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 Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Marie Donovan, and Dianna Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: Ali Shamkhani stated that sanctions have not effected Iran’s nuclear program. Shi’a militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq announces aggressive change in strategy in Iraq.

Ali Shamkhani outlined three regime proofs that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful: Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against nuclear weapons, Iran’s defense strategy, and its allowing of IAEA inspections.

IRGC Brigadier General 2nd Class Yadollah Javani expressed confidence that Iran-backed Iraqi forces will drive ISIL out of Tikrit and Mosul. The Senior Political Advisor to the Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC also attributed nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to the Islamic Republic’s military capabilities, possibly indicating the regime’s indication that even failed negotiations were a victory for Iran and a recognition of its military power.

Iran-backed Iraqi Shi’a militia Asa’ib Ahl al Haq (AAH) Representative to Iran Hojjat al-Eslam Jabar Rajabi said that AAH will be changing from its earlier “second shot strategy” in Iraq of responding when attacked to a “first shot strategy.” This may reflect AAH’s growing confidence following its involvement in the successful liberation of Amerli and Jurf al-Sakhar. Rajabi also said that AAH had been welcomed into Sunni cities at the request of the inhabitants and that Islamic resistance militias include Sunni as well as Shi’a groups. These comments echo the Supreme Leader’s calls for Shi’a and Sunni to unite against ISIL.

Official Statements

Senior Iranian official: President Obama’s latest letter focused on nuclear talks. Ali Shamkhani said that resolving Iran’s nuclear program requires negotiations. The Supreme National Security Council Secretary also talked about regional developments and President Obama’s letter to the Supreme Leader during his interview with Lebanese media outlet al-Mayadeen:

  • Nuclear talks with the P5+1: “Naturally sanctions will have an effect and they are placing a lot of pressure on the people of Iran. Sanctions have no effect on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. It is for this reason that they [P5+1] are sitting at the negotiations table…”
  • “Unilateral sanctions or sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council have no legal basis and they should be rescinded.”
  • “We have our goals and they have goals and both sides are trying to achieve their ends. Our purpose is clear because we are working within the [international legal] framework…”
  • “Unfortunately, some powers on the opposing side are under pressure from the Zionist regime and they see how Netanyahu reacts to the talks in Muscat, Oman and they are affected by this.”
  • “Arak is not a complex technical issue that cannot be resolved. Research and development is not a complex issue.”
  • “Currently the debate is centered on two issues: sanctions and enrichment capacity, however other issues still remain.”
  • “We need to be capable of supplying our own energy needs.”
  • "We want to have an advanced, un-caricaturist, not-for-show, peaceful nuclear industry. We have it in the country and we support it. God willing, with the acceptance of this reality which is a matter in the safeguards framework the nuclear problem will be resolvable and the sanctions can be lifted in an accelerated manner. If we pass this stage, it will be clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its industrial power and its special geopolitical situation, has the capability of being an effective and powerful actor in resolving the region's outstanding issues and can provide better welfare for the region."
  • Military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program: “Unconventional weapons do not have a place in Iran’s defense strategy.”
  • “Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that is the truth. This is supported by the religious fatwa of the Supreme Leader forbidding these weapons.”
  • “In the past 12 years we have been under investigation in many forms. IAEA inspectors have monitored all sites even our military sites. At Natanz you will see UAVs illegitimately flying or shot down and unfortunately this in many forms continues.”
  • “These three facts: our religious beliefs, our defense strategy, and [comprehensive] inspections prove that our nuclear program is peaceful.”
  • President Obama’s letter to the Supreme Leader: “This was not the first letter, this last letter received a response, and most of the letter was related to the nuclear issue.”
  • Iran-Saudi Arabia relations: “We do not have good relations with Saudi Arabia.”
  • “Contrary to intentions and the status of our relationship with the Saudi government is not where we want it. The reason for this is bitter events that the roots trace back to the other party which has the burden of responsibility.”
  • Regional relations: We have already seen a lot of messages from Arab countries that want to build closer ties with Iran… Some countries have acknowledged their mistakes [regarding] Iran.” Shamkhani’s remarks reflect the deep mistrust between Tehran and Riyadh despite recent diplomatic overtures by the Saudis.
  • ISIL:  "We doubt the sincerity of the coalition against ISIL. The behavior of the coalition brings a clear and rational conclusion that they are dishonest and anyone doubts their honesty...There is a connection between the coalition and terrorists in an area that is closer to our border, this is something that is questionable." (Mehr News)

Iran aviation industry ready to export drone technology. The Aviation Industries Organization announced that the industry is seeking new markets and expansion and is ready to transfer drone design and production technology. Science and Technology Deputy to the President Sourena Sattari was also in attendance.   (Tasnim News Agency) (IATDH)

IRGC: “No deal better than a bad deal.” IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadegh published an editorial about the upcoming deadline in the nuclear negotiations. It stated that both sides see no deal as being better than a bad deal, but the P5+1 wants to make Iran’s nuclear program “symbolic,” and wants to be able to impose sanctions again at any moment. Iran wants to maintain all of its enrichment capabilities while maintaining transparency and proving the peaceful nature of its program. (Sobh-e Sadegh)

Iran’s strategy is to unite the Muslim world. Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif, Head of IRGC Public Affairs, said Iran’s strategy is to unite the Muslim world and contrasted the ideologies of America and the former Soviet Union as being ideologies of men as opposed to the Islamic Republic [of Iran’s] ideology coming from God. (ISNA)

Iraqi Shi’a militia AAH Representative discusses strategy in Iraq. Hojjat al-Eslam Jabar Rajabi said in an interview with IRGC-affiliate Fars News that Asai’b Ahl al Haq (AAH) will be switching from its earlier “second-shot strategy” – “when they have attacked, we have responded” – to a “first-shot strategy” of attacking first. He also said that AAH has been in Sunni cities at the request of their inhabitants, and that resistance militias include “not only Shi’a but also Sunni” groups.  Rajabi stated that the US began a proxy war against Iraq after the Iraq War to destabilize the region, and that the Iran-Iraq war was a “game created by Americans to sow discord between the two nations [of Iran and Iraq.]” Rajabi also stated that “at the confession of the enemies”, IRGC Qods Force Command Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani had provided “decisive advice in the field”. Rajabi stated Soleimani’s role has not been limited to military operations, but rather extends to “influenc[ing] the unity of the revolutionary forces.” Rajabi noted that “…around him [Suleimani], the resistance groups maintain unity.” Rajabi also stated that Soleimani’s role in Iran is that Quds Force Commander, he “is present on a different side in Iraq.” (Fars News Agency)

AAH Representative: “Hajji Qassem’s message is that Iraqis are full of confidence:” In another interview with Fars News yesterday, Rajabi stated, “You see how many enemies Hajji Qassem has, and how much it costs to get a trace of him? But when he is in the military zone, while Iraqi gunmen… take photos with him, Hajji Qassem’s message is that they are full of confidence.” Rajabi also maintained Soleimani’s consulting status in Iraq: “Hajji Qassem is present in the war room along with others and consults, but the operations commanders are the Iraqis.” (Fars News Agency)

IRGC ready to sign development agreements with Iran’s industrial universities. IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi announced that the IRGC, including the Quds Force, is ready to sign research and development agreements with the nation’s industrial universities. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor also criticized current questioning of commanders’ decision-making during the Iran-Iraq War. (Sepah News)

Military and Security

Senior IRGC official expressed confidence that Iranian-backed Iraqi forces will drive ISIL out of Tikrit and Mosul. Brig. Gen. 2C Yadollah Javani, Senior Political Advisor to the Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC, attributed the ongoing nuclear negotiations to the Islamic Republic’s military achievements, rejecting the notion that sanctions brought Tehran to the table. He also praised the success of Iranian-backed Iraqi forces in wrestling Amerli and Jarf al-Sakhr from ISIL and expressed confidence in their abilities to capture Tikrit and Mosul.

  • “The Islamic Republic will not allow unrest to extend to Iran’s borders.”
  • “[Qods Force Commander] Maj. Gen. [Qassem] Soleimani is a global figure and one of the heroes of the Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq war] era. He will be present at the front line whenever he feels that it will effective in the theater.” (Farda News

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

Senior Chinese official denies facilitating financial transactions for IRGC Qods Force. People's Republic of China Foreign Ministry Spokesman denied allegations of Chinese financial cooperation with the IRGC Qods Force and said that Tehran-Beijing relations “have not violated international law or United Nations Security Council resolutions. This cooperation will not inflict harm on the interests of the international community.” (Tabnak
Nuclear Talks

Nuclear talks with the P5+1 kickoff in Vienna. Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iran’s nuclear negotiations team arrived in Vienna to resume talks with the P5+1 ahead of the November 24 deadline. Foreign Minister Zarif said that a final agreement "depends" on the political will of the opposing side. Abbas Araghchi, a senior nuclear negotiator said that "Iran's ideas suffice to alleviate concerns." (YJC

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