Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a list of demands to the UK, France, and Germany to ensure Iran’s continued commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Khamenei sought assurances on May 23 from the European signatories of the nuclear deal that they would not raise Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities during ongoing negotiations with Iran over the JCPOA. Khamenei’s demands are a rebuttal to the new White House Iran policy that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out on May 21. The Supreme Leader threatened to restart “nuclear activities cancelled [under the JCPOA]” if the Europeans “delay in offering answers” to Iranian demands. Khamenei’s conditions for ensuring Iranian abidance and participation in the JCPOA rebuff the White House offer to Iran to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement in return for sanctions relief.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from May 17 - 24.

Regional Developments and Diplomacy
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May 24, 2018

Khamenei sets conditions for Iran’s continued commitment to JCPOA

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set forth several conditions for continued Iranian adherence to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during a gathering of senior regime officials on May 23. Khamenei demanded that the European signatories of the JCPOA “commit and promise. . . to not raise the [issues] of Iran’s missile [program] and regional presence” during ongoing negotiations between Iran and Europe. Khamenei also called on European countries to guarantee that they will continue to purchase Iranian oil and that European banks will continue to do business in Iran. Khamenei warned that the regime “reserves the right to commence nuclear activities cancelled [under the JCPOA]” if the Europeans “delay in offering answers” to Khamenei’s demands. (Khamenei.ir)

  • Numerous senior regime officials attended Khamenei’s speech including President Hassan Rouhani, Judiciary head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Chief IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari. (Khamenei.ir)
May 24, 2018

Pompeo outlines U.S. policy on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made 12 demands of Iran while delivering remarks on the Trump administration’s new Iran policy on May 21. The demands included but were not limited to restricting Iran’s access to nuclear enrichment, halting its ballistic missile program, permitting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “unqualified access to all sites” in Iran, and ceasing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities. Pompeo stated that the U.S. will remove all sanctions against Iran, restore diplomatic ties, support modernization in Iran, and encourage the reintegration of the Iranian economy into the international economic system if Iran complies with U.S. demands. (State.gov) (E)

May 24, 2018

Treasury Department issues terrorism designations against IRGC-linked individuals and entities

The U.S. Treasury Department issued three separate rounds of sanctions against Iranian-linked individuals and entities on May 17, 22, and 24. The Treasury Department designated ten individuals and eleven entities linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program, Yemen’s al Houthi movement, Hezbollah members and affiliates, and individuals and front companies associated with U.S.-sanctioned Iranian airlines. The IRGC Quds Force has utilized domestic Iranian airline companies such as Mahan Air to supply Iranian and Iranian-backed forces in Syria with funds, fighters, equipment, and arms. These sanctions mark the sixth instance of Treasury Department designations against IRGC-linked individuals and entities since U.S. President Donald Trump’s May 8 decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (Treasury.gov) (E) (Treasury.gov) (E) (Treasury.gov) (E)

May 24, 2018

Shamkhani and Zarif reiterated Iranian presence in Iraq and Syria is at request of respective governments

Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif separately defended Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria in remarks on May 21 and 23. Shamkhani and Zarif both reiterated that Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria is at the request of each countries’ respective governments. Zarif’s and Shamkhani’s remarks follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment that foreign military forces “will be withdrawn from [Syria]” during a meeting between Putin and Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Moscow, Russia on May 17. Shamkhani’s and Zarif’s comments also follow U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s calls for Iran to discontinue its destabilizing activities in Iraq and Syria. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad stated that Iranian and Hezbollah forces’ presence in Syria “is not up for discussion” on May 23. (IRNA) (ISNA) (Reuters) (E) (IRNA)

Citations & Links

1. Khamenei.ir
http://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=39655

2. Khamenei.ir
http://farsi.khamenei.ir/photo-album?id=39651

Citations & Links

1. State.gov
https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/05/282301.htm

Citations & Links

1. Treasury.gov
https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0388

2. Treasury.gov
https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0392

3. Treasury.gov
https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm0395

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82923167/

2. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/97030200959/%D8%B8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%81-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%DB%8C%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%85%D8%B0%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%AF%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7

3. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-government/syrian-deputy-fm-pullout-of-iran-forces-not-for-discussion-al-mayadeen-idUSKCN1IO0V0

4. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82924112

Nuclear Deal Developments
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May 24, 2018

EU begins process to enact blocking regulations against forthcoming reimplementation of U.S. sanctions

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the European Commission proposed on May 18 that the EU enact blocking regulations against the forthcoming reimplementation of U.S. sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal in early-August 2018. Enactment of the blocking statute will prohibit European companies from complying with select U.S. sanctions against Iran. The blocking statute will also allow the EU to not recognize any court rulings that enforce U.S. sanctions. The European Parliament and European Council will review the European Commission's proposal and either approve or reject the proposal before mid-July 2018. The EU aims to protect European companies involved in doing business with Iran from U.S. secondary sanctions. (Europa.eu) (E) (Reuters) (E)

Citations & Links

1. Europa.eu
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-3861_en.htm

2. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-europe/eu-launches-measures-to-protect-european-business-in-iran-idUSKCN1IJ100

Domestic Politics
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May 24, 2018

Border residents issue one-month deadline to the regime.

Business owners and activists in Baneh, Kurdistan Province in western Iran near the Iran-Iraqi Kurdistan border issued a one-month deadline to the regime demanding the reopening of border crossings on May 18. Baneh residents threatened to go on strike and protest if government officials do not meet their demands. Many of Baneh’s ethnically Kurdish residents are economically dependent on border trade and commerce. Baneh residents have staged protests before in order to reopen border traffic and permit porters to freely move goods across the border. The Iraqi government, likely at the behest of Iran, closed several official and unofficial border crossings following a border clash between IRGC Ground Forces and ISIS militants near Salas-e Babajani County, Kermanshah Province on January 27. The event resulted in the death of three Iranian soldiers. (VoA Farsi)

May 24, 2018

Truck drivers go on strike over expensive costs

Thousands of Iranian truck drivers have been on strike since May 22 over low fares, expensive fuel costs, and increases in spare part prices. Truck drivers in Esfahan, Markazi, Bushehr, Gilan, Fars, Qazvin, and Hormozgan Provinces have participated in the ongoing strikes. (BBC Persian) (Instagram) (Instagram) (Telegram)

Citations & Links

1. VoA Farsi
https://ir.voanews.com/a/iran-kurdistan-protest-ramadan/4400217.html

Citations & Links

1. BBC Persian
http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-44222542

2. Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/p/BjFQu4bjzzJ/?taken-by=bbcpersian

3. Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/p/BjFBSbllElI/?taken-by=freedommessenger67

4. Telegram
https://t.me/FreedoMessenger/27241

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