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 Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton and contributors Shayan Enferadi and Ali Javaheri. 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.

Key takeaway: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi warned that the U.S. presidential elections could bring “difficult days” for the nuclear deal.

Salehi stated, “Looking toward the American presidential elections this year, it is possible that the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] has more difficult days ahead of it… I do not rule out that the new American administration may create complications for the implementation of the JCPOA.” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has endorsed the deal but promised to “confront” Iran “across the board.” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has publicly condemned the deal and claimed that he would “renegotiate” the agreement. In March, the managing editor of hardline newspaper Kayhan and close confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hossein Shariatmadari, stated that “crazy Trump’s wisest plan is to tear up the JCPOA.”

Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami criticized the newly-brokered Syrian ceasefire. He claimed that the U.S. and its allies “want a ceasefire so that they can reinforce their own positions.” Khatami’s remarks follow comments by Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, who stressed that the ceasefire must not “be used as a vacuum” upon which anti-regime groups could capitalize.

AEI Must-Reads

  • J. Matthew McInnis explains what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent speech declaring Iran’s “inalienable right” to “offensive and defensive capabilities” could mean for Iran’s future military developments in his latest blog post, “Ayatollah Khamenei takes Iran on the offensive.

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • AEOI head: American presidential elections may bring “difficult days” for nuclear agreement. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi stated that Iran is fully abiding by its commitments under the nuclear deal in remarks on September 15. He also discussed the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He stated, “Looking toward the American presidential elections this year, it is possible that the JCPOA has more difficult days ahead of it. I do not rule out that the new American administration may create complications for the implementation of the JCPOA.” He claimed that Iran would take “calculated steps” if the U.S. violates the JCPOA and added, “We do not give emotional responses. We are patient.” Salehi also criticized the lack of “cooperation between big European banks and Iran” as indicators of “the West’s lack of adherence to the nuclear deal’s requirements.” (Asr Iran) (Fars News Agency)
  • Tehran Friday prayer leader: The U.S. will exploit the ceasefire. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami claimed that the U.S. and its allies “want a ceasefire so that they can reinforce their own positions” and added, “For as long as the U.S. is in Syria, this country will not see stability.” Khatami clarified that Iran “welcomes any method that stops the bloodshed, but the U.S. and its takfiri allies have broken the ceasefire numerous times.” Khatami also defended the rights of Friday prayer leaders to voice political commentary during their sermons, after Rouhani Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakhtcriticized Friday prayer leaders for their objections to the proposed Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations. (Mehr News Agency
    • Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda praised the “Axis of Resistance” and noted that “ISIS and its supporters are currently stuck in a quagmire in Syria.” The “Axis of Resistance” is a term that Iran’s officials use to refer to its proxy forces from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Abdollahian: U.S. “has never targeted Jabhat al Nusra.” Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the international affairs adviser to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and a former deputy foreign minister, stated that the U.S. “will merely increase the losses of life and property of the people of Syria and the region through its political and electoral goals… the sole goal of America’s efforts is the removal of the legal president of Syria, Bashar al Assad.” Abdollahian also discussed Jabhat Fatah al Sham, the successor of Syrian al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra. He stated, “The White House has never targeted this known terrorist group [Jabhat al Nusra], which is on the UN’s blacklist.” (Fars News Agency
  • Rouhani visits Venezuela. President Hassan Rouhani departed Iran on September 16 to travel to Venezuela for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. Rouhani is scheduled to make a short visit to Cuba to meet with Raul and Fidel Castro before addressing the 17th UN General Assembly in New York. (Press TV) (E)  


  • Kermanshah Friday prayer leader: The Statistical Center must be independent. Ayatollah Yusuf Tabatabaei Nejad called for the Statistical Center of Iran to be “independent” of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration during his Friday prayer sermon. He noted, “Statistics are very important for the country’s decision-making.” His comments come as Iranian hardliners have criticized the Statistical Center for reporting significant economic growth in the country in the past year. The public’s perception of Rouhani’s economic policies will play a crucial role in the outcome of the May 2017 presidential elections. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Russia and Iran discuss joint bank. Russia-Iran Friendship Society member Bahram Amirahmadiyan told Russian media outlet Sputnik that Iran and Russia are in talks to establish a joint bank. Amirahmadiyan called carrying out current banking operations between the two countries in dollars or euros “very inconvenient, because all these operations are controlled either by the EU or US central banks.” A joint Russia-Iran bank would allow the two countries to trade in each other’s currencies. (Press TV) (E)

Domestic Politics

  • Deputy parliament speaker: Faults in the Iranian political system must be openly criticized. Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari defended his open criticism of the 1988 execution of an estimated 5,000 political prisoners in Iran. Parliamentarian Abolfazl Hassanbeigi recently criticized Motahari for publicly condemning the executions and the role that Justice Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mostafa Pourmohammadi played in them. Hassanbeigi had stated that Motahari “should send his complaints to the Judiciary confidentially.” Motahari responded to Hassanbeigi by stating, “Some individuals believe that there are faults [in the political system], but they say that the faults must not be openly discussed because it weakens the system… Faults must be discussed openly so that they are not repeated and so that the system is reformed. This is the correct path, in my opinion. Change will be negligible if issues are reformed covertly.” (ISNA) (Mehr News Agency)
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