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, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Key takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for stronger Iranian-Russian cooperation in Syria during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Putin made his first official visit to Iran since 2007. The Supreme Leader referred to American policies in the region as a common threat to Iran and Russia and called for greater joint Moscow-Tehran cooperation to counter U.S.-led plots to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Khamenei stated that the U.S. has “no right” to insist on Assad’s departure and to determine the fate of the Syrian nation. Khamenei also reiterated his policy of compartmentalized negotiations with the U.S., stressing: “Except for the nuclear issue… we do not and will not have bilateral negotiations with the Americans on Syria or any other topic.”
Putin, meanwhile, eased an export ban on nuclear equipment and technology to Iran. The move also authorizes Russia to provide Iran with financial and technical advice, as part of a plan to increase nuclear cooperation between the two countries. Tehran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanaei also announced that Russia has started “procedures” to deliver the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Iran.
Principlist Parliamentarian Mehdi Kouchakzadeh, who was an outspoken critic of President Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, announced his intent to resign from Parliament in protest of Speaker Ali Larijani.
Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s rhetoric following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, and explains why Iran should not be considered a partner in the fight against the Islamic State, in his most recent blog, “After Paris, can Iran be counted on to help defeat ISIS?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Khamenei meets with Putin. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 23 in Tehran. Putin reportedly gifted Khamenei with “one of the oldest copies of the Qur’an.”
- On Syria: Khamenei called for greater Russian-Iranian cooperation in order to foil America’s “long-term plot in trying to dominate Syria and then expanding its control over the region... This plot is a threat for all nations and countries, especially Russia and Iran.” Khamenei also emphasized that the U.S. has “no right” to insist on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who had won “the majority of the Syrian people’s votes.”
- “If the terrorists who perpetrate these crimes in Syria are not overthrown, the range of their destructive activities will expand to West Asia and other regions.”
- "The Americans and their [followers] are trying to achieve their unrealized military objectives for the Syrian issue now through political means at the negotiating table.”
- On regional negotiations: Khamenei criticized Washington’s “dependence” on terrorist groups to achieve its regional goals and stated, “This demonstrates that the Americans do not use honest diplomacy.”
- “Except for the nuclear issue… we do not and will not have bilateral negotiations with the Americans on Syria or any other topic.”
- “We have no confidence whatsoever in the Americans.” (Khamenei.ir)
- Khamenei meets with Nigerian president. Supreme Leader Khamenei called for increased cooperation among Muslim countries in order to “defend the identity of Islam” during a meeting with Nigerian President Mohammad Buhari on November 23 in Tehran. Khamenei stated that Iran “has expanded relations with all countries except America and the Zionist regime…” (Khamenei.ir)
Military and Security
Russia’s delivery of the S-300 “to Iran is underway.” Mehdi Sanaei stated that Russia has started the “procedures” to deliver the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Iran. Tehran’s Ambassador to Moscow stated that the "delivery...to Iran is underway" after Russia "revised and signed a new contract" with Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
Jafari: We have “thwarted” many threats by ISIS. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that ISIS has tried to render "Iran insecure," but security measures and the "cooperation of the people" have "thwarted their efforts." The IRGC Commander stated that extremist networks will try to "create insecurity in Iran" by targeting the "Islamic Resistance Economy," and that "one of these networks was discovered and its members arrested in Kermanshah." Jafari also stated that there will be "continued cooperation between Iran and Russia" to eliminate the "takfiris in Syria." (ISNA)
- MOIS: We have eliminated two terrorist groups. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) announced that it has “destroyed” two terrorist “teams,” one in West Azerbaijan province and the other in Sistan va Baluchistan province. No further details were provided. (Entekhab)
Mehdi Kouchakzadeh submits resignation from Parliament. Principlist Parliamentarian Mehdi Kouchakzadeh delivered a note during a tense Parliament session declaring his intention to resign in protest of Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani’s behavior. Kouchakzadeh had allegedly tried to introduce issues regarding food supplies in Iran for debate, but was scolded by Larijani for bringing up “issues that were not on the agenda.” When Kouchakzadeh threatened to resign in protest, Larijani stated, “If you want to resign, resign...it will be reviewed. Do not just threaten to resign.” In response, Kouchakzadeh approached the podium and submitted his resignation to Larijani and cried, “This is un-Islamic!” (Asriran) (Entekhab)
Naghdi denies claims that the Basij Organization interferes in elections. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi rejected accusations of election interference against the Basij Organization.” The Basij Organization Commander stressed that Basijis have their own opinions and that the Basij Organization does not mobilize for elections. (Basij News)
- Judiciary Spokesman: Iranian-American journalist will serve a prison sentence. Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei reflected on the recent sentence for Iranian-American Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. The Judiciary Spokesman stated, "Rezaian's verdict has been issued, but he has not been formally notified of it." Ejei added that the verdict includes a prison sentence, but that he could not elaborate on "such details." (IRIB)
Rouhani calls for greater natural gas consumption. President Hassan Rouhani called for more environmentally friendly energy policies during a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) on November 23 in Tehran. Rouhani called for increased cooperation among GECF member states and stated, “The institutionalization of the exchange of experiences and technical knowledge among them,” and “the adoption of well-coordinated policies” in order to enhance the role of natural gas in meeting global energy needs. He also stated:
- “The GECF’s craft and wisdom is that it respects the obvious principle of member countries’ sovereignty and right to ownership of their gas resources.”
- “In the atmosphere of interaction among friendly countries with aligned interests… an increase in the profits of one country is not necessarily at the expense of other members. Rather, the profits of every member country can be better secured based on a collective strategy with collective and shared profits.”
- “In past years, my country has applied policies of replacing fossil fuels with gas. Gas currently constitutes about 70 percent of Iran’s energy [consumption], and about 90 percent of Iranian families in cities and villages have access to the nationwide gas distribution network. In two years, Iran’s capacity for natural gas production will exceed 1000 million cubic meters per day.”
- Rouhani stated that Iran has been unable to reach its full potential for production and exports due to “imposed international restrictions,” but added, “Of course, we believe that the situation will change quickly with Iran’s recent agreements with the P5+1 countries regarding our peaceful nuclear program.”
- “Our strategy has become firmly based on the increase of production and export of natural gas through investments in [our] oil and gas fields. Naturally, our priority is cooperation with GECF countries’ activities.”
- “I would also like to remind you that the framework of Iran’s new oil and gas contracts provides an attractive backdrop for investments in the oil and gas sector. This administration announces its support for international investments in [our] oil and gas industries… In addition to increasing its production capabilities, Iran also has plans to expand the consumption of gas domestically on its agenda.” (President.ir)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Kamalvandi: Restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran must be removed. Behrouz Kamalvandi emphasized that Russian plans for increased nuclear cooperation with Iran are “within the framework provided by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).” The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman called for other JCPOA signatories to remove sanctions prohibiting peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran. Russia recently announced plans to relax restrictions preventing the transfer of technology related to modernizing the Fordow and Arak reactor facilities and equipment related to uranium enrichment. (Alef)
- Araghchi to meet with Amano. Abbas Araghchi will meet with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on November 24 in Vienna, Austria. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs will discuss the JCPOA’s implementation during the meeting. According to the roadmap reached by Iran and the July in July, the meeting was scheduled to occur before the IAEA releases its final report on Iran’s nuclear program in December. (ILNA)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
IRGC 2nd Lieutenant killed in Syria. IRGC 2nd Lieutenant Ahmad Rahimi was killed in “southern Syria” during “Operation Muharram.” No details on his unit affiliation were provided. (Ghatreh)
- Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade member killed in Syria. Rahmat Hashemi was buried in Qarchak, Tehran province. Details regarding his death or rank were not provided. (ABNA)