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: President Hassan Rouhani announced that his administration will implement the nuclear deal according to the Supreme Leader’s “considerations and requirements.”

In a response to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s October 21 letter conditionally approving the nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani said that the government will implement the agreement based on Khamenei’s “considerations and requirements” as well as on the resolutions from Parliament and the Supreme National Security Council. Rouhani also indicated that, per Khamenei’s mandate in his 21 October letter, the U.S. and the EU have provided “written and formal” guarantees of the complete lifting of all economic and financial sanctions.

Managing editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari welcomed Khamenei’s comments on sanctions relief in the Supreme Leader’s October 21 letter.  Shariatmadari argued that Khamenei’s language will deter the West from sanctioning Iran on the basis of “accusations like human rights and terrorism” during the nuclear deal’s eight-year term.

A delegation of Russian officials led by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met with senior regime officials. Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan noted during a meeting with Novak that “current conditions require that Iran and Russia increase their cooperation in economic, political, and defense spheres.” Meanwhile, an Artesh Navy flotilla docked in the Russian port of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. 

Frederick Kagan highlights the Supreme Leader’s interpretation of the nuclear deal and his plan for its implementation in a blog post, “Khamenei’s nuclear signing statement reveals Iran’s attempt to control the playing field.” Kagan also discusses how the Supreme Leader’s implementation plan will likely harm President Hassan Rouhani politically in the spring election in a separate blog post, “Another nuclear headache for Iran’s president — and for Obama.”

Matthew McInnis analyzes recent reports of Iranian deployments into Syria in support of the offensive towards Aleppo, and discusses the implications for Iran’s role in the ongoing conflict, in his most recent blog post, “Iranian deployments indicate a shift in the Syria conflict.”

Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Rouhani responds to Supreme Leader’s letter. President Hassan Rouhani published a response to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s October 21 letter conditionally approving the implementation of the nuclear agreement. Rouhani wrote that the government will begin implementing the deal based on Khamenei’s “considerations and requirements” as well as on the resolutions from Parliament and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Rouhani assured Khamenei that the “fulfillment of the opposing party’s commitments” will be monitored with “complete vigilance.” He added that the SNSC will “adopt the appropriate decision for the proper course of action” while monitoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA’s, implementation.
    • Rouhani stated that both U.S. President Barack Obama and the EU provided “written and formal” announcements of the complete lifting of all economic and financial sanctions. Rouhani added that the Iranian economy will begin a “new chapter” within the framework of the Resistance Economy after sanctions are lifted.
    • Rouhani stated that “for the first time in the history of the UN,” the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has accepted the uranium enrichment of a country which is not a permanent member of the UNSC. Rouhani added that “prohibition of any type of cooperation with Iran has turned into encouragement of global participation [with Iran] in the field of advanced technologies.”
    • Rouhani claimed that the UNSC has acknowledged a “fundamental change in its approach to Iran’s nuclear program. For the first time, 6 binding resolutions of the UNSC, through negotiation and without being implemented for a moment by us, have been cancelled altogether. The JCPOA’s ‘win-win’ approach has caught the world’s attention as a model for the peaceful resolution of complex global problems.” (
  • Araghchi: Our lawyers are reviewing Obama’s order on sanctions. Abbas Araghchi discussed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s letter to Rouhani and “new” government commitments during a televised interview. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs stated that the EU and the U.S. have acted according to their commitments under the nuclear deal so far.
    • On sanctions relief: Araghchi discussed U.S. President Barack Obama’s October 18 order on sanctions relief. Araghchi said that Obama “has issued the necessary order for all required officials to be prepared and [to] nullify sanctions on the appointed day that the [International Atomic Energy] Agency announced… This order has also been registered in America’s official [legal] gazette and has now found the proper legal form.” Araghchi added that Iranian lawyers are in the process of “reviewing” Obama’s order; when asked what would happen if the lawyers decide that Obama’s “written guarantee” on sanctions is insufficient, Boroujerdi stated, “If we reach such a result, we will say that [our] opinion has been revised and a newer order [must] be issued.”  He echoed Khamenei’s statement that “any type of imposition of new sanctions will be considered a violation of the JCPOA.”
    • On the Arak heavy water reactor: Araghchi reiterated that the file on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program must be concluded before Iran takes steps regarding the Arak heavy water reactor and fuel swaps. He claimed that Iran’s PMD file “was the root… of all sanctions against us.” He added that, according to the JCPOA, a “formal document” between Iran and P5+1 countries must be signed that identifies each country’s commitments for renovations on the Arak reactor before Implementation Day. Araghchi said that the document is currently being “reviewed” and that it will eventually be signed by the seven countries.
    • While discussing the future of Iran’s nuclear program, Araghchi added that he believes Iran will reach “more than” 190,000 Separative Work Units (SWU) after 15 years. (ILNA)
  • Boroujerdi: Any sanctions during the eight- year period will be a violation of the JCPOA. Principlist parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi issued a statement praising Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “guidance” following his October 21 letter to President Hassan Rouhani. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman stated, “The [Supreme] Leader’s letter represents the pinnacle of distrust of America... Officials must act wisely throughout the JCPOA’s implementation.” Boroujerdi also discussed sanctions relief, stating, “Throughout the eight-year period, the realization of any type of sanction under any pretext through any of the negotiating countries is a violation of the JCPOA. The government will [then] be responsible for taking necessary steps and ceasing activities under the JCPOA.” (ICANA)
  • Shariatmadari: The Supreme Leader has ensured that the U.S. cannot impose non-nuclear sanctions on Iran. Hossein Shariatmadari praised the Supreme Leader’s letter to President Hassan Rouhani endorsing the nuclear deal in a recent editorial. The managing editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan wrote that the Supreme Leader’s “recommendations” in the letter were the “redlines that were not included in the JCPOA… but should have been: [as a result] some friends have not taken them seriously…” Shariatmadari also commented on the Supreme Leader’s language regarding the enforcement of terrorism or human-rights-related  sanctions:
    • “This clause…has a very important and significant element. This clause takes aim at the obvious approach of the enemy... The enemy has insisted that the JCPOA only introduces a nuclear [issue]. This had opened a separate opportunity for baseless accusations like human rights and terrorism. The Supreme Leader has discarded this peripheral issue wisely and accurately.” (Kayhan)
  • Javad Karimi: President Rouhani is failing to promote Islamic values in society. Hardliner parliamentarian Javad Karimi criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s social policies during an interview with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in Khorasan Razavi province. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member claimed that President Rouhani is ignoring his duty to promote Islamic values in society and suggested that Parliament should pass legislation to enforce these  values. (Fars News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry: We welcome the results of the Canadian elections. Marzieh Afkham welcomed the Liberal Party’s victory in the Canadian federal elections during a news interview. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman stated, “The elections of this country reflect the will and the demands of the Canadian people to distance themselves from extremist policies.” (Tabnak
  • Bahonar: The Principlists must unite so the reformists do not control the next parliament. Principlist Mohammad Reza Bahonar urged unity among Principlists ahead of the February 2016 parliamentary elections during a speech at a conference for members of the Islamic Society of Engineers political party. Bahonar, who is the Islamic Society of Engineers Chairman, stated, “Today everyone thinks that the elections will have a great impact on the fate of the country... in many of cities we have serious reformist contenders who are active. Therefore we conservatives must sense the need for unity…”  Mohammad Reza Bahonar is also Parliament’s Deputy Speaker and a member of Parliament’s Board of Directors. (ISNA)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Abdollahian: The number of advisors in Syria is proportional to our capabilities and the requests of the Syrian government. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed Iran’s presence in Syria during an interview with The Guardian. Abdollahian reiterated his previous claims that Iran has increased the number of military advisors in Syria and stated, “The number of advisors in Syria is proportional to our capabilities and the requests of the Syrian government.” Abdollahian added, “If necessary, we can provide the same assistance to our Russian friends.” (IRINN)
  • Abdollahian meets with British foreign minister. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond in London. (MFA)
  • Iran reopens border with Turkey. Local officials in West Azerbaijan province announced the official reopening of a section of Iran’s border with Turkey on October 22. Turkey had closed the border along the Iranian city of Khoy and the Turkish city of Razi for two months due to “Turkey’s security problems.” (Mashregh News)
  • Supreme Leader’s representative presents report on Hajj stampede. Representative of the Supreme Leader to Hajj Affairs Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Ghazi Askar presented a report on the September 24 Hajj stampede to Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani. Askar stated that Iran has held meetings with “officials and Hajj ministries of 30 countries” and added that “Saudi Arabia was trying to bury the bodies [of Iranian victims] without our consent” before Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei compelled Saudi Arabia to cooperate in returning the bodies. Askar reiterated calls for the formation of a fact-finding committee to identify “those guilty” for the stampede. (Jahan News)
  • Senior cleric urges “individuals and institutions” to follow up on Mina stampede. Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi called for the immediate formation of a fact-finding committee to investigate the September 24 Hajj stampede outside of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Shirazi urged “individuals and institutions” to “pursue this issue through international bodies.” (Rasa News)
  • Jahangiri: Iran and Russia expand bilateral ties. During a meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Eshagh Jahangiri stated Russia has “an importance place” in Iranian foreign policy, and noted that discussions during Novak’s visit contributed to improved relations between the two countries. The First Vice President added that he expects Russia to play a “helpful role” in the JCPOA implementation process. (IRIB
  • Three Afghans killed in Syria. Mojtaba Hosseini, Zia Hosseini, and Ali Gholami, were buried in the city of Qom on October 29. (ABNA)
    •, a website run by the supporters of IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, stated that Hosseini was killed while participating in “military operations in the Busra al Harir region,” in the southern governorate of Dera’a. The website reported that Hosseini was affiliated with the Fatimiyoun Brigade. The website did not note when Hosseini died, but stated that “terrorists” held his body “for months” before releasing it in an exchange. Hosseini reportedly held a degree in computer engineering from the University of Qom and was a “student of one of the seminaries” in Qom. (


Military and Security

  • IRGC Operations Deputy highlights “real cohesion” amongst popular forces in the region. The Basij Beit al Moghaddas and Imam Hossein Battalions of Kermanshah participated in the “Al Beit al Moghaddas” exercises today outside of the city of Kermanshah. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mehdi Rabbani, who attended the exercises, stated, “Today, we are witnessing a new kind of war, called ‘proxy wars,’ in the Middle East region” The IRGC Operations Deputy stated, “What is now occurring on the regional level is the formation of popular and united armed forces aimed at countering extremism and ultimately countering the global arrogance [the West]…Today, we are seriously witnessing the formation of  real cohesion amongst the popular forces to counter extremist groups.” (ISNA)
  • Dehghan: Current conditions require that Iran and Russia increase defense cooperation. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan discussed the expansion of Iran-Russian ties during a meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The Defense Minister stated, “Current conditions require that Iran and Russia increase their cooperation in economic, political, and defense spheres per the political desires of their leaders.” (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Dehghan also responded to allegations that Iran’s recent missile test violated the nuclear deal. He stated, “We have always officially stated that Iran would take steps to boost its defensive framework with a reliance on internal and defensive capabilities…therefore in the agreement… there is only the nuclear issue.” (Mehr News)
  • Iranian flotilla docks in Russian port. The Artesh Navy public affairs group announced that an Artesh Navy flotilla docked in the Russian port of Astrakhan on October 21. The flotilla, which was dispatched to promote “peace and friendship” between Iran and Russia, includes the Damavand frigate and several Andar Peykan missile boats. After departing Astrakhan, the flotilla is scheduled to dock in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. (Defa Press) (Fars News Agency)



  • Iran and Russia agree to establish “Iran-Russia Cooperative Bank.”  Chairman of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Valiollah Seif and Russian delegation headed by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met agreed to establish an “Iran-Russia Cooperative Bank” to promote bilateral trade and remove business obstacles between the two countries. A spokesperson for CBI also announced that Iran will become a member of the Eurasian Development Bank, which was co-founded by Russia. (Tasnim)
  • Akhoundi: Russia awarded electric train contract. Abbas Akhoundi announced that Russia was awarded a contract to connect Garmsar, a city in eastern Tehran province, with the border town of Incheh Borun, located in northeast Iran, during talks with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The Minister of Roads and Urban Development added that Iran introduced a total of 121 projects worth $28 billion in the road, railway, and maritime transport sectors to the Russian delegation. (Press TV) (E)
  • Zanganeh: Iran interested in deepening energy ties with Russia. Bijan Zanganeh reported on the results of energy talks with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak during a press conference. The Energy Minister explained that the discussions focused on several components: cooperating with Russian companies to develop Iranian oil and gas fields, encouraging Russian firms to share technical expertise, and the feasibility of oil and gas “swaps” whereby Iran would receive Russian crude oil and gas and refine them into petrochemical products that would then be exported to Russian customers. (IRNA)
  • Seif: Sanction relief will change Iran’s economy. Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Vaiollah Seif discussed the effect of the nuclear deal on Iran’s economy during an interview with the Financial Times. Seif stated, “When the sanctions are removed, there will be a new condition created for Iran.” Seif added that investors from Asia and Europe are approaching investment opportunities in Iran “with a new outlook and perspective” and “are asking many questions about the new condition.” (Alef)
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