was the Arak heavy water reactor, [the P5+1] tried to convert it into a light reactor, but they were unable to… We agreed to sell our surplus heavy water in the international market, and this brings us to the club of manufacturers and exporters of heavy water.”
- On the U.S. factsheet: “The Americans came to Geneva insisting on the principle of ‘all or nothing.’ They tied their hands with the release of the factsheet, because if they want to change [or demand] something in the negotiations that are underway and currently in the drafting process, we will not accept it.”
On sanctions: “[Once] the agreement is announced, the Security Council will issue a resolution, [rendering] previous resolutions null and void… However, the removal of sanctions related to field of weapons and dual-use, will be delayed. But all the economic, banking, oil, and financial sanctions will be abolished.” (ISNA)
- Araghchi meets with the Secretary General of the IAEA. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi met with IAEA Secretary General Amano on May 14, in Vienna. The two discussed the agency’s future plans to inspect Iran’s non-nuclear facilities as part of the Additional Protocol. The senior Iranian negotiator stated: “Inspections of non-nuclear sites would not go beyond the framework of the Additional Protocol… Iran could allow access to its non-nuclear sites under special conditions…” (Press TV) (E) (IRIB)
Rezaei pens open letter to Shariatmadari in response to his critical remarks. Mohsen Rezaei responded to a May 13 op-ed by Managing Editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari, in an open letter. Shariatmadari had explicitly criticized Rezaei for stating that Iran would defend Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, knowing the Saudis are “murdering” innocent Yemeni people. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary’s letter stated: “… You [Shariatmadari] and some of your friends, for nearly 15 years… have been accompanied by slander and dozens of insults, in particular the recent series of disrespectful [and slanderous remarks] about my interview with the Lebanese network Al Maydin has passed [my] tolerance limit... [drop] these kinds of issues and do not go any further than this…” (Tabnak)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Iranian military boats fire shots across bow of Singapore-flagged vessel in the Persian Gulf. Citing a CNN report, Fars News Agency stated that “five Iranian military vessels fired warning shots around a Singapore-flagged cargo ship [named Alpine Eternity] in the Persian Gulf.” Fars News Agency also cited an NBC News report stating that the military boats belonged to the IRGC. The NBC report also purportedly stated that the military boats fired the warning shots after the Alpine Eternity ignored a command to stop. Fars News Agency stated that it could no cannot independently verify the accuracy” of the report. (Fars News Agency)
Abdollahian: Iranian aid ship will dock in Yemen, in coordination with the UN. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran has coordinated “with ‘relevant sides’ at the United Nations” for docking the Iranian Red Crescent Society vessel delivering humanitarian aid supplies at the port city of al Hudaydah, Yemen. IRNA stated the ship would reach the port “within the next 10 to 12 days.” (IRNA)
Boroujerdi meets with President Assad in Syria. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi met Syrian President Bashar al Assad on May 13 in Damascus to discuss regional developments. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman reiterated Iran’s support for Syria, stressing, “… no force in the world can disturb relations between Tehran and Damascus.” (Fars News Agency) (E)
Iran and the UAE ink preliminary agreement on CNG exports. National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company Deputy Head Mansour Riahi announced that the two countries reached a final agreement under which Iran will transport gas on board Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) containers to the UAE. (Press TV) (E)
Senior cleric warns Saudi Arabia of the consequences of executing Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi stated, “The consequences of [prominent Shi’a cleric] Sheikh Nimr’s execution will be beyond your [Saudi Arabia’s] preconceptions” (Basij News). Several clerical members of Parliament also “warned the Saudi regime against the execution.” ABNA also reported “nation-wide student protests” against Saudi Arabia’s sentencing of Sheikh Nimr. (Tasnim News) (E) (ABNA)
Larijani meets with Iraqi president. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with President Fuad Masum on May 14 in Tehran. Larijani stated that, “all countries should admit the undeniable reality that terrorism is a common international problem,” and “urged the international community to develop and implement a macro plan to fight terrorism.” Larijani stated, “If it [the international community] continues to take a passive and tactical approach [to fighting terrorism, terrorism] will not be eradicated.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (ISNA)
Rafsanjani meets with Masum. During his meeting with the Iraqi president, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated, “Now, the time has come for different parts of Iraq including Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds, with empathy and compassion, to establish full security throughout the country.” (Hashemirafsanjani.ir)
- Shamkhani meets with Masum. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani stated “Iran-Iraq cooperation in fighting terrorism and restoration of security to vast areas of the country can be achieved through designing and implementing effective economic programs as well as providing sustainable welfare for the oppressed Iraqi people, including Shiite, Sunni and Kurds.” Shamkhani also “described [the P5+1’s] directed meetings [in the nuclear negotiations have] the aim of sowing discord in the region and the escalation of fear as a mark of the West’s dishonesty and a repetition of previous computational errors.” (Fars News Agency) (E) (YJC)