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 Will Fulton and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributors John Lesnewich and Mehrdad Moarefian. 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.
Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave an extensive interview to the Financial Times in which he touched upon internal dynamics affecting the negotiations, the future of the agreement, and Iranian relations with Saudi Arabia and Syria:
- Asked why Iran made an agreement now: “I think that a great deal of it was the influence of the desire of the people. In the elections the people showed what they wanted.”
- Asked what Iranians want from the nuclear program: “We want to use peaceful nuclear energy. Nuclear knowledge can greatly affect the lives of the people and advance the country.”
- Asked why an agreement had not been signed before: “A bit due to internal issues and a bit due to our partners wanting a monopoly.”
- Asked about opposition to the deal and if it could be a risk: “Of course there is also opposition within Iran. [It is not a risk] because the Supreme Leader has confirmed that he will not shelter the opponents.”
- Asked about the comprehensive agreement: “I think that the first stage was more problematic. It broke the line. The second stage goes on top of this work. Our opposing side will not create barriers because we showed good will. However, I cannot read the hearts of others…. I think the second six months will be sufficient… . I said that breaking the line was more problematic. You saw what problems Mr. Obama confronted over there, and we also were not without problems.”
- Asked about the possibility of improving relations between the Saudi and Iranian governments: “I am ready to go and they will welcome me…. We have not defined a date… . I want to build confidence that friendliness with Iran is to the benefit of the region and both countries.”
- Asked about Iran playing a building role in finding a solution to the Syria conflict: “We will play this role as best as we can.”
- Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani praised the efforts of the “children of Iran and the Revolution” in Geneva and stated, “The continuation of these negotiations must continue with the preservation of the system's red lines and perseverance towards the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights.”
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani spoke at a Parliamentary public hearing after FM Zarif spoke on the Geneva treaty. Larijani called the hearing “necessary” and said “Mr. Zarif provided extensive details.” The Speaker said the negotiations were “a good indicator for the political, economic, and international relations fields.”
- However, Larijani also said, “The worries that MPs have expressed in this short time and in their speeches in Parliament show that there is one important issue being paid attention to by all MPs. The negotiations delegation must make an effort to preserve the structure of peaceful nuclear energy in Iran … and it must not be limited.”
- “Of course we do not need to have their [the West’s] approval to enrich uranium. When Iran accepted the provisions of the NPT, it became a possessor of these rights.”
- Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi stated, “Some on the sidelines take uninformed positions about the Geneva accord and say this act was not approved by the Supreme Leader; they must know that the Supreme Leader has approved it. The Westerners officially recognized Iran's nuclear right within the framework of this agreement. Of course this agreement is not ideal but in the current situation it has been the only way.”
Expediency Discernment Council member Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri spoke on the nuclear agreement, which he noted as a success due to Israel’s anger over the treaty.
- “Negotiations with the [P5+1] are not something new. In Almaty [Kazakhstan, where negotiations were held in March] they were also looked to, but did not succeed due to some deceptions. All the high-level negotiations, from the beginning to the end, must be presented to the Supreme Leader, which he then confirms and approves….. No negotiations occur without his approval.”
- “This agreement was a success. The reason for it being that it angered some groups. The Imam [Khomeini] said something like, 'If you see that the enemy became happy with you, you know that there is a problem in your work. If he is worried and angry, you know you have succeeded.' Now, Israel is angry. The Prime Minister of the usurper regime [Israel] was against this agreement and America’s stance. If we had failed, Israel would be celebrating.”
- An editorial in Kayhan newspaper, viewed as an unofficial organ of the Office of the Supreme Leader, criticized the Rouhani Administration's “100 day promise” as a “mistake” that does not have “the logic of expertise” because “no transformations in economic matters will occur.”
- Tehran Mayoral Spokesman Mohammad Hadi Izadi announced that a basic understanding with the judiciary had been discussed to acquire Evin Prison, destroy the existing structure, and transform the space into the largest recreational space in the city over the course of five years.
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- President Hassan Rouhani met with Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Supervisor Zarar Ahmad Osmani and advised against a continued US troop presence: “Iran is against the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the region. It emphasizes that the security of Afghanistan, whether against foreign attacks or in clashing with internal terrorist forces, should secure the Afghan people without the presence of any foreign force.” Rouhani continued “It is the desire of all the people of the region that foreigners are removed from Islamic lands and the peoples’ affairs are put in their own hands.”
- Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu announced in a joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif that President Hassan Rouhani will be traveling to Turkey in January and that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will later repay the visit. Davutoglu also expressed his joy over the recent nuclear agreement.
- Iranian media report the burial of ten Afghan migrants “martyred defending the Seyyeda Zeinab shrine in Syria.” Seven were buried in Mashhad, Esfahan and Tehran yesterday. Today, two will be buried in Qom and one in Tehran.
Military and Security
IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke at a Resistance Art Festival about the importance of Resistance and expanding the Revolution:
- “The Islamic Revolution is against Global Arrogance [the West] and the Dominant System. The primary slogan of the Revolution is standing and resisting against oppression and arrogance.”
- “We live in an era in which we have the cause of Islamic Iran, the velayat, Islamic guidance, and the Revolution and in which we are set at the beginning of a long and difficult road…. We must use all of our capabilities, abilities, and forces to further expand the Islamic Revolution and fight against futility.”
- Head of the Basij Organization Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi spoke to students and said, “No negotiations or foreign relations can in any way solve our problems. We must act to solve our own problems. Diplomatic work must take place, but to advance our goals we must make an effort.” Naghdi added that the people must look to their domestic strength and said, “The whole country was occupied with the negotiations, whereas only the negotiations team should be busy [with them]. The country must not linger [on negotiations], and the people must be active on the stage of the political epic.”
IRGC Vali Amr unit (responsible for the Supreme Leader’s security) Commander Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Ibrahim Jabari spoke to a number of Basij battalions and praised the organization, while also praising the nuclear program for its resistance over the last ten years:
- “After 35 years of the enemy plotting by way of wars and sanctions, we have stood with steady perseverance so the enemy has been unable to create any damage in our midst.”
- Referring to the Iranian nuclear program: “I do not want to name names, but in  the necessary cooperation did not take place. However, today, by following, staying within the guidelines of, and listening to the Supreme Leader we see what changes have been created in society.”
- “This [20%] enrichment is indebted to great martyrs such as Martyr Shahrivari. Today, if the government retreats from 20% enrichment to 5% in negotiations, we do not intend to view it as correct or not. The Supreme Leader must decide.”
- Representative of the Supreme Leader to the Basij Organization Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad Reza Toysarkani echoed many of Jabari’s statements, praising the resistance of Iranians and the Supreme Leader over the past ten years, honoring the martyred scientists of the nuclear program, and saying, “If we did not have economic resistance during the past years, the sanctions would absolutely have quickly brought our economy to its feet and been the cause of its paralysis.
- Armed Forces General Staff Deputy for Industrial Preparation, Support and Research Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi thanked the efforts of the nuclear negotiations team and said, “The achievements that have been reached in recent nuclear negotiations were the result of national sympathy and unity in the country.”
- Head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi discussed nuclear activities at the first National Accelerators and Users Conference at Amir Kabir University in Tehran following the Geneva accord:
- “In any case, there is give and take in negotiations. However, in relation to nuclear activities, I assure you not to be worried at all about ceasing of nuclear activities in any part of it, especially enrichment.”
- “We are to only cease uranium production up to 20% enrichment. This was while we did not have any plans from the beginning to produce 20% material.”
- “We have produced about 405 kilograms of uranium with 20% enrichment of which close to 200 kilograms were converted to U308 and some of this U308 was converted to fuel rods. Now we have about 190 kilograms of U308. The amount of 20% uranium stockpile will secure our reactor needs in the future and if we wanted to build a new reactor, we will take measures to secure our needs. The centrifuges that produced 20% uranium until now will not cease, but rather will produce uranium with 5% enrichment.”
- “We will not cease anything in the Arak reactor. Based on the agreement between Iran and the P5+1, it was planned for us to produce the reactor fuel complexes with a time delay while the construction and production of fuel rods, pellets and receptors are produced. Only the construction of the complex will be delayed and this is while we have no urgency in the construction of fuel complexes from a technical aspect. Currently, a fuel complex model for reactor with the length of sixty centimeters has been placed in the Tehran reactor and is placed under radiation so its tests are completed. The rest of activities related to the construction of Arak reactor will continue.”
- “Nothing exists that demonstrates a cessation in Iran's nuclear activities and trends. It is possible for some far from technical realities to say we must preserve 20% enrichment, but political discussions are not introduced here.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged his critics to consider "national interest and fairness and criticize achievements with a national interest outlook" while briefing the Parliament on the results of the recent negotiations:
- "The strongest countries in the world are armed with the barbaric nuclear weapons and at least two of them can destroy themselves and the world tens of times. They see security in that if the opposing side uses nuclear weapons, they can use it as well. In reality, they seek security in madness. In any case they are the other negotiations side and therefore this work is difficult."
- "Iran's right to complete use of nuclear energy is part of this resolution. I will briefly explain this part based on NPT section 4: ‘No one can prohibit the inalienable rights of NPT members.’ No one can prohibit anyone from using, producing or expanding nuclear energy. This right exists for the right owner whether it is recognized or not. Respecting this right is necessary."
- "In the current situation, Fordow and Natanz will continue their activities. Instead of producing 20%, Fordow will only produce 5% and the condition of Natanz is the same. We will not increase capacity in Natanz and Fordow and they will not increase sanctions."
- "It was decided for this capacity not to increase, which in Arak means that new fuel is not produced and no equipment installed, but construction continues because currently we are at this stage in Arak."
- "The other discussion is for us to convert half of our 20% uranium to oxide, which we are doing. From the day we started, about 480 kilograms of 20% uranium has been produced. Up to now, more than half of it has been converted to oxide. From the remaining 200 kilograms, we will convert 100 kilograms of it to oxide, which has been our plan. 100 kilograms has also been discussed to be sent abroad, though sending all of it abroad was actually discussed. But currently the discussion is to convert these 100 kilograms to 3.5% which I interpret this as reduction."
- "The other reduction that we will do in this accord is to restrict the production of new centrifuges. Of course, we will not install new centrifuges. Rather it is planned for capability to be preserved and not increased. We will restrict the production of new centrifuges to the amount that we will need to replace broken centrifuges..."
- "Alleviating concerns regarding Arak heavy water reactor and transparency measures in this regard are other measures by Iran within the next six months. We of course explicated that approving the suspension protocol is not to the discretion of the administration and we cannot even make a promise in this regard because the Parliament has not permitted this and this is at the discretion of the Parliament."
- The National Petrochemical Company welcomed the removal of sanctions on Iranian petrochemical products. Exports to the EU are estimated to bring $2-5.2 billion in revenue.
- According to Central Bank statistics, March-June exports were $16.5 billion, falling 16.8% in comparison to the same period in 2012.
Photo of the Day
- ISNA photo essay: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and “smiling diplomacy.”