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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advised former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against running in the 2017 presidential elections.
Khamenei confirmed rumors that he had recommended former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to seek a third term in the May 2017 presidential elections. Khamenei explained that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy “would polarize the country.” Khamenei did not mention Ahmadinejad by name, but Iranian media and conservative figures immediately interpreted Khamenei’s comments as referring to Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad served as president from 2005-2013 and won his second term in the disputed 2009 presidential elections. He later fell out with the Supreme Leader after publicly challenging Khamenei’s authority. Past Iranian presidents have also ended their terms with tense relationships with the Supreme Leader, who holds ultimate authority in the Iranian political system.
- Paul Bucala and Shayan Enferadi analyze the implications of recent instability in Iranian Kurdistan in “Iran’s Kurdish Insurgency.”
- The Critical Threats Project team explains the significance of Iran’s upcoming 2017 presidential election and tracks important electoral developments in “Iran Presidential Election Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
- J. Matthew McInnis argues that Iran has likely recognized its limit in managing Iraq’s fractious political sphere in “Big questions in Iran’s great Iraq game.”
- Khamenei advises Ahmadinejad against running for third term. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly confirmed rumors that he has barred former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from seeking a third term in the upcoming 2017 presidential elections. Khamenei stated on September 26 that “a man came to me, and I told him that it would currently be in his interests and the interests of the country for him not to participate in a certain issue. I did not tell him not to participate. I said I do not consider it to be expedient.” Khamenei justified his remarks by asserting that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy “would polarize the country.” (Fars News Agency) (Khabar Online)
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
AEOI head: Lack of sanctions relief could jeopardize nuclear deal. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that “the comprehensive and quick removal of all sanctions” under the nuclear agreement has not yet been completed despite Iran’s compliance with the deal. According to Iranian Students News Agency, Salehi “warned that it is possible that the historic nuclear agreement between his country and the world powers could be at risk with the foot-dragging on the commitment to remove sanctions.” Iranian officials have protested the lack of economic benefits from the nuclear deal. Iran’s representative to the IAEA Board of Governors similarly warned on September 21 that the deal is “in danger” without a greater improvement in economic relations between Iran and foreign countries. American officials have pushed back on Iran’s claims by asserting that the U.S. has met its commitments under the deal and that Iran’s opaque business sector discourages banks from investing in the country. (Farda News)
Shamkhani: We will accept no nuclear limitations after the nuclear deal save for the Supreme Leader’s commands. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani vowed that Iran will accept “no nuclear restrictions” except those specified by the Supreme Leader after the limitations imposed by the nuclear deal expire. In October 2003, Khamenei issued a fatwa, or religious edict, forbidding the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The SNSC manages the country’s nuclear portfolio, subject to the Supreme Leader’s approval. (Aftab News)
Canadian citizen released from prison. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi announced that Homa Hoodfar, an Iranian-Canadian dual citizen, was released from prison on September 25 for “humanitarian reasons” and returned to Canada via Oman. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the news and thanked Oman, Italy, and Switzerland for their roles in facilitating Hoodfar’s release. The IRGC arrested Hoodfar in June. Tehran’s prosecutor-general later claimed that Hoodfar had been involved “in the fields of feminism and security crimes.” Iranian security forces have arrested multiple dual nationals on security-related charges in the past year, including Iranian-Americans Robin Shahini and Siamak and Baquer Namazi as well as British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (ISNA)
Ghassemi criticizes UAE accusations of Iranian “expansionist policies.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi criticized United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan for his remarks at the UN General Assembly on September 24. He had accused Iran of destabilizing the Middle East with “its expansionist policies” and demanded the return of the three “occupied” islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Ghassemi dismissed the allegations and criticized the UAE for “encouraging the deepening of cleavages and spreading warfare.” Ghassemi also stated that “repeating baseless allegations does not change historical facts” regarding the disputed islands. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Separately, Ghassemi told reporters that Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis did not specify that he was a U.S. government official on his visa application to Iran. Dabakis traveled to Iran this summer as a tourist, but news of his trip only broke afterwards. Ghassemi added that Dabakis did not meet with any Iranian officials during his trip. (Fars News Agency)
Military & Security
Defense minister inaugurates Zulfiqar ballistic missile production line. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan spoke at the inauguration of the Zulfiqar ballistic missile production line on September 25. The defense minister claimed that the Zulfiqar missile “is a surface-to-surface one-stage rocket which works on compound solid fuel and is able to hit and destroy targets at distances up to 700 kilometers.” In earlier remarks before Parliament, Dehghan stated that three more long-range missiles -- the “Ghadir solid-fuel missile,” the “Sejjil precision-guided missile,” and the “Khoramshahr” missile -- will be unveiled before late March 2017. Dehghan also requested that parliamentarians allocate more of the budget to Iran’s defense sector. (Mehr News Agency) (E)
Italian warship docks at Iranian port. Iranian news agencies reported that the Italian frigateEuro docked at the southern port of Bandar Abbas on September 24 for a four-day visit. The visit marks the first time in 15 years that an Italian warship has docked at an Iranian port. The Commander of Iran’s First Naval Zone, Admiral Amir Hossein Azad, claimed that the visit is intended to boost political, military, and cultural relations between the two countries. (Press TV)
Semnan governor comments on arrests of ISIS-linked terror cell. Mohammad Reza Khabaz, the governor of Semnan province, praised Iranian intelligence services after the arrest of ISIS-linked terrorists in Semnan “in recent months.” He did not specify how many individuals were arrested or the date of the arrest. (ISNA)
- Bagheri: Russia and Iran are cooperating in UAV development. Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Chief IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri claimed that Russia is seeking Iran’s help in developing long-range drone technology during a speech at the Sacred Defense University. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Zanganeh downplays OPEC member meeting. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh deemphasized the possibility that OPEC members will reach an agreement on oil production levels during an informal meeting at the 15th International Energy Forum in Algeria. Zanganeh described the meeting as “consultative” and said it is “preparation for the regular OPEC meeting in November.” OPEC member countries are expected to meet on November 30. (Shana)