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: Iranian officials may leverage the regime’s influence over Yemen’s al Houthi movement to broker a ceasefire in Yemen in order to mitigate international concerns over the regime’s destabilizing regional activities.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi suggested that Iran has made an exception to “hold talks” over Iran’s regional activities only in the case of Yemen during an interview with state television on May 28. Araghchi noted that Iran has not conducted negotiations over its ballistic missile program and characterized the missile program as Iran’s “red line.” Iran and European actors conducted negotiations regarding Yemen on May 3 and will continue talks in late June 2018. Iran’s professed willingness to hold talks regarding its regional activities in Yemen is unlikely to extend to other issues such as its missile program and Iranian interests in Iraq and Syria. Iran seeks to secure economic guarantees from Europe regarding Iran’s membership in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) before the U.S. begins to reimpose sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal in August 2018.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from May 25 - 30.

Nuclear Deal Developments
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May 31, 2018

Araghchi suggests Iran is open to negotiate on its regional activities in Yemen only.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi suggested that Iran has made an exception to hold talks on its regional activities only in the case of Yemen during a televised interview with Iranian state media on May 28. Araghchi noted that Iran has decided to “hold talks” for humanitarian reasons over the Yemeni Civil War with Germany, France, the UK, and Italy. Araghchi emphasized that the discussions regarding Yemen are separate from the ongoing negotiations regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Unidentified Iranian and European officials told Reuters that Iran aims to help broker a ceasefire to the Yemeni civil war by persuading Yemeni al Houthi officials to negotiate toward conflict resolution. Foreign Ministry Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari led a political delegation to Rome, Italy to discuss the conflict in Yemen with representatives from Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and the EU on May 3. The next round of talks will reportedly take place in Brussels, Belgium during the second half of June 2018. (Reuters) (E) (YouTube) (BBC Persian)

May 31, 2018

Araghchi convenes with JCPOA signatories in Vienna.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi met with representatives from the remaining Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) member states, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano in Vienna, Austria for a deputy-level ministerial meeting of the Joint Commission on May 25. The Joint Commission is a conflict-resolution mechanism of the JCPOA for member states. The participants discussed how the remaining JCPOA-member states -- Russia, China, France, the UK, and Germany -- can guarantee Iran’s continued economic benefit from the deal. An unidentified senior Iranian official stated that Iran expects the European signatories of the nuclear deal to present an “economic package” to Iran before the end of May that ensures that Iran will continue to economically benefit from the nuclear deal. Araghchi’s participation in Joint Commission meeting follows Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s meeting with European officials in Brussels, Belgium on May 15. (EEAS.eu) (E) (IRNA) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Reuters) (E)

May 31, 2018

Velayati proposes five actions in response to U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA.

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati presented five recommended actions on May 30 for Iran to take in response to President Donald Trump’s May 8 decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Velayati called for the production of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), nuclear-powered engines for ships and submarines, and carbon fibers for use with more advanced centrifuges among other recommendations. Velayati stated that Iran should strengthen the “unrestricted facets” of its nuclear program, intimating that his recommendations are in line with the terms of the JCPOA. Velayati also noted the importance of Iran maintaining its missile program and regional strength as well as cooperating closely with Russia and China in order to distance Iran from Europe. Velayati’s comments follow Khamenei’s demands of European signatories of the JCPOA on May 23 which included calls for Europe to continue purchasing Iranian oil despite the forthcoming reimplementation of U.S. sanctions. (Tasnim News Agency)

Citations & Links

1. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-europe-yemen/iran-willing-to-push-for-ceasefire-in-yemen-talks-with-european-powers-idUSKCN1IU1FO

2. YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yz7lWEcRRU

3. BBC Persian
http://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-44275640

Citations & Links

1. EEAS.eu
https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/45227/chairs-statement-following-25-may-2018-meeting-joint-commission-joint-comprehensive-plan_en

2. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82925641

3. Twitter
https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_Eng/status/1000035323714441216

4. Twitter
https://twitter.com/HelgaSchmid_EU/status/999948519845826560

5. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-talks/no-illusions-as-iran-nuclear-deal-countries-look-to-future-without-u-s-idUSKCN1IQ004

Citations & Links

1. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/fa/news/1397/03/09/1738988/%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-5-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B6-%D8%B9%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%88%DA%98%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%84-%D8%AC%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C

Economy
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May 31, 2018

Zanganeh: Total has 60 days to secure OFAC license.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh noted that French oil and gas company Total SA has 60 days to secure a U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license in order to continue its plans of developing Phase 11 of the South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf. An OFAC license authorizes holders to do business with sanctioned individuals and entities that would otherwise be prohibited. Zanganeh added that the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will replace Total if Total fails to secure the OFAC exemption. Zanganeh made his comments after a meeting between the Oil Ministry and the Parliamentary Energy Committee on May 29. (IRNA) (Shana)

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82930160

2. Shana
https://www.shana.ir/fa/newsagency/283097/%d9%88%d8%b2%db%8c%d8%b1-%d9%86%d9%81%d8%aa-%d8%aa%d9%88%d8%aa%d8%a7%d9%84-60-%d8%b1%d9%88%d8%b2-%d8%a8%d8%b1%d8%a7%db%8c-%d9%85%d8%b0%d8%a7%da%a9%d8%b1%d9%87-%d8%a8%d8%a7-%d8%a2%d9%85%d8%b1%db%8c%da%a9%d8%a7-%d9%81%d8%b1%d8%b5%d8%aa-%d8%af%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%af

Domestic Politics
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May 31, 2018

Larijani wins re-election as Parliament speaker for 11th term.

Parliament re-elected Ali Larijani as Parliament speaker on May 30 for the 11th consecutive term since his election to Parliament in 2008. Larijani received 147 out of 279 votes during the second round of voting after Larijani failed to secure the necessary votes during the first round. Parliament also re-elected Masoud Pezeshkian as First Parliamentary Deputy Speaker and Ali Motahhari as Second Parliamentary Deputy Speaker during the Parliamentary Leadership Board elections on May 30. (IRIB News)

Citations & Links

1. IRIB News
http://www.iribnews.ir/fa/news/2140891/%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3

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