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: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that Iran has not started removing its excess centrifuges under the nuclear deal.

AEOI Spokesman Kamalvandi told reporters that Iran “has not reduced its number of centrifuges.” Kamalvandi also emphasized that the Supreme Leader’s “orders and considerations” will be the basis for Iran’s implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Kamalvandi’s statement contradicts AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi’s November 2 comment that Iran had started reducing its number of centrifuges as dictated by the JCPOA.

The allegation that the AEOI has started dismantling centrifuges elicited a strong backlash from Iran’s hardliners, particularly in Parliament. Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Hamid Rasaei claimed that the removal of centrifuges would be tantamount to a violation of the Supreme Leader’s “recommendations” for the JCPOA’s implementation outlined in his October 21 letter to President Hassan Rouhani.  National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member and prominent hardliner Javad Karimi Ghodousi stated that the commission is forming a parliamentary committee “specifically” to investigate the issue of centrifuge dismantlement.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and regime officials reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to combatting “arrogance” [the West] and “Western influence” ahead of the 36th anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis on November 4, or 13 Aban in the Iranian calendar.

IRGC Colonel Ezzatollah Soleimani was killed in Aleppo, Syria. Iranian news outlets reported that Soleimani’s “last position while in Iran” was commander of the 44th Hazrat Ghamar Bani Hashem Brigade’s Commando Battalion. Two other IRGC members were also reportedly killed in Syria.

Matthew McInnis and Tara Beeny analyze Iran’s broader strategy towards Russia by examining recent developments in economic, security, and nuclear cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, in their most recent blog, “Iran’s strategy to ‘entangle’ Russia.”

Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Kamalvandi: There has been no reduction in the number of centrifuges. Behrouz Kamalvandi told reporters on November 3 that Iran “has not reduced its number of centrifuges.”  The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman stated that the AEOI is attentive to parliamentarians’ worries regarding the implementation of Iran’s nuclear commitments “before the realization of conditions” set by the Supreme Leader. Kamalvandi claimed that the Supreme Leader’s “orders and considerations” will be the basis for Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA and added that Iran hopes that the file on the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program will be “resolved” by December 15.
    • Kamalvandi also discussed the “formal document” needed to begin renovations on the Arak heavy water reactor. He added, “With the exception of one country, the six member countries of the P5+1 have announced their positive opinion [of the document]. We are now expecting the announcement of this [remaining] country’s opinion sometime today or tomorrow, and the document will [then] be quickly signed” by the foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 countries. (YJC)(Tabnak)
  • NSFP Parliamentary Commission member criticizes centrifuge dismantlement. Javad Karimi Ghodousi stated on November 3 that 200 centrifuges at the Fordow nuclear facility have been dismantled “so far.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member stated that Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi and AEOI Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi were present at a November 1 session of the NSFP Commission; Ghodousi added that while Araghchi and Kamalvandi  announced that centrifuge removal was being prepared but had not yet begun, “one day after the session, we followed up and found out that the [centrifuge] infrastructure in Fordow and Natanz was being dismantled... Based on the Supreme Leader’s stipulations, Mr. [Hassan] Rouhani, Mr. [Ali Akbar] Salehi, Mr. Kamalvandi, and Mr. Araghchi have no right whatsoever to implement or make decisions about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by themselves.” Ghodousi stated that the NSFP Commission is establishing a committee “specifically” for investigating the dismantling of centrifuges and for providing the reports required by law on the JCPOA’s implementation. (Alef)
  • Hamid Resaei: “This game must end!” Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Hamid Rasaei delivered a strongly worded speech arguing that the recent dismantling of centrifuges violated the recommendations outlined in Khamenei’s October 21 letter. Resaei added, however, that he had been told by an unnamed official that the Supreme Leader had “accepted” the removal of centrifuges. He stated that the Rouhani administration’s move to “solve this issue” privately with the Supreme Leader was “unacceptable” and exclaimed, “This game must end!” (ISNA)
  • Kayhan: Where are the “written and sufficient guarantees?” Conservative news outlet Kayhan published an article criticizing the Rouhani administration’s implementation of the JCPOA without “written and sufficient guarantees” from the U.S. and the EU on the removal of sanctions, per the Supreme Leader’s October 21 letter. The editorial concludes, “The positions of the senior officials in the American government shows that they are not seeking to completely put aside the tool of sanctions against the Iranian nation.” (Kayhan
  • Jazayeri: U.S. is already behaving poorly in JCPOA implementation process. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri condemned America’s “crimes and evils against the state and the people of Iran” over the last 36 years during a speech commemorating the 13 Aban (November 4) anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. 
    • The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy praised the anniversary as a “valuable opportunity” to “refresh the record of the Americans’ enmity with Iran…so that the Americans’ kneeling down before the greatness, power, and intelligence of the Iranian nation becomes an undeniable reality of the present day.”
    • On the JCPOA’s implementation: Jazayeri warned that “disturbing signs in the kind of approach and behavior of the United States in the JCPOA  implementation process are already evident in some American officials’ statements,” and encouraged Iran’s “authorities and experts” to have a “timely” response to any “American officials’ statements…to prevent out-of-context interpretations” of the JCPOA. (Sepah News)
  • Larijani criticizes JCPOA opponents. Ali Larijani stated that “some have erroneously said the JCPOA should be rejected.” The Parliament Speaker asserted that the JCPOA achieves Iran’s goals, including the “removal of sanctions and the organization of economic relations,” and does not endanger Iran’s “technological facilities” or nuclear achievements.(Tabnak)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Leader: “Death to America” is not directed at the American people. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed university students ahead of the 36th anniversary of the November 4, 1979 U.S. embassy hostage crisis. The Supreme Leader reiterated his warnings about U.S. hostility towards Iran, claiming that this long-term struggle will never end. Khamenei urged Iranian officials to remain vigilant and not to be “naïve” on this issue; he said U.S. attempts to infiltrate and influence the Iranian nation must be blocked. Khamenei added:
    • “This perception is reality. The Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation’s struggle against arrogance, despite what some people say, is not an irrational movement…”
    • “In recent years, some [in Iran] have attempted, either deliberately or naively, to overlook the nation’s repeated experience [interacting with America] to portray a made-up face and pretend that if the Americans were once hostile to Iran, today they have ceased those conspiracies.”
    • “The aim of these efforts is to hide the enemy’s real face… so that the Americans can continue their enmity in secret until they have the opportunity to plunge a dagger from behind.” 
    • “The reality is that America’s objectives for the Islamic Republic of Iran have not changed, and if they [the Americans] could destroy the Islamic Republic, they would not hesitate for a moment.”
    • On 1953 U.S.-led coup: “[Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad] Mossadegh relied on America [to counter the British]…this optimism, simplicity, and neglect laid the groundwork for the successful American coup. The coup that wasted all of the nation’s efforts to nationalize oil…”
    • On U.S. support for Mohammad Reza Shah: “America actually encouraged and guided Pahlavi’s generals to massacre the people of Iran.”
    • On the meaning behind “Death to America”: “The concept of this slogan is death to America’s arrogant policies. The meaning of this slogan does not mean death to the American people.” (
  • Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister arrives in Tehran. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Tehran on November 3. He will meet with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian to discuss the conflict in Syria. (ISNA)
  • NSFP members discuss Iran-U.S. relations. National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi and NSFP members Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani and Mansour Haghighat Pour commented on the state of Iran-U.S. relations and the Islamic Revolution during an interview with Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA).
    • Boroujerdi: “The essence of the Islamic Revolution was anti-arrogance [anti- Americanism and anti-Western sentiment] and you could see this in the destruction of the house of spies [the takeover of the American embassy].”
    • “A nuclear agreement cannot just remove this issue of anti-arrogance.”
    • Mansouri Arani: “America is currently considered the symbol of arrogance in the world and in the truth we can consider this day [November 4] as a day about combating arrogant thinking in the world.”
    • Haghighat Pour: “Combatting anti-arrogance and oppression is a religious principle; we must not consider this merely as being political.” (ICANA)
  • South Korean foreign minister visits Iran. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during a trip to Tehran. Zarif and Byung-se reportedly discussed the process of implementing the JCPOA, the political situation in the Middle East, and Iran-South Korea relations. (Entekhab)
  • Jalili: The arrogant powers want to frighten us. Saeed Jalili spoke at the University of Tehran’s “Long Live Death to America” Conference on November 3. The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) claimed that the goal of the “arrogance” [America and the West] is to spread fear among Iranians through such measures as discussing the “military option” against Iran and imposing sanctions. Jalili added, “Those who take the lever of spreading fear into their hands are the greatest terrorists. The nature of America’s behavior as the Great Satan is a terrorist behavior by frightening nations.” Jalali also praised the model of “religious democracy” for unifying rather than dividing the Iranian people and claimed that such a model has the power to eliminate “America’s plots.” (Tasnim News Agency)


Military and Security

  • IRGC releases statement on security in post-deal environment. The IRGC released a statement ahead of the November 4 anniversary commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. The statement stresses that November 4 is a “precious opportunity” to “explain important and decisive events.” It said that “spreading the slogan of “Death to America” at the national, regional, and global levels are considered the main manifestations of ‘national power’ and the ‘strategic depth of the Islamic Republic.’” The statement continues, “…the IRGC considers sustainable and comprehensive security the most important feature in the national priorities and needs; in the post-JCPOA opportunity, to preserve and enhance it [Iran’s security] along with the other armed forces, the IRGC has accelerated the synergistic defense capacity process.” (Mehr News)
  • Fadavi: IRGC Navy to hold exercises in late Fall. IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi discussed IRGC Navy exercises, Iranian involvement in the Yemeni crisis, Saudi Arabia, and slogans on the sidelines of a conference commemorating the November 4 anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy. 
    • On forthcoming IRGC Navy exercises: The IRGC Navy Commander stated that the IRGC Navy’s “exercises take place every year; this year, the Navy’s exercises will take place in the third quarter of this [Iranian] year [late September-late January] according to the calendar.”
    • On Yemen: “The Yemenis do not see the need for us to help them in the field of fighting which involves fast boats; up until now, they [the Yemenis] have been able to sink three military vessels, including two Saudi ones and one Emirati one which cost 800 million dollars.”
    • On slogans: Fadavi noted that some Iranians speak of eliminating “Death to America” as a slogan in Iran. He responded, “Nowhere in the world do they speak against God; however, some in Iran have raised such conversations. However, freedom exists in our country; accordingly, they can have such discussions [on eliminating “Death to America” as a slogan].”
    • On Saudi Arabia: When asked about “the possibility of conflict between [Iran] and Saudi Arabia,” Fadavi stated, “We must not propel our attention away from the Great Satan [America] towards the Little Satan [Saudi Arabia]. Of course, America seeks to impose its full sovereignty in the region, and violate Islamic countries’ sovereignty, which is why we should be aware that the enemy must not enter the family of the Islamic world.” (Defa Press)
  • IRGC intelligence arrests individuals reportedly tied to U.S. and UK media outlets. The IRGC Intelligence Organization reportedly arrested “several members of an influential media network” allegedly tied to the U.S. and UK. (Tasnim News Agency)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC Colonel killed in Aleppo. IRGC Col. Ezzatollah Soleimani was killed in Aleppo, Syria, during Operation “Exacting Revenge.” News and social media outlets have used the name “Exacting Revenge” to refer to the Iranian advisory mission in Syria. Soleimani was from Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari province.  ABNA reported that Soleimani’s “last position while in Iran” was the commander of the 44th Hazrat Ghamar Bani Hashem Brigade’s Commando Battalion. (ABNA)
  • IRGC Captain killed in Syria. IRGC Capt. Sajjad Hosseini was killed in Syria by “takfiri terrorists.” He was a member of the IRGC 15 Khordad Artillery, Missile, and Air Defense Group, which is based in Esfahan. (Fars News Agency)
  • IRGC member from Golestan province killed. Ismael Zahedpour was killed in Aleppo on November 3. Local news outlets report that Zahedpour had retired from the IRGC Neynava unit, based in Golestan province, and “voluntarily” went to Syria “for one month.” Local news agencies also say that it is rumored that Zahedpour was a Saberin Brigade member and was a trainer in paragliding, skydiving, and demolition.  Zahedpour is also referred to as the fifth martyr from Golestan province. No information on Zahedpour’s rank was provided. (Golestanema)



  • Jahangiri: The National Development Fund has $40 billion in resources. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri discussed the Resistance Economy and sanctions relief during a meeting with officials. Jahangiri stated that the National Development Fund has “more than $40 billion in resources that must be invested in the economic, investment, and export needs of the country.” (IRIB)
  • Persian Gulf Refinery project to receive funding from National Development Fund. Ahmad Adib announced that the Iranian government will invest $712 million from the National Development Fund of Iran (NDFI) into the Persian Gulf Refinery (PGR) project. The PGR project manager qualified that $200 million of this sum has already been spent on the project. Once completed, the PGR project will produce 36 million liters per day (ml/d) of high octane gasoline, 14 ml/d of gasoil, 4 ml/d of liquified petroleum gas (LPG), 3 ml/d of jet fuel, and 130 tons a day of sulfur. (IRNA) (E
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