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 said that Iran “will talk to anyone, anywhere” to find a solution to regional crises.
President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iran “will talk to anyone, anywhere” if it produces a “result [that] establishes security and stability in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and is for the welfare of the people in these countries.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that if Saudi Arabia fails to transfer the bodies of the Iranian pilgrims killed during the September 24 Hajj stampede, Iran will give a “harsh and tough reaction.” Khamenei added that Muslim countries should form a fact-finding committee to investigate the stampede.
Ali Reza Zakani stated that the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, will submit its report to Parliament’s Board of Directors by October 3. Zakani, the commission’s head, claimed that a meeting with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and the late arrival of requested documents from the Foreign Ministry and the IAEA caused the commission to delay the submission of its report. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the commission’s spokesman, said that unlike the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), the Foreign Ministry has not cooperated well with the commission during the review period.
Parliamentarians reacted to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s handshake with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Deputy Parliament Speaker and Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA member Hassan Aboutorabi Fard said that even with the handshake, Iran maintains its red lines against America, while fellow commission member Ali Reza Zakani called Zarif’s decision “a major mistake.”
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?”
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Supreme Leader: Saudi failure to return bodies of Iranians killed in stampede would “spark harsh and tough reactions from Iran.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a joint commencement ceremony for cadets of the Artesh military academies in the port city of Nowshahr, Mazandaran province on September 30. The Supreme Leader expressed his grievances over the recent Hajj stampede in Mina Saudi Arabia and accused Riyadh of negligence and incompetence for failing to protect Muslim pilgrims. He also rebuked the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, alleging that the Saudis are targeting Yemeni people and civilian structures. Khamenei called for the formation of a fact-finding committee, comprised of Muslim countries to investigate the stampede and stated:
- “The Saudi government does not abide by its responsibility in transferring the bodies of the holy martyrs, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has thus far exercised self-restraint and Islamic courtesy, brotherhood, and respect in the world of Islam. However, they [the Saudis] should know that the slightest disrespect to the tens of thousands of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in Mecca and Medina and failure to abide by duties to transfer the holy bodies will spark harsh and tough reactions from Iran.”
- “The exact number of Iranian pilgrims killed in this incident is not known yet; it is likely to rise to hundreds more… the Hajj should be a place of security; is it [called] security when the lives of people are jeopardized during the [Hajj] rituals?”
- On national defense: The Supreme Leader urged Iran’s armed forces to maintain vigilance against enemy plots and stated, “Today, the Islamic establishment needs both hard and soft warfare because today's world—dominated by the devils—is dangerous for the monotheistic people; [we] must always be ready and equipped.”
- “The readiness of the armed forces, including the army, the Revolutionary Guards [IRGC], Basij, and other security forces, is not only meant to prepare for victory against the enemy, but it should also be prepared to be a deterrent.” (Khamenei.ir)
Rouhani: Iran “will talk to anyone, anywhere…to end the bloodshed in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.” President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference on September 29 in Mehrabad Airport after attending the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Rouhani criticized Riyadh for failing to ensure the security of Muslim pilgrims and accused Saudi officials of trying to mislead public opinion from the reality of the stampede. Rouhani said that he cancelled several meetings during his trip to New York upon hearing about the Hajj tragedy. He also highlighted his discussions with American entrepreneurs about investment opportunities in Iran following the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and claimed that “no one spoke about what stage the JCPOA was in; everyone in the world sees the JCPOA as finalized.” Rouhani stated:
- “American entrepreneurs wanted me to have Iran pressure America to lift sanctions against American companies cooperating with Iran so that they can be active in Iran’s economy and take advantage of the space and opportunity presented by the JCPOA.”
- On regional crises: “Some world leaders in the past were considering Iran as the cause of regional issues, but today they are confessing the opposite of their past conceptions and are asking Iran's help to establish peace and security in the region.”
- “I am ready for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen and even if we can protect the blood of one Muslim, we will talk to anyone, anywhere, provided that the result establishes security and stability in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and is for the welfare of the people in these countries.”
- “We are ready to implement any proposal that truly benefits the people of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen…” (President.ir)
Larijani meets with executive board of JCPOA review committee. Ali Larijani met with members of the executive board of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA on September 30. The Parliament Speaker reportedly consulted with the board on the commission’s “final report.” (ILNA)
Larijani meets with Haddad Adel and Zakani. Parliament Speaker Larijani discussed the special commission’s report and the “double emergency plan” with head of the Principlist faction Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Head of the Rahrovan-e Velayat (Followers of the Leader) faction Kazem Jalali, member of Parliament’s Board of Directors Mohammad Dehghan, and Special JCPOA Commission Chairman Ali Reza Zakani on September 30. They decided that the two “primary factions of Parliament” – the Principlist faction and the Rahrovan-e Velayat faction – will jointly prepare and present the double emergency plan to an open session of Parliament “with likeminded thinking and mutual understanding.” The commission’s report on the JCPOA will be read at the October 4 open session of Parliament before the emergency plan is presented. (Mehr News)
Zakani: JCPOA review commission will submit its report on October 3. Ali Reza Zakani noted that the JCPOA review commission can only give recommendations with respect to the JCPOA. The Head of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA noted that the report is scheduled to be delivered to Parliament’s Board of Directors “on Saturday [October 3] so that it will be read in a public session of Parliament on Sunday [October 4].” Zakani said that they had wanted to present the report to the Board of Directors on September 30, but because of the late arrival of documents the commission had requested from the Foreign Ministry and the IAEA, as well as conversations the commission “had with [Parliament Speaker Ali] Larijani,” the report will not be delivered until Saturday.
- On Zarif’s handshake with President Obama: “Mr. Zarif committed a major mistake at the United Nations in shaking hands with Obama.”
- “I hope the governments are warned, and that this does not happen again, and that this…does not undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dignity and status which has been acquired with great investment over 37 years…” (Rasa News)
Naghavi Hosseini: Foreign Ministry has not cooperated with the JCPOA review commission. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini also stated that the commission had asked the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Foreign Ministry for “some documents and minutes form the negotiations” as well as “questions [which] should be answered.” The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA Spokesman also stated that the AEOI “has worked very well with the commission.” He continued, “The Foreign Ministry has not responded to any of these [the commission’s] questions… but the AEOI has worked very well with the commission. [The AEOI] has also shared documents… and has responded to the commission’s 20 questions…it even explained the provisions of the Iran-IAEA roadmap in person for the commission…” (Mehr News)
Haghighat Pour: We will likely submit the double emergency plan to Parliament on Sunday. Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour stated, “If the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA presents its final report to Parliament on Sunday, then the double emergency plan will also be presented on Sunday.” The JCPOA commission member expressed his confidence that the plan will be signed by over 150 parliamentarians. (ICANA)
Parliamentarian: Double emergency plan has been delivered to the Parliament’s leadership. Parliamentarian Rahim Zareh said that the double emergency plan on the JCPOA has been presented to Parliament’s Board of Directors for review. He added that the plan emphasizes Iran’s right to develop its defensive capabilities and also grants the administration the “ability” to implement the JCPOA “based on the Constitution and the Supreme Leader’s red lines.” (ICANA)
Salehi: Parliamentary review will strengthen the JCPOA. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi voiced his approval of Parliament’s review of the JCPOA, and claimed that it will “strengthen” the agreement. Salehi described the review as “fair and just” and noted that the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA’s final report will be read in Parliament on October 4. (IRNA) (E)
Pezeshkian: The nuclear deal does not have to divide society. Parliamentarian Massoud Pezeshkian warned of increased polarization in the wake of the nuclear deal. The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA member noted, “With the polarization of society, the things that we want to achieve will not be gained.” (ICANA)
Shamkhani: There will be no more visits of Parchin. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani pushed back on criticism over IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s trip to Parchin, stating, “The presence of Amano at Parchin was a visit, not an inspection; there will be no more visits of Parchin at any level.” (Entekhab)
Deputy Speaker defends Zarif's handshake with Obama. Hassan Aboutorabi Fard responded to the criticism towards Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his handshake with President Obama, stating that "the authorities [Zarif and Obama] should be respected." The Deputy Parliament Speaker added that it is "not proper to criticize" the decision by Zarif. Even with the handshake, Fard stated that Iran maintains its red lines towards America and that "the Iranian nation will never forget the history of America's crimes in the past half century." (ISNA)
- Parliamentarian defends Zarif's handshake with U.S. president. Parliamentarian Ali Motahari stated that the handshake between Foreign Minister Zarif and U.S. President Obama was a "small, unimportant matter," and that it is more important for authorities to focus on "their aspirations, such as the Palestinian issue." He added that it is "not leadership" to be "insulting and disrespectful" to officials of the Islamic Republic and other "approved persons." (YJC)
- Members of Parliament protest over the Zarif-Obama handshake. Members of Parliament started chanting "Death to America," in protest of Foreign Minister Zarif's handshake with President Obama at the UNGA. Parliamentarian Bahram Biranvand criticized Zarif and his staff by stating, "With whose permission have they met with Obama?" (IRIB)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Judiciary Spokesman: Both security forces and the people must be vigilant for spies. Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei condemned “spies” working for America and censured Saudi authorities for the Hajj stampede. The Judiciary Spokesman stated that spies “come and lay the groundwork for the enemy…[Spies] say that America is not the enemy and that it has come to its senses. Why don’t we extend our hand to Obama?…Someone today who wants to spy for America, the Great Satan, and cooperate with that country, is a criminal, a traitor, and deserving of punishment.” Ejei added that another type of spy is one who “underestimates the nation’s capabilities” and attributes all of the country’s problems to sanctions. Ejei emphasized that Iran’s “security forces are vigilant for [foreign] influences and spies” and stated that it is “the duty of all citizens” to be alert as well.
On the Hajj stampede: Ejei stated that those responsible for the Hajj stampede should compensate affected families and be “immediately punished.” He added, “Some Saudi officials are saying that the event was fate. In response to them, it must be said – why have you not helped the people? Why didn’t you follow up on dimensions of the event? In this respect, you are responsible.” Ejei also called upon statesmen to “put pressure on the rulers of al Saud and investigate the various dimensions of this event through cooperation with other Islamic countries.” (Mashregh News)
- On the Hajj stampede: Ejei stated that those responsible for the Hajj stampede should compensate affected families and be “immediately punished.” He added, “Some Saudi officials are saying that the event was fate. In response to them, it must be said – why have you not helped the people? Why didn’t you follow up on dimensions of the event? In this respect, you are responsible.” Ejei also called upon statesmen to “put pressure on the rulers of al Saud and investigate the various dimensions of this event through cooperation with other Islamic countries.” (Mashregh News)
Boroujerdi: U.S. policies and analyses caused the emergence of regional terrorist groups. Alaeddin Boroujerdi blamed “America’s colonial policies” and false analyses for the emergence of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq during a meeting with the Chairman of the Czech Republic’s Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, František Bublan. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman also stated that he anticipates an increase in mutual investment and technological exchange between Iran and European countries, including the Czech Republic, after the lifting of sanctions. (Tasnim News Agency)
Iran’s ambassador to Syria discusses four-point peace plan. Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani discussed Iran’s four-point plan for resolving the Syrian crisis during a September 30 interview with a Lebanese newspaper. The Ambassador to Syria stated that the plan begins with “talks between the government and the opposition forces who believe in a political solution and finally leads to the formation and designing of Syria's political future based on holding comprehensive and pervasive Syrian-Syrian talks." Sheibani added that “the central government and the government's pivotal role” in counterterrorism must also be considered in discussions on resolving the crisis. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Salami: Hajj disaster is a “tipping point” for the “decay” of Saudi Arabia. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami condemned the Saudi regime for its lack of a "political capacity to manage crises.” He continued by criticizing Saudi Arabia for its "arrogant and ambitious spirit" in attacking the "defenseless and poor" people in Yemen. He added that the Hajj stampede illustrates a "disgusting scandal,” while serving as "a tipping point" for the “erosion and decay” of the House of Saud. Salami added:
- On changing warfare: Salami stated that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is in battle with enemies engaging in the fields of religious and cultural wars," but that "the past has changed the face of modern warfare."
- On the U.S.: Salami stated that Americans "would not expose themselves to direct military action" against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. He added that the U.S. is in a "great battle" with Iran and the Muslim world, and that the U.S. has "incurred great losses" in the past “35 years.”
On Syria: He added that the Russian military entry into Syria has changed the "equation,” while also asserting that Syrian President Bashar al “Assad’s view of the U.S. is an important part of the solution.” (Defa Press)
- Firouzabadi: “Passive defense measures” needed to block U.S. influence. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated that "passive defense measures" are required "to block...America's influence in the country." The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief reiterated the orders of the Supreme Leader "to prevent the infiltration of America" and admitted that on this "important policy...we have a problem." He added that the country should continue to avoid "the influence of America in all aspects of cultural, economic, political, educational, and research” matters. He added that the term "U.S." refers to "a matter of universal arrogance," including Great Britain and Israel. (Sepah News)
Iran issues first “Islamic” treasury bills. The Iranian government issued at least 400,000 “Islamic” treasury bills with a maturity date of March 3 2016 on the Fara Bourse, Iran’s primary securities and financial instruments market. The treasury bills are expected to have an effective interest rate higher than the official bank deposit rate in hopes of attracting assets the government can use to pay off debts to contractors and banks. (Press TV) (E)
Germany will invest €350 million in Iranian power plants. Mahmoud Janghorban announced the completion of negotiations with German investors to invest €350 million in thermal, wind, and solar powered electric plants in Khuzestan province. The CEO of the Khuzestan Regional Electric Company stated that the new plants will add 250 megawatts of electrical capacity, and will be completed by 2017. (Kayhan)
- British trade delegation to begin four-day Iran visit Friday. Martin Johnson, Director General of the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, announced that a British trade delegation will arrive in Iran to familiarize itself with the country’s trade climate, and lay a foundation for investments once sanctions are lifted. The delegation will include 15 companies from the health, transportation, mining, and energy sectors, and will inspect various aspects of Iran’s economy including banks, the stock exchange, and the Ministry of Industries and Mines and the Ministry of Petroleum. (Press TV) (E)