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, Hirad Yaldaei, 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 denied that a victory by Republican nominee Donald Trump in the presidential elections would threaten the nuclear agreement.
Salehi stated, “I do not believe that Trump can have a great effect on the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. It may go up and down a little bit, or some matters may get delayed, but he cannot seriously damage [the agreement].” Trump has alternatively vowed to renegotiate and keep the JCPOA. Salehi’s remarks appear to qualify his own comments from earlier in September, when he warned that the U.S. presidential elections could bring “difficult days” for the nuclear deal. Salehi’s new comments align more closely with those of President Hassan Rouhani, who has asserted that no single politician can undo the deal.
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh stated that Iran has no intention to freeze oil output at current levels ahead of the OPEC meeting in Algeria on September 28. Saudi Arabia had reportedly offered to reduce oil output if Iran were to freeze oil production in an effort to stabilize oil markets. Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted that Iran will ramp up oil production, even as other oil producers such as Russia and Venezuela have suffered from low oil prices. Meanwhile, Rouhani praised the Iranian economy’s resilience to falling oil prices during a speech in Qazvin province. He noted that Iran has experienced “both economic growth and a decrease in inflation” in the past year.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced that Parliament’s Executive Board will begin reviewing legislation for the impeachment of Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani. This is the second time Fani has faced impeachment. Parliament accused Fani in June 2015 of failing “to attract the administration’s attention to the importance of education and training.” Fani survived that impeachment process with 176 votes of confidence.
- 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.”
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
AEOI head: A Trump presidency would not endanger nuclear deal. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi denied that a victory by Republican nominee Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections would threaten the nuclear agreement. Salehi stated, “You can talk a lot and chant slogans, but at the end of the day, you must accept reality.” He added that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “includes mechanisms to address a violations by a party… I do not believe that Trump can have a great effect on the JCPOA. It may go up and down a little bit, or some matters may get delayed, but he cannot seriously damage [the agreement].” (Donya-e Eqtesad)
- Abdollahian: U.S. failed to compel Iran and Russia to abandon Assad. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the international affairs advisor to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and a former deputy foreign minister, claimed that both Iran and Russia resisted U.S. efforts to force them to abandon support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Abdollahian stated that “in recent months” the U.S. “attempted indirectly to persuade [Iran] and force it diplomatically to accept that Bashar Assad [can] play no role in Syria's future… Concurrently, the Americans also made intensive efforts to force Russia to cooperate with the White House in excluding Bashar Assad through a carrot and stick policy, but Moscow showed a wise behavior too.” Abdollahian added that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s repeated bans on negotiating with the U.S. on regional issues caused the U.S. to fail at “deceiving” Iran into abandoning support for Assad. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Parliamentary leadership to review education minister impeachment. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced that Parliament’s Executive Board will begin reviewing legislation for the impeachment of Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani. Parliament’s Education Commissionheld the first round of impeachment hearings in late August. (Hamshahri)
- Ahmadinejad administration accused of mismanaging 48 billion tomans. Parliamentarian Behrouz Bonyadi stated that the head of the Supreme Audit Court of Iran found former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration guilty of misusing 48 billion tomans in various investment projects. He noted that 12 billion tomans was “connected to” Ahmadinejad himself. Parliament supervises the Supreme Audit Court, which monitorsaccounts of all ministries and organizations that use the national budget. Bonyadi referred to the Ahmadinejad administration’s unsuccessful Mehr housing project, which offered developers government land to build low-income housing, as an example of mismanagement. Bonyadi vowed that the case will continue to be investigated. Ahmadinejad recentlyannounced that he will not be running in the 2017 presidential elections at the “advice” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad remains unpopular among many conservative leaders and politicians, in part for his record of economic mismanagement. (ISNA)
Zanganeh: Iran will not cap oil output. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters that Iran has no plans to freeze its oil production at its current level ahead of the OPEC meeting on September 28. Zanganeh claimed that the Iranian delegation does not intend to reach an agreement on oil production during the meeting. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
Rouhani defends economic record. President Hassan Rouhani vowed that economic growth will reach “more than five percent” by the end of the current Persian calendar year (March 2017) during a speech in Qazvin province. He also praised Iran’s economic performance over the past year, stating:
- “You see that all the countries that are oil producers and exporters are experiencing huge problems due to a sharp drop in oil prices over the last year… Saudi Arabia has decreased all government employees’ salaries due to economic conditions and falling oil prices.”
- “Iran was managed smoothly in the last year under very difficult circumstances, when oil prices fell from $120 to $40 per barrel of oil… In the past year we have had both economic growth and a decrease in inflation.” (Fars News Agency) (E) (Tasnim News Agency)
- CBI head: The U.S. has not been transparent in its implementation of the nuclear deal.Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif criticized the U.S. for intimidating foreign banks into not doing business with Iran during a visit to Vienna. He called upon European banks to “facilitate investment and financial projects in Iran.” Iranian officials have repeatedly calledupon the U.S. to “encourage” European banks to invest in Iran following frustration over the effects of sanction relief. American officials have responded by asserting that the U.S. has fulfilled its commitments under the deal and that structural problems in the Iranian economy discourage banks from investing in the country. (Tasnim News Agency)
Military & Security
- Salami: We must increase our deterrence capabilities. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami responded to recent “comments” on “reducing Iran’s military strength.” He stated, “Despite the fact that the enemies engage in political dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran, we see that [the enemies] still speak of military options on the table. Of course, history shows that they have used military means to solve political issues sometimes. So in such circumstances, how can [Iran’s] military and defensive strength be dismantled?” Salami is likely referring to Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s August 10 comments reportedly attributing Germany and Japan’s economic success to the fact that they “were deprived of a military after World War II.” (Tasnim News Agency)