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

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani argued that strengthening “the central government” of Syria is the “first step” to fighting terrorism in Syria.

During a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on September 26, President Rouhani stressed that the “first step” to fight terrorism in Syria “should be to strengthen the central government” of Damascus. During a September 27 interview with CNN, Rouhani stated, “everyone has accepted that President Assad must remain so that we can combat the terrorists.” He also said, “However, as soon as this [anti-terrorism] movement reaches the various levels of success and starts driving out the terrorists on a step-by-step basis, then other plans must be put into action so as to hear the voices of the opposition as well." Rouhani and other senior Iranian officials have yet to confirm or deny the existence of a joint Russian, Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi “information center” to coordinate the war against ISIS in Baghdad.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated that the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will release its report to Parliament on September 29. The P5+1 and Iran, meanwhile, held a meeting at the ministerial level in New York on September 28.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his September 24 message that the Saudis “must accept responsibility” for last week’s stampede outside Mecca. President Rouhani will cut his New York trip short and return to Iran for the funerals of the Iranians killed in the stampede, which reportedly include Iran’s former Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi.

The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has created several pages on Iran Tracker to help clarify the hyper complex language of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to provide additional information about some of the entities that will be freed of international restrictions.                                                            

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis analyzes the effectiveness of Iranian policy in Iraq and discusses reports that Tehran’s leadership has reigned in IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in his most recent blog post, “Is Iran’s strategy in Iraq adrift?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Rouhani and Ban Ki-moon hold talks on regional security. President Hassan Rouhani discussed ongoing crises in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 26 in New York. Rouhani urged Ban Ki-moon to implement the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) resolution. Rouhani stated, “The Middle East region has faced numerous crises including terrorism and drought, which have displaced thousands of innocent people and left millions insecure… Efforts in fighting terrorism should be harmonized, putting an end to interventions and actions by some countries, particularly in Yemen and Syria.” Rouhani criticized the West and its regional allies for supporting terrorists, claiming: “Some states are seeking to overthrow the central government in Syria before fighting terrorism. Whereas to eradicate terrorism, the first step should be to strengthen the central government, which is responsible for the fight; of course some countries have become closer to this reality.” (
  • Rouhani: Iran is ready to enhance relations with Europe. President Rouhani met with President of the European Council Donald Tusk on September 26. Rouhani said that the EU was burdened by most of the sanctions against Iran, adding that both sides should “revive and expand relations in the new era.” Rouhani added, “Administrative measures and preparation of the lifting of sanctions requires serious momentum from all parties, especially the EU… Although European countries have sent delegations to Iran, we need to plan in a way that—immediately in the post-deal era—we can execute programs in the economic, trade, cultural, scientific, educational, and technological fields.” Rouhani also discussed Syria and stated:
    • “If we all agree that the biggest problem in Syria is terrorists, it will be easier to find a solution since for the fight against terrorism; we will have no choice but to strengthen the central government there.”
    • “The problem with Syria is that some countries have misunderstood the priorities and the Islamic Republic of Iran [views] the terrorist acts in Syria as a major regional issue…and Iran is ready is ready to cooperate in the case of reaching an agreement.” (
  • Rouhani: Clearer communication can bring Iran and the U.S. closer. President Rouhani discussed how to improve Iran-U.S. relations and solve the Syrian crisis during a meeting with experts from American think tanks on September 27.
    • On Iran-U.S. relations: When asked whether both parties will remain committed to implementing the nuclear agreement, Rouhani stated, “We know that some people have doubts about the continuation of the Iran deal. Strange and various talk from officials and American senators are heard in this regard... They speak as if they still do not believe in the maturity of nations... Information must be set forth in a clearer way between the people and officials of the two countries. We must know each other better. This will cause the distance between us to shorten.”
    • Rouhani claimed that the severance in U.S.-Iran relations for the past 36 years was caused “unilaterally by America.” He added, “Whenever relations went towards reducing tensions throughout these years, extremists have opposed it… Extremism is not good for anyone.”
    • “It would not be correct if we imagine that all of the problems that exist between the two countries will be quickly resolved. But we can strive to expand relations in various fields of culture, science, and research.”
    • Rouhani stated that if “domestic conditions in America change so that American investors can have a presence in Iran, it would certainly be influential in reducing tensions between the two countries.”
    • On releasing prisoners: Rouhani also discussed “Iranians in American prisons” and stated, “Certainly after the nuclear agreement and the cancellation of sanctions, there is no reason for them to remain in prison.” He added that a “positive action by America’s government for freeing Iranian prisons can bring about a better atmosphere” for freeing American prisoners in Iran.
    • On Syria: Rouhani said that Syria “has a need for political reforms” and that “opposing terrorism” must be a top priority. He stated that Iran “is ready to cooperate alongside any country that recognizes this priority as the first step in solving the Syrian crisis.”
    • Rouhani stressed that “no law or regulation allows a country to enter the soil of other countries under the pretense of fighting terrorism.” He added, “No country can fight terrorism alone. This action requires the universal participation of all countries.”
    • On Iran-Saudi relations: Rouhani stated that the “distance between Iran and Saudi Arabia is to the benefit of neither country,” but added that the deaths of “around 170 Iranian citizens” in the Hajj stampede demonstrates the Saudi government’s “unpreparedness.” Rouhani added that Saudi Arabia “has focused its mind on interference in Yemen, Syria, and the region so that it cannot plan the organization of guests in the house of God.” (
  • President Rouhani: “Even the missing cannot be identified.” President Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly on September 28, where he discussed regional developments. He stated:
    • On the nuclear deal: “A new chapter has started with Iran’s relationship to the world.”
    • “We showed the potential of constructive conversation.”
    • “We will not forget the past; but we do not want to stay in the past…we look to peace and development.”
    • On terrorism: “One of the greatest threats to the world is for terrorist organizations to become terrorist states.”
    • “Just as we aided in establishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are prepared to help democracy in Syria and Yemen as well.” 
    • “I invite the countries of the world and of the region to form a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to create a united front against extremism and violence.”
    • America’s policies “must be made compatible with the goals and demands of the people of the region.”
    • On the Hajj stampede: “The victims of the Hajj stampede were the victims of incompetence and mismanagement of those in charge… Due to the incompetence of the officials even the missing cannot be identified and the speedy return of the bodies of the deceased to their families has been prevented.”
    • “Public opinion demands that Saudi Arabian officials must immediately fulfill their international obligations and grant consular access to promptly identify and return the bodies… There must also be an independent investigation into the causes of this disaster.” (
  • Rouhani meets with French counterpart. President Rouhani met with French President François Hollande on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York. During the meeting, both leaders emphasized "that all parties should strive to meet their obligations" according to the nuclear agreement. Rouhani also thanked Hollande for expressing his condolences of the Iranian deaths in the Hajj stampede. (ISNA)
    • Rouhani meets with Brazilian counterpart. President Rouhani met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff; both officials discussed improving "economic, trade, scientific and cultural relations." Rouhani stated that Iran has a strong interest in cooperating with the BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). (ISNA)
    • Rouhani meets with Swedish prime minister. Rouhani met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in New York. Both sides expressed interest in improving economic relations and "become more familiar with each other's capacities and capabilities." Löfven stated that a Swedish economic delegation to Tehran is "imminent." (ISNA)
    • Rouhani meets with Turkish prime minister. Rouhani met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and stated that both countries "should expand cooperation and consultations" to prevent further "terrorist crimes against Muslims in Iraq and Syria." Davutoglu stated that "relations between Iran and Turkey is still the top priority of the government," while also expressing satisfaction with the nuclear deal. Davutoglu stated that he hopes the nuclear agreement "will open new horizons for economic relations," with the goal being "$30 billion in business." (IRIB)
    • Rouhani meets with Italian foreign minister. Rouhani met with Italian Foreign Minister Matteo Renzi and discussed economic relations with Italy, stating, "Considering that some Italian firms have had cooperation with Iran in oil, gas, and heavy industries, the ground is more prepared for their operation in Iran's economy." In addition, Rouhani stated that "there is little doubt" that the violence in the Middle East "will spread to the Mediterranean" and that cooperation with Italy can reduce these regional tensions. (IRIB)
    • Rouhani meets with Japanese prime minister. Rouhani met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 27.The two discussed improving bilateral relations, especially "in the field of peaceful nuclear energy." (IRIB)
    • Rouhani meets with Bolivian president. President Rouhani met with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales on the sidelines of the UNGA. Rouhani stated that "Latin America, especially Bolivia, is of special importance to Iran." (IRIB)
    • Rouhani meets with his Ecuadorian counterpart. President Rouhani met with his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa and stated that the lifting of sanctions will allow Iran to develop better economic relations with Ecuador. (IRIB)
    • Rouhani meets with his Senegalese counterpart. President Rouhani met with Senegalese President Macky Sall. Rouhani discussed the spread of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, stating "all must be unified against terrorism." (IRIB)

  • Zarif: We have not held talks with America on Syria. Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed his September 26 meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in New York during a televised interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The Foreign Minister stressed that his direct talks with Secretary Kerry were focused on the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions, adding: “The American side stressed that it is committed to implementing the JCPOA.” Zarif also reiterated Iran’s position on negotiations and stated, “We said from the beginning discussions with America would only be on the nuclear issue…as I said, based on the framework outlined by the Supreme Leader…we did not talk about the issue of Syria or other issues.” (Mashregh News)
    • Zarif meets with Iraqi counterpart on the sidelines of UNGA. Foreign Minister Zarif also met with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Jafari on the sidelines of the UNGA. Zarif and Jafari discussed key regional and international issues, including the necessity of resolving the Syrian crisis and preventing disasters like the September 24 Hajj stampede. Jafari also stated that Iraq supports Iran’s efforts to play an important role in solving regional crises. (Mehr)
  • Number of Iranians killed in Hajj stampede reach 169. The Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi said that at least 169 Iranian citizens were killed during the Hajj stampede. Former Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi is reported to have been among the dead. (Entekhab) (Fars News Agency)
  • Supreme Leader: Saudis “must accept responsibility” for Hajj stampede. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a gathering of clerics and discussed the stampede outside of Mecca. The Supreme Leader criticized Saudi authorities for “shifting blame,” rather than accepting responsibility and “apologizing” to the Muslim world. (
  • ?Yazdi: A fact-finding group should follow up on the Mina tragedy. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi emphasized the “importance of following up on the Mina tragedy” and called for the formation of a “fact-finding group from the Islamic world.” The Assembly of Experts Chairman said that “at minimum, a group of representatives from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should carry out this mission… Providing condolences to the families of those who have been martyred is not enough.” Yazdi added that it is “not unlikely” that the tragedy is the result of a “plot.” (Rasa News)
  • Judiciary Head: The Ministry of Justice must investigate the Mina incident. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani discussed the Hajj stampede during a meeting with senior judiciary officials. The Judiciary Head called for the Ministry of Justice to investigate the incident “in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and Islamic countries.” Larijani stated that Saudi Arabia cannot ignore its responsibility for the stampede and must apologize to the world. Sadegh Larijani added that “Islamic countries must find a solution to avoid a repeat of the incident at Mina.” (YJC)
  • Salami slams “old and rotten Saudi political system.” IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami condemned the “inadequacy, mishandling, and lack of competence in the old and rotten Saudi political system” following the September 24 stampede outside of Mecca. He stated, “A regime that does not have the capacity to handle current issues; when it began a great war with a country like Yemen and displaced the Syrian people, it is natural that it does not have the ability to manage the massive event of the Hajj.” He also stated, “Islam has been and is a great source of the identity of part of Iran’s character; events such as the Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq War] also form elements of Iran’s identity.” (Sepah News)
  • Health minister to lead Iranian delegation to Saudi Arabia. Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Health Minister Hassan Hashemi will lead an Iranian delegation on a visit to Jeddah in the near future. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs also noted Iran is arranging a visit to Saudi Arabia by Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ayatollah Ali Jannati, who heads the cabinet task force on the Mina stampede. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Naghdi: Saudi Arabia and Israel cannot continue without U.S. support. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi censured Riyadh for its incompetence and blamed the Hajj stampede on Saudi authorities. The Basij Organization Commander underscored Riyadh and Tel Aviv’s dependence on the U.S., and said that “if America stops supporting Saudi Arabia and Israel,” the two will not last for more than a year. (Basij News)
  • Jazayeri: Iran-U.S. relations will remain hostile until the U.S. changes “course.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri discussed the nuclear deal’s impact on Washington’s behavior towards Iran and stated, “we aren’t observing [even] the smallest change in the hostile behavior of [the U.S.] with respect to the Islamic Revolution and our country; at the height of the negotiations – and even before and after them – [the Americans] talk of the military option on the table, and seek to create change in Iran’s behavior and policies in every possible way.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy stated, “America is looking for a one-way street, with itself alone at the helm. It is clear that Iran has not accepted and will not accept such a thing, so the conflict between America and Iran will continue until the Americans change course.” With respect to Iran’s “readiness to deal with threats from the Zionist regime,” he stated: “Fortunately, [Iran’s] defense capabilities and military situation is such that it is unlikely that the Israelis will commit such great foolishness.” (Entekhab)
  • Parliamentary delegation travels to Russia. An Iranian delegation chaired by Parliamentarian Amir Khojasteh met with “professors and teachers” from a “school of Iranians” in Moscow. The Chairman of Parliament’s Councils and Internal Affairs Commission stated that “special attention to teachers and fixing their economic problems is a primary concern of parliament representatives.” (ICANA)
  • Bahrain summons Iranian chargé d'affaires. The Foreign Ministry of Bahrain summoned Tehran’s chargé d'affaires to Manama Mohammad Reza Babaei “in protest of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s positions on Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, the West Bank, Gaza, and other parts of the world.” (Tasnim News Agency)


Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Zarif: Iran and P5+1 are meeting discuss details of JCPOA’s implementation on September 28. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that China is coordinating talks between Iran and the P5+1 to discuss issues related to implementing the JCPOA, including the “reconstruction of the Arak reactor,” the “mechanisms for lifting sanctions,” and other “commitments.” (IRNA) (E)
  • Larijani: The JCPOA report will be released September 29. Ali Larijani stated that the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA will release its report to Parliament on September 29. The Parliament Speaker also discussed the Hajj stampede, stating, “I have a request for the Foreign Ministry to put all its efforts into identifying victims of the Mina tragedy… in order to return the bodies of the holy victims to Iran more quickly.” (Tabnak)
  • Shamkhani: The JCPOA review is in its final stages. Ali Shamkhani stated that the JCPOA’s review in Parliament is in its “final stages” on September 27. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary stated, “In the event that the opposing side acts based on its commitments, it [the JCPOA] will pass.” (Alef)
  • Rafsanjani: The structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran is completely based on the people. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani discussed the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during a ceremony at Azad University in Tehran. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, noted:
    • “The structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran is completely based on the people from head to toe…In the Islamic Republic, the Parliament, the administration, the President, and even the Supreme Leader – the highest official in the country—are elected…It is possible that in the elections problems might arise…but the basis of the elections is preserved. It is sufficient to correctly implement the Constitution to remove these problems. Of course, people give themselves the right to interpret the constitution differently...” (ILNA)
  • Shariatmadari: The President continuing his trip is insulting to the victims of the Hajj stampede. Hossein Shariatmadari criticized President Rouhani for not canceling his trip to New York in the wake of the stampede at Mina. The managing editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan said that Rouhani’s trip is “insulting and in complete disregard to the victims and their families.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Rouhani breaks off visit to UNGA to attend funeral for Hajj stampede victims. President Hassan Rouhani will return to Iran to attend the funerals of Iranians killed in the Hajj stampede after delivering a speech to the UNGA according to Parviz Esmaili, the president’s deputy chief of staff. (Press TV) (E)



  • Rouhani's “economic strategy” is to reduce the oil dependency. Ali Kardo stated, "President Hassan Rouhani's economic strategy is to significantly reduce the government's dependency on oil and instead collect tax more systematically.” The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Deputy Managing Director added that the country has had to shift its reliance on crude to taxation revenue as oil prices plummet, stating, "For the first time in 50 years, the government's share of the oil revenue is less than what is earning from tax including value-added tax (VAT).” (Kayhan) (E)
  • Rouhani meets with Iranian entrepreneurs in the U.S. President Rouhani met with prominent Iranian entrepreneurs and investors on September 26 in New York. Rouhani discussed investment opportunities in the wake of the nuclear deal. Rouhani said that the Iranian economy needs $150 billion of foreign investment and added, “Certainly we must use foreign investment for this purpose…today after the nuclear deal an appropriate atmosphere has been created for developing investment.”” (
Arrow down red
Oct '15
Sep '15
Aug '15