Iran News Round Up

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

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton and contributor Wali Miller. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Key takeaway: Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warnedIran that it must meet its requirements under the nuclear deal after the IAEA reported last week that Iran exceeded its permitted heavy water stockpile of 130 tons.

Reza Najafi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, responded by calling the stockpile limit “only an estimate.” Najafi added, “The only stipulated commitment in the JCPOA regarding excess heavy water is that this amount must be offered up for export in international markets.” Iran told the IAEA that it plans to transfer five tons of heavy water out of the country to re-comply with the limit after the IAEA announced that Iran exceeded the stockpile limit on November 9. The JCPOA states that Iran’s heavy water needs “are estimated to be 130 metric tons” and requires Iran to export any excess amount. Iran’s heavy water stockpile has exceeded 130 metric tons twice since Iran began implementing the deal.

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Iran’s IAEA representative: The JCPOA limit on heavy water is “only an estimate.” Iran's Permanent Representative to the IAEA Board of Governors Reza Najafi stated that Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal’s limits on heavy water production in remarks in Vienna on November 17. Najafi called the deal’s 130-ton limit on Iran’s heavy water stockpile “only an estimate” and stated, “The only stipulated commitment in the JCPOA regarding excess heavy water is that this amount must be offered up for export in international markets.” He added that Iran “recently announced its readiness to transfer its excess heavy water, which is of the highest quality, to international buyers in even greater amounts.” Laura Holgate, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, argued that the 130 tons is a hard limit in a statement made during the IAEA Board of Governors meeting. (Ana.ir)
     
  • Rouhani: No one can disrupt the JCPOA. President Hassan Rouhani defended the durability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on November 16. Rouhani stated, “We have brought about irreversible achievements in the JCPOA that neither Europe nor America can unsettle.” Rouhani similarly reacted to Donald Trump’s election by reassuring Iranians that the agreement “cannot be changed with the decision of a single administration.” (IRIB)
    • Kazem Jalali, a member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, downplayed the consequences of Trump’s victory in an interview. He stated, “A change in the presidency or the ruling political faction will not have much of an effect on [America’s] approach toward the Islamic Republic of Iran or on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s approach toward it.” (Fars News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Senior hardline cleric to Rouhani administration: Relations with the world are good, but servitude to foreigners is not. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a former chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the current head of the influential Society of Qom Seminary Teachers, called for the government to correct its “mistakes” during remarks to members of the Rouhani administration on November 17. Yazdi stated, “Relations with the world is very good, but servitude to foreigners is wrong.” Without explicitly naming President Hassan Rouhani or other government officials, Yazdi added that “some blame sanctions rather than attending to their own management.” (Alef)

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • Five Zainabiyoun Brigade fighters to be buried in Qom. Iranian news outlets reported that five fighters belonging to the Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun Brigade will be buried in the city of Qom on November 18. All were reported to have been killed in Syria. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Government official: 235 “defenders of the shrine” have been buried in Qom. The managing director of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs in Qom province announced that 235 “defenders of the shrine” have been buried in Qom province thus far. “Defenders of the Shrine” is a term used to refer to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias fighting in Syria and Iraq. The vast majority of the 235 casualties were likely members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade and the Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun Brigade. (Mehr News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Senior clerics meet with Basij officials. Head of the Basij Organization IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi and other Basij officials met with senior clerics in the city of Qom, including Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani, and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi. Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Alavi Gorgani praised the activities of the Basij and urged government officials “not to overlook the Basij” among Iran’s armed forces. He added, “We expect that [the government] will not spare any effort in helping [the Basij’s] activities.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Sayyari: The Artesh Navy escorts Iranian ships through the Gulf of Aden. Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari praised the role of the Artesh Navy in “escorting  Iranians ships” in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding areas. Sayyari recently announced that the Iranian Navy would begin escorting Iranian oil tankers off the Yemeni coast, following a broader escalation in regional tensions after Iranian-backed al Houthi forces launched missile attacks on U.S. vessels. (Tasnim News Agency
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