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: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned of foreign attempts to exploit ethnic and religious differences in Iraq during a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum.
During a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Supreme Leader Khamenei stated that “foreigners” and “some countries in the region” are attempting to “magnify differences” between religious and ethnic groups that “have been living beside each other for centuries without any problems.” Khamenei acknowledged that the Iraqi government is pursuing relations with the U.S., but warned against American plots to “disintegrate” Iraq.
IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh censured “some officials who...in a position of authority do not believe in enmity with America and [its] influence.” The IRGC Air Force Commander also stated that the IRGC has thwarted American plots to culturally and politically infiltrate Iran because it took the Supreme Leader’s earlier warnings about the threat of foreign influence “seriously.” Hajizadeh defensive comments follow President Hassan Rouhani’s criticisms of the IRGC’s arrests of several members of an alleged “media network” attempting to infiltrate Iran.
In response to rumors that IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani is being treated for injuries suffered in Syria, IRGC Brigadier General Second Class Ramezan Sharif stated that Soleimani is “completely healthy.”
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
Supreme Leader meets with Iraqi President. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei underlined the importance of Iran-Iraq relations in a meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masum on November 24 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader hailed the Iraqi nation for welcoming Iranian pilgrims and for hosting Arba’een (commemoration ceremony for the death of third Shi’a Imam Hussein). He also warned about plots to disrupt national unity in Iraq and stated:
- “The [Iraqi] president is in a special position which can have an effective role in reducing tensions and increasing unity.”
- “Iraqis, including Sunnis, Shias, Arabs, and Kurds, have been living beside each other for centuries without any problems. Unfortunately some countries in the region, as well as foreigners, have sought to magnify differences. [The people] must stand against this…”
- On plots to disintegrate Iraq: “Circumstances must not develop in a way that the Americans dare to speak publicly about disintegrating Iraq. Why should a country like Iraq, which is a large and rich country that enjoys a thousand-year history, be disintegrated into smaller areas, so that it is always subject to conflicts and disputes?”
- “Certainly, Iraqi officials will [pursue] foreign relations with other countries, including America, on the basis of the interests of the Iraqi nation, but the Americans must not be allowed to consider Iraq as their personal property…” (Khamenei.ir)
Supreme Leader hosts Venezuelan President. Khamenei met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on November 23 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader praised Venezuela’s resistance against U.S. hegemony and attempts to dominate South America and added that resistance against the West is a “war of wills.” Khamenei also expressed Iran’s gratitude for Venezuela’s support and called for stronger relations between Tehran and Caracas. (Khamenei.ir)
Rouhani and Putin hold joint press conference in Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani promoted increased cooperation between Iran and Russia in a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 23. Rouhani stated that there will be “wide investment opportunities in various economic sectors, including energy, oil and gas, electricity, rail and infrastructure projects” in Iran, following the P5+1 nuclear deal. He also discussed the development of joint Tehran-Moscow banking relations. Rouhani added that Iran and Russia are “determined to boost ties” and cooperate on regional issues, specifically counterterrorism. Putin announced that Iran and Russia have signed seven agreements and stated:
- "We have defined 25 prioritized projects in different fields of energy, construction, and telecommunications.”
- Putin on nuclear cooperation: "Moscow has finished the first phase of such cooperation with constructing of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and [will] start the 2nd and 3rd phases afterward based on a predefined road map.” (President.ir) (President.ir) (E)
- Rouhani meets with Maduro. President Rouhani met with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on November 23 in Tehran. Rouhani stated that Iran is prepared “to expand comprehensive relations with Venezuela.” Rouhani added: “Tehran is fully ready to expand scientific and educational cooperation with the Venezuelan part, to meet Venezuelans trade and industrial demands and to implement joint projects based on the previous agreements.” (MFA) (E)
Rouhani holds talks with Bolivian delegation. President Rouhani met with a high-ranking Bolivian delegation on November 24 in Tehran. Rouhani expressed Iran’s interest in growing ties with all Latin American countries and stated, "We are ready to share our experiences and capabilities in different areas such as technology, engineering, and agriculture with Bolivia.” (MFA) (E)
Shirazi: “ISIS is the child of Saudi Arabia.” Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi discussed the threat posed by ISIS during a meeting with clerics in Kurdistan province. Shirazi stated, “After the incident in Paris, the curtain went up and the American and European newspapers admitted that Saudi Arabia is the source of ISIS; we, however, have said for a long time that ISIS is the child of Saudi Arabia.” (Basij)
- MOIS Head calls for greater Iranian-Lebanese intelligence cooperation. Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi met with Lebanese General Security Head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim in Tehran on November 24. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Head expressed his condolences for the November 12 terrorist attacks in Beirut and called for greater counterterrorism cooperation between Lebanese and Iranian intelligence agencies. (ILNA)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
- Salehi: Russia to help Iran construct new plants at Bushehr. Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran “hopes to break ground on [the] Bushehr 2 and Bushehr 3 [nuclear power plants] with Russian cooperation” by the end of the current Iranian year( March 19, 2016). The Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) added that Iran plans to explore isotope production and methods of uranium enrichment with Russian cooperation. Salehi also expressed “hope that we can have good cooperation with the Russians in the framework of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] to make [nuclear] fuel for our domestic needs.
Nobakht discusses JCPOA implementation monitoring process. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht discussed the JCPOA implementation monitoring process and relations with Russia during a press conference on November 23.
- On monitoring the JCPOA’s implementation: “Regarding the JCPOA Supervisory Board as was noted in the Supreme Leader’s communique [the October 21 letter to President Rouhani], the Supreme National Security Council will provide information on the monitoring of the JCPOA’s implementation.”
- “The JCPOA Supervisory Board is putting on its agenda the review of the JCPOA’s implementation within the framework of the Supreme Leader’s, the Parliament’s, and the Supreme National Security Council’s decisions; it will inform the Supreme National Security Council of the results of its review.”
On Iran-Russia relations: “Relations between Iran and Russia will expand on the basis of the two countries’ national interests… Russia is a great country with which we have a strategic relationship, but [our] economic relations do not fit on this level of relations.” (IRIB)
Haghighat Pour: If human rights sanctions are imposed, we will throw away the nuclear deal. Principlist Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour discussed the UN’s recent resolution on Iran’s human rights record during an interview with Mehr News. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member reiterated the Supreme Leader’s guidelines on the imposition of new sanctions, stating, “If any one of the P5+1 members want to create sections under any pretext, whether human rights or terrorism… we will throw away the nuclear deal.” (Mehr News)
- Iran and U.S. hold talks on JCPOA. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi met with Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull on November 24 in Vienna, Austria. (Mashregh News)
Hajizadeh censures officials who “do not believe that America is the real enemy.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh discussed domestic attitudes towards the threat of foreign influence. The IRGC Air Force Commander stated:
- “For a long time, the helmsmen of the Islamic Revolution of Iran have [had] concerns regarding [foreign] influence, and major officials have also accepted this concern.”
- “By taking the Supreme Leader’s discussion about [foreign] influence seriously, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has managed to make America and Iran’s enemies’ actions and plans useless.” He continued, “Everyone should be aware of and diligently pursue the enemy’s influence in Iran’s politics and culture so that no problems arise.”
- Hajizadeh stressed that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had warned Iran not to trust America, but that nonetheless “some officials do not believe that America is the real enemy of Iran…” He also stated that “some officials who are in a position of authority do not believe in enmity with America and [its] influence.” He continued, “We must support the guardianship of the jurist [velayat-e faqih] according to the rule of the Supreme Leader… the IRGC and the Basij act according to this principle…” (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
Sayyari announces submarine drills. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced plans to hold “specialized submarine exercises” in the Gulf of Oman “on the eve of November 28th.” The Artesh Navy Commander added that the exercises will use Tareq and Ghadir-class submarines. (YJC)
- IRGC stresses that Qassem Soleimani is “completely healthy.” IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif rejected reports claiming that IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani has been injured in Syria. The IRGC Public Relations Head stated that Soleimani is in full health. Sharif added that Soleimani is “energetically” and “cheerfully” assisting the resistance fighters in Iraq and Syria. (Sepah News)
Chinese authorities propose high speed railway between Tehran and China. China Railway Corporation officials proposed a high speed railway beginning in the western city of Urumqi and passing through Almaty in Kazakhstan, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, and Ashgabat in Turkmenistan before terminating in Tehran. (Press TV) (E)
- Araghi: Iranian pursuing new LNG ventures with foreign firms. Hamid Reza Araghi announced that Iran seeks to increase Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports through five joint-ventures with foreign firms. The Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) stated that Iranian gas refineries are capable of processing 260 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year, and will reach 330 billion bcm by 2017. (IRNA)