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: The Rouhani administration revealed a new economic stimulus package on October 17.
Economic and Finance Minister Ali Tayyeb Nia and other senior officials unveiled the Rouhani administration’s new fiscal and monetary stimulus package on October 17. The package includes proposals to reduce reserve requirements and cut the interbank rate in order to encourage lending. Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said that the package does not have “lofty goals,” and identified greater investment as a primary means to increase the economic growth rate. Hardliner Parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini decried the stimulus package as a trick driven by campaign politics.
Atomic Energy Organization for Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran will sell its excess enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for natural uranium. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran is required to either down blend its excess stockpile of enriched uranium to natural levels or sell it on the international market.
An IRGC member and two Basij Organization members were killed in Syria. Mehdi Alidoust was a member of the IRGC 17th Ali Ibn Abu Taleb Division (Qom). Majid Sanei was a member of the 161st Imam Hossein Battalion of Hamedan, while Mehdi Karami was a member of the 154th Commando Hazrat Ali Akbar Commando Battalion of Hamedan province.
AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis discusses the Iranian parliament’s recent vote to approve the JCPOA, and examines the ramifications of the vote for President Hassan Rouhani’s broader political agenda, in his most recent blog post, “Rouhani’s struggle is just beginning.”
New economic stimulus package unveiled. Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, Economic and Finance Minister Ali Tayyeb Nia, and Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif unveiled the Rouhani administration’s new economic stimulus package during a ceremony on October 17. The package includes both fiscal and monetary measures to stimulate the economy, including lowering reserve requirements and the interbank rate to encourage lending. (Fars News Agency)
Nobakht discusses new six-month economic policy package. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht told reporters during an October 20 press conference that the Sixth Development Plan and the budget for 1395 (2016-2017) are still in the “preparation” stage. The Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President also emphasized that the Sixth Development Plan remains within the framework set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the Resistance Economy and will be implemented at the beginning of 1395.
- Nobakht also discussed a new economic policy package for the next six months, stating, “Until the end of the [Iranian] year, the government has executed an economic policy package for the acceleration [of the economy] and exiting a depression while reducing inflation… We did not define lofty goals for this package.” Nobakht identified greater investment as a primary means by which to increase the economic growth rate. He also called officials “cautious” about the JCPOA’s implementation and stated, “We must not forget that sanctions are still in place for the next six months.” He also stated that the economic policy package is designed to cause an increase in Iranians’ purchasing power.
- Nobakht stated that the policy package was agreed upon during a meeting with Economic and Finance Minister Ali Tayyeb Nia and Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif. Nobakht added that the government is also planning for a hard upcoming winter as it creates the budget. (ILNA)
Hosseini: The stimulus package is just an electoral trick. Parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini claimed that the Rouhani administration’s recently unveiled economic stimulus package was driven by campaign politics during an interview with Fars News Agency. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member stated, “The administration just wants to make the people ready to vote for the administration’s candidates with the implementation of the economic stimulus package.” Hosseini also critiqued the status of Iran’s economy, stating “The economic wheel of the country now spins the other way.” (Fars News Agency)
Parliament to receive bill for the Sixth Development Plan next week. Parliamentarian Mohammad Hossein Farhangi stated that Parliament will receive a bill for the Sixth Development Plan around October 26 if the administration is “ready.” He added that there will likely be a span of one month between when the Sixth Development Plan is presented to Parliament and when it is “referred to an open session” of Parliament. From the day that the Sixth Development Plan is printed and distributed in Parliament, parliamentarians have five days to propose their suggestions to a special commission; the special commission then has a maximum of ten days to review the Sixth Development Plan’s contents, including tables, appendices, and representatives’ proposals before it submits its own report on the plan to a “joint commission.” This joint commission then has a maximum of three weeks to submit its own final report to Parliament. Parliament will then review the Sixth Development Plan in an open session. (ICANA)
Head of the Iran Trade Expansion Organization: We might be able to join the WTO after the deal. Valiollah Afkhami stated that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has given a “green light” to Iran for joining the WTO after the nuclear deal. Head of the Iran Trade Expansion Organization stated, “We hope that in the post-sanction environment and the implementation of the JCPOA, the barriers of economic growth can be removed and we can start the process of joining the WTO.” (Tabnak)
Zanganeh: The appropriate price of oil is between $70 and $80. During a statement of the sidelines of the Strategic Oil and Energy Conference, Bijan Zanganeh claimed that with the removal of sanctions, “Iran will [be able to] bring 10 million tons of LNG [liquid natural gas] to the market a few years in the future.” However, the Oil Minister admitted that transporting gas to distant markets through pipelines has many problems, including distance and high cost. Zanganeh added that the members of OPEC believe “the appropriate price of oil is between $70 and $80.” (Mashregh News)
- Two European companies to buy stake in Iran’s largest telecom company. Vahid Sadouqi, head of Iran’s Mobile Communication Company (MTC), announced that MTC has reached an agreement to sell shares with two leading European telecommunications firms that he could not name “due to the sensitivity of the situation.” (Press TV) (E)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Abdollahian travels to London. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian traveled to London at the invitation of the UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond. (Mehr News)
Jafari writes letter to family of IRGC colonel killed in Syria. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari wrote a letter of condolence to the 14th Imam Hossein Division’s Ya Zahra Battalion Commander Col. Moslem Khizab, who was killed in Syria. (Defa Press)
Vahidi: Iran kept the West from “overthrowing Syria.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi praised Iran’s “spiritual power,” stating: “Relying on its spiritual power, the Islamic Republic of Iran can crush all secular powers; this incident is constantly observed.” The President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center and former Qods Force Commander stated, “Iran’s spiritual power forced the enemy to submit, such that by supporting Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran prevented the Arrogance [America and the West] from achieving its goals [of] overthrowing Syria.” Vahidi warned that the U.S. is attempting to infiltrate Iran and “change the attitude of the people.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Two brigades of Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah milita enter Syria. “About 1200 men” from “a special commando unit” of Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah entered Damascus “two nights ago.” The article described the force as “two brigades.” (Mashregh News)
One IRGC member and two Basijis killed in Syria. IRGC member Mehdi Alidoust was a member of the 17th Ali Ibn Abu Taleb Division (Qom). A memorial ceremony was held for him on October 20 at the Fatima Masumeh Shrine in the city of Qom, Qom province. Iranian news outlets refer to Alidoust as the “first IRGC martyr of the Zeinab shrine from Qom.” Majid Sanaei and Mehdi Karami were both “Basijis.” Majid Sanei was a member of the 161st Imam Hossein Battalion of Hamedan, while Mehdi Karami was a member of the 154th Commando Hazrat Ali Akbar Commando Battalion of Hamedan province. Their bodies were transported to Hamedan on October 20. (Defa Press) (Qom News)
Russian energy minister to lead economic delegation to Iran. Alexander Novak will travel to Tehran on October 21 to explore strategies for quintupling bilateral trade with Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi. The Russian energy minister will also discuss an array of energy-related issues with Vaezi. (IRNA) (E)
- Boroujerdi: Roknabadi might be alive. NSFP Parliamentary Commission Chairman Boroujerdi stated that reports from Saudi Arabia indicate that Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon Roknabadi Ghazanfar was treated at a hospital near Mecca immediately after the Hajj stampede. Boroujerdi stated, however, that “current information on his status after this does not exist.” (Entekhab)
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Zarif: We must tie the world economy to ours so that other countries cannot sanction us again. Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed economic opportunities in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during a ceremony marking National Exports Day on October 20. The Foreign Minister stated that “new conditions are before the country” and added, “If the opportunity [presented by] the JCPOA is not utilized and disappointment is injected into entrepreneurs and the people, the JCPOA’s score will be zero… If we want to ensure that no country is able to strike our country with sanctions again, we must turn this atmosphere into reality and bring about conditions of such a type that the world economy is so entangled with our economy that other countries do not have the power to sanction us.” (YJC)
Iran, U.S., and China issue joint statement on Arak reactor. The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) issued a joint statement on October 18. According to the statement, Iran has a “leadership role” and is “owner of” the project to modernize the Arak heavy water reactor, with the “support” of other parties involved in the JCPOA. China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, the U.S., and the High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy agreed to establish a “working group” before Implementation Day in order to determine their respective roles in the Arak modernization project. The CAEA, DOE, and AEOI also “have the intention of working together” in order to expedite the project’s completion. (Alef)
Salehi: Iran will sell its enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for natural uranium. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi discussed Iran’s efforts to begin implementation of the JCPOA during a televised interview. Salehi noted that Iran will sell its enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for natural uranium. Salehi also expressed his confidence that this step would occur in the next “one or two months.” (IRIB)
Jahangiri: The administration will try to get all sanctions removed before December 21. First Vice President Jahangiri stated that the Rouhani administration will aim for sanctions relief to occur during the month of Azar [November 22-December 21]. Jahangiri also commented on the deteriorating economic situation in the country, stating that the administration is “confident” that Iran’s economic future will be “very bright.” (ISCA News)
Parliamentarians criticize Zakani’s statements on the JCPOA review. Several parliamentarians reacted to recent statements by Ali Reza Zakani, who was head of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA. Zakani had criticized both the JCPOA implementation resolution as well as a statement by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani that “the nuclear file is the Supreme Leader’s file.” Zakani had also called a rumored meeting between Head of the Office of the Supreme Leader’s Intelligence and Security Directorate Asghar Mir Hejazi, Larijani, and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani a “pure lie.”
- National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi criticized Zakani’s comments, stating, “Dr. Larijani’s intention by labelling this matter as such is completely clear... The Supreme National Security Council’s resolutions are worthless without the approval of the Supreme Leader, so Dr. Larijani said the nuclear [file] is the Supreme Leader’s file. This matter is completely accurate.” Boroujerdi added that Zakani “is trying to say that the meeting among Larijani, Shamkhani, and Hejazi is a lie.” Boroujerdi stated, “In the meeting that I had with the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Mr. Shamkhani confirmed that such a meeting happened... Shamkhani frankly confirmed the trilateral meeting, so it is not worth denying.”
- NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman Mansour Haghighat Pour stated, “The only thing I can say to [Zakani] is that he should observe piety and speech a little more rationally and carefully.”
- NSFP Parliamentary Commission member Avaz Heydar Pour stated, “Zakani’s reaction to the single-emergency plan for the JCPOA is really a distortion of a historical session of the legislature.” He added that he would support a court investigating Zakani’s claims and stated, “If he cannot prove his own claims, he will be sentenced.” He called involving a court “necessary” to avoid similar accusations against Parliament in the future.
- Parliamentarian Gholam Ali Jafarzadeh Imanabadi criticized Zakani’s claims and cautioned that “the enemy is seeking to create disagreements among officials on the nuclear issue.” He added, “Individuals like Zakani insulted and abused members of our country’s nuclear negotiating team during the 40 days of the Special JCPOA Commission’s work. Therefore, these people bring their records under question by continuing their policies.” (ICANA) (Fars News Agency)
- Zangeneh thanks Larijani for role in approving nuclear deal. During a visit to Parliament, Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh thanked Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani for his “effective role during the course of ratifying the JCPOA,” and “his efforts during the course of examining the JCPOA.” (ILNA)
Military and Security
- Artesh and Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base begin second day of joint exercises. The Artesh Ground Force and Air Force joined the radar and missile units from Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base for the second and final day of the “Muharram” joint exercises in the north and northwestern areas of the Iran. A variety of weapons and equipment was unveiled and tested during the exercise, including the Fath 14 radar system with a reported range of 600 km. (Press TV) (E)