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 endorsed Iran’s nuclear deal with the P5+1.
In an open letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani, Khamenei established several conditions for implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. He stated that the U.S. and the EU must guarantee in writing that “all oppressive economic and financial sanctions” against Iran be completely lifted. He said that Iran would consider “the establishment of any type of sanctions on any level and for any excuse,” including human rights and terrorism-related sanctions, a “violation of the JCPOA.” Khamenei also indicated that any JCPOA-mandated alterations to the Arak heavy water reactor and or sending excess uranium stockpile abroad should not begin until “after the IAEA announces that [Iran’s] PMD file has been closed.”
Two members of the IRGC 8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division - 1st Lieutenant Kameil Gorbani and 2nd Lieutentant Hassan Ahmadi – were killed in Syria. Another Iranian national, Reza Damroudi, was killed on October 18 in al Hassaka governorate in northeastern Syria.
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.”
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Supreme leader endorses nuclear deal with caveats. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the implementation of the nuclear deal in a letter addressed to President Rouhani. Khamenei praised the negotiating team, lawmakers, and the presidential and parliamentary representatives who offered “the correct path” for the nuclear deal’s implementation with the approval of the JCPOA resolution. Khamenei warned of U.S. deception and established several conditions for implementing the nuclear deal, stating:
- On sanction relief: Khamenei said that President Obama and the EU must guarantee in writing that “all oppressive economic and financial sanctions” against Iran be completely lifted. Khamenei warned that if the sanctions remain, the JCPOA will be violated. He added, “During the eight years, the establishment of any type of sanctions on any level and for any excuse (including the repeated and self-made excuses of terrorism and human rights) by any of the countries of the negotiations will be considered a violation of the JCPOA and the administration is obligated according to paragraph 3 of Parliament’s resolution to take the necessary steps and stop JCPOA activity.”
- On the Arak reactor and excess enriched uranium: Khamenei said that “any action regarding” the Arak heavy water reactor and “the exchange of enriched uranium for yellow cake” will “only start after the IAEA announces that the PMD file has been closed.” Khamenei also called for “adequate guarantees” in the modernization of the Arak reactor and the “exchange of enriched uranium.”
- On enrichment capacity: Khamenei referenced the JCPOA implementation resolution and called for the creation of a plan to increase Iran’s enrichment capacity to 190,000 SWUs.
- On research and development: Khamenei called for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to organize Iran’s “research and development in various dimensions” so that at the end of eight years, there are no technological limitations for enrichment at the accepted level under the JCPOA.
- On ambiguities in the nuclear deal: Khamenei claimed that the “point of reference” in the case of ambiguities about the JCPOA is “the text of the negotiations themselves.” Khamenei said that relying upon “the interpretations of the other side” is “unacceptable.”
On formation of a special committee: Khamenei called for the creation of a special committee to monitor “the implementation of commitments by the other side.” (Khamenei.ir)
Zakani: The Supreme Leader’s message “must be the ultimate arbiter of the supporters and opponents of the JCPOA.” Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani responded to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s open letter to President Rouhani on October 21 endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA Head praised Khamenei for unifying the nation under his “divine” leadership and supporting Parliament’s role in reviewing the nuclear agreement. Zakani stated, “Today’s important message from the Supreme Leader must be the ultimate arbiter of the supporters and opponents of the JCPOA…” (Tasnim News Agency)
Mohammad Reza Bahonar: Do not speak out against the JCPOA. Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Bahonar criticized domestic opponents of the JCPOA during an interview with the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA). The Parliament’s Board of Directors member stated, “Continuing to criticize [the JCPOA] after it has gone through the legal process is unwise.” Bahonar added, “Now we must be careful that the JCPOA is implemented precisely, accurately, and completely protecting Iran’s national interests.” (ICANA)
Hassan Khomeini to decide on running in the upcoming elections at the “right time.” Ayatollah Hassan Khomeini spoke at a meeting with political activists and reformists in Bushehr Province. When asked by audience members if he would run in the upcoming Assembly of Experts elections, the grandson of Supreme Leader Imam Ruhollah Khomeini stated that he will make a decision at the "right time." He stressed though that success of "political, social, cultural and community work requires courage." (Entekhab)
Javad Karimi: There are spies in the Office of the President. Hardliner Parliamentarian Javad Karimi Ghodousi claimed that a network of spies had infiltrated the Office of the President, the Foreign Ministry, Parliament, and the Expediency Discernment Council. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member also said that detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian had “contact” with this network. In response, NSFP Parliamentary commission member Ahmad Shouhani claimed that Ghodousi’s comments were “destructive” and urged for the Rouhani administration to “pursue legal action.” (Asiran)
Salehi highlights plans to build new nuclear power plants. Ali Akbar Salehi expressed his appreciation for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his “unmatched” role in the nuclear issue. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head stated that Khamenei “has always been supportive of us.” Salehi highlighted future “expansion and acceleration in [the] area” of Iran’s nuclear activities, including “creating and building new nuclear power plants and production of fresh water, especially in the southern regions of the country.” (ISNA)
Vaezi: We are not blocking Telegram. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi denied allegations made by Pavel Durov, the founder of the messaging application Telegram, that Iran had temporarily blocked the application. Durov claimed that Telegram had denied the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s request to provide the regime access to user data. (Mehr News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Marzieh Afkham: Saudi Arabia does not have the right to level accusations towards Iran. Marzieh Afkham responded to Saudi Foreign Minister’s Adel al Jubeir’s October 19 criticism of Iran’s foreign policy during a press conference. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman claimed that Jubeir did not have the “right” to critique Iran’s role in the region and called Jubeir’s comments “unwise and outside the norms of diplomacy.” Adel al Jubeir claimed that Iran is now an “occupier of Arab lands in Syria.” (IRIB)
Haghighat Pour: The Saudi Foreign Minister should be ashamed. Haghighat Pour condemned Adel al Jubeir’s remarks during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Stenimeier. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman threatened Saudi Arabia, stating, “We are waiting to hear the sound of [Saudi Arabia’s] defeat.” He added, “[Adel al Jubier] should be ashamed! A country which causes daily mass killings of the Iraqi and Syrian people with oil money should not say such ridiculous things.” (Ghatreh )
- Haghighat Pour: The Saudi Foreign Minister should be ashamed. Haghighat Pour condemned Adel al Jubeir’s remarks during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Stenimeier. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman threatened Saudi Arabia, stating, “We are waiting to hear the sound of [Saudi Arabia’s] defeat.” He added, “[Adel al Jubier] should be ashamed! A country which causes daily mass killings of the Iraqi and Syrian people with oil money should not say such ridiculous things.” (Ghatreh )
Two IRGC members killed in Syria. 1st Lt. Kameil Gorbani and 2nd Lt. Hassan Ahmadi were both members of the IRGC 8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division. Najaf Abad News reported that six members of the 8th Armored Najaf Ashraf Division have died in Syria “in the last two years.” (Najafabad News)
Iranian national killed in northeastern Syria. Reza Damroudi was killed on October 18 in Al Hassaka governorate, northeastern Syria. No rank or title was given. He was from Sabzevar County, Razavi Khorasan Province and was buried in his hometown on October 21. (Ghatreh)
- Larijani: Russia has a “realistic vision” on Syria. Ali Larijani spoke with reporters before traveling to Sochi, Russia, for a conference. The Parliament Speaker stated, “In the current situation with regard to the atmosphere which exists in the region… we support Russia’s… role in the fight against terrorism.” Larijani stated that Russia has a “realistic vision on the subject” of Syria; he continued, “Upon the request of the Syrian government, Russia came to its aid, and followed the legal and logical procedure.” (Mehr News )
Officials meet to discuss “plans and projects” for the Resistance Economy. Eshagh Jahangiri emphasized "the important role of the Judiciary and Parliament in the development of the Resistance Economy during a meeting with senior officials. The First Vice President also illustrated the "flaws in the implementation of targeted subsidies" that "caused many problems for the government," and he stated plans would be made "to correct the situation." At the end of the meeting, "details of plans and projects" would be "submitted to the Supreme Leader" for confirmation on beginning implementation. (Mehr News)
First international contract signed. Jahangiri announced that the first international contract since the nuclear deal has been signed and the Rouhani administration will “soon approve its steps.” According to the contract, 4.2 million euros will be invested in Iran’s electrical industry.” No further details were provided. (Mehr News)
- First international contract signed. Jahangiri announced that the first international contract since the nuclear deal has been signed and the Rouhani administration will “soon approve its steps.” According to the contract, 4.2 million euros will be invested in Iran’s electrical industry.” No further details were provided. (Mehr News)
European representatives meet with Iranian Chamber of Commerce officials. Ambassadors, commercial advisors, and chargés d'affaires of nine European countries and members of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce jointly emphasized that cooperation between Europe and Iran could enter a new era of relations after the removal of sanctions. Iranian Chamber of Commerce Chairman Masoud Khansari explained that the meeting was intended to enhance each side’s awareness of opportunities for expanded economic cooperation. (IRIB)
- Zamaninia: Russians know how to do business in Iran. Deputy Petroleum Minister for Commerce and International Affairs Amir Hossein Zamaninia told reporters that Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh would discuss developments in the international oil market and ways to enhance energy cooperation with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak during Novak’s trip to Tehran. Zamaninia also expressed hope that the meetings with Novak’s delegation, which includes the heads of 10 major Russian firms, would “bear positive results.” (IRNA)(E)
Military and Security
- Weeklong program to promote passive defense themes. Colonel Mohsen Mohebi described a weeklong program of introducing “new fields” to the Passive Defense Organization during a press conference. The Passive Defense Organization Spokesman stated that Armed Forces General Staff Chief Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi issued instructions to all of the organization’s departments to ensure that the week’s objectives were met at “the community level.” Each day reflects a special theme, with the first day reflecting on the "national authority in the light of advances in science and indigenous knowledge.” The second day emphasizes a "healthy society" in leading to "national stability." The third day focuses on "sustainable security," and the fourth day focuses on the "Resistance Economy of the nation-state." The fifth day emphasizes "jihad and community mobilization." The sixth day concentrates on "standardizing and strengthening infrastructure," and the final day focuses on improving the "national capital in cyberspace." (Tasnim News Agency)