Iran News Round Up December 17, 2013
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Will Fulton and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributor John Lesnewich. 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.
- Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei warned, “From the aspect of domestic oil consumption, the country’s situation has tripled in the past thirty years, starting with 625 thousand barrels per day (bpd) in 1980, and reaching 1.97 million bpd. If this growth continues for the next thirty years, it is possible that we will not even have a single barrel of oil to export. It is important to review the direction this consumption is headed toward.”
- Support Organization Inspection Deputy Mojtaba Farahani announced President Rouhani’s order banning any further price increases until the end of the Persian year in March 2014.
- Former President Mohammad Khatami emphasized the necessity of implementing the civil rights charter and criticized surveillance, stating, “They have created an atmosphere where all individuals feel they are under severe surveillance.”
- National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Vice-Chairman MP Mansour Haghighat Pour criticized recent comments by former intelligence official and prominent reformist activist Saeed Hajjarian, who stated in an interview this past Sunday that the constitution may be altered to allow the dissolution of the Parliament by the government. Haghighat Pour stated that these remarks are the “ultimate in dictatorial despotism” which is “unacceptable for society.”
- Expediency Discernment Council Strategic Research Center (CSR) Executive and Information Deputy Gholam Reza Forouzesh spoke at a ceremony commending the four premier researchers at the CSR and stated, “The average budget increase of research institutions is between 12-18%, but the budget of the Strategic Research Center increased 10% for next year…. However, it seems that a larger budget will later be secured from other places.”
- New Leader of the Followers of the Line of the Imam and Supreme Leader Front [a collection of conservative political groups] Mohammad Reza Bahonar warned that “If the Geneva agreement is voided, it is probable that enrichment will go even to 60%.”
- Tehran MP Hamid Resaei criticized the Rouhani Administration for transferring the nuclear negotiations to the Foreign Ministry from the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), and said that the responsibility should be returned to the SNSC to prevent any more damage to the negotiations. He also heavily criticized FM Zarif’s handling of a number of issues, which showed that he was “unable to lead the Foreign Ministry.”
- “It has now become clear to many that the negotiations team under the leadership of Mr. Zarif has given the maximum concessions and received the trivial minimum of concessions. “
- “The cause of conflicting stances is that the government trusts the Westerners and is optimistic in regards to America… . The Geneva agreement has had no effect in decreasing sanctions, and they have accepted America’s violation of the agreement and continued to trust them with no benefit. Naturally the Geneva agreement is hasty and useless.”
- Parliamentary Executive Board Spokesman Abdolreza Mesri rejected recent criticisms of public polling regarding the nuclear accord and said, “The backbone of our system are these taxi drivers, beet sellers and the population who have never accepted anything contrary to the country’s expediency.”
- Head of the IRGC’s Cooperative Foundation (bonyad-e ta’avon) Parviz Fattah spoke at an event honoring engineering martyrs of Mazandaran province, during which he commented on negotiations:
- “These days, the negotiators are the representatives of hundreds of thousands of martyrs, the Imam [Khomeini], the Leader [Khamenei], and the nation of Iran. We must not sell out our values. We must be careful.... The level of each martyr is higher than this nuclear energy, and honor is not for sale or purchase; therefore, mentioning the martyrs to the negotiators is necessary.”
- “Our border and our redline is the nation’s honor, and thus far, the negotiators have not crossed this red line, and this is because the Supreme Leader is vigilant.”
- “The Supreme Leader said, ‘I am not optimistic,’ and this shows that the Supreme Leader is seeing the big picture.”
- Referring to the Supreme Leader’s statement, “I am not a diplomat, I am a revolutionary,” Fattah said, “When we have such a Leader, we do not have any worries, and we must listen to [these] words.”
- Iraqi MP Majd Qemas visited Tehran and praised the regional stability provided by the Geneva agreement: “This agreement not only had very positive influences on Iran, but will also lead to the development of peace and the creation of understanding between regional countries. The governments of the Middle East are trying to find an agreement to solve the present differences. Most of these differences have been created by the effects of foreign intervention. In any case, this file of differences must be closed. Ending these differences is to the benefit of the whole region.”
- The European Union delegation visiting Iran met with formerly jailed activists Nasrin Satoudeh and Jafar Penahi in the Greek embassy. Chairman of the Panel for Relations with the European Parliament Kazem Jalali said that there had originally been no plans to do so, but that the Greek Ambassador invited the delegation to a party, where “the named individuals were also found to be present.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denied her ministry’s responsibility for the meeting, saying it “was only responsible for the necessary coordination” to bring the delegation to Iran.
- Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei announced, “The Islamic Republic is hopeful about the implementation of the S-300 agreement with Russia and receiving these defense systems.”
- A source in Yemen announced the death of Iranian diplomat Nour Ahmad Nikbakht, who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda forces in July. The announcement has yet to be confirmed by Iranian or Yemeni officials.
- Saudi Arabia has reportedly expressed concern about relations between Qatar and Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) after LH Deputy Secretary Sheikh Naim Qassem met with Qatari Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Bin Hamd al-Mari earlier.
- A car bomb explosion in eastern Lebanon, near western Balbek, wounded two Lebanese Hezbollah members.
Military and Security
- IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami addressed the First Hormozgan Telecommunications and Radiomen Warriors Memorial and discussed recent negotiations:
- “In the current situation, no symbol or smell of the effects of sanctions are observed on the trend of the country’s transformation and expansion.”
- “The enemy knows well that if the Iranian nation enters the path of diplomacy and dialogue, it has power behind itself with the capability of standing against all Arrogant [Western] powers with the goal of guarding its achievements and ideals.”
- “They have surrendered to the Iranian nation since they know that if they threaten Iran, in the end an arrow will strike their policies and we will be forever rid of them.”
- “Those who have closed off global connections to us do not have an appropriate economic situation. Poverty, homelessness and sleeping in the streets is a phenomenon in modern America’s inner cities.”
- Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi announced, “[IRGC] Khatam ol-Anbia [Construction Base] has no contract for the Tehran-North freeway project. From the beginning, the Oppressed Foundation has been active in this field, whose agreement was cancelled given the criticism of the Speaker of Parliament. The Oppressed Foundation is active based on the cancelled accord in two or three components of this project.” He added that 120 trillion tomans [approximately $48.3 billion] of credit is needed to finish ongoing national projects, while the entire allocated credit in this year’s budget is 5.6 trillion tomans [approximately $2.3 billion].
- This past weekend, IRGC Khatam ol-Anbia Commander Brig. Gen 2nd Class Ebadollah Abdollahi said that his base had a contract for this project, stating, “The IRGC has a contract for this project. The implementation of this project, considering its scale ... depends on the resolution of financial issues. If the finances are secured, based on the contract, it will be a four year project, but the plan is with the Ministry of Roads
- Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi will unveil his upcoming book, “Revealed Secrets of the Zionist Regime” tomorrow at the Tehran International Books Festival. The book is about “the crimes and betrayals of the Zionist regime from time of its formation until now.”
- Mohammad Amin Akrami and Mehdi Rishahri Tangestani were reportedly arrested by IRGC Intelligence for their Facebook activity. IRGC intelligence has made several arrests of cyber and internet activists recently.
- International Affairs Advisor to the Supreme Leader and Chairman of the CSR Ali Akbar Velayati spoke about the Geneva agreement, criticizing American action, but saying that “the conditions are certainly provided” for a final agreement.
- “Without a doubt, if the other side, including the Americans, act contrary to the Geneva agreement, they expose themselves in the international spotlight because it was decided that new sanctions should not be administered.”
- “This is an America that has greater needs in the nuclear issue than Iran because, with its position to use peaceful nuclear energy in the framework of the international and NPT resolution, nothing will become a barrier to Iran because it is not doing anything illegal.”
- “Most countries of the world, as well as a majority of the P5+1, emphasize this point. At the beginning, the Americans themselves expressed a desire. In order to satisfy the Zionists and some regional reactionaries, after executing negotiations and an agreement, they spoke contrarily and the world saw this. Because Iran is using nuclear energy peacefully, it needs permission from no one.”
- Presidential Planning Deputy Mohammad Bagher Nobakht spoke to the importance of the nuclear deal and said that Iran’s current power cannot be compared to its past capabilities: “The world has come to realize that the nuclear rights of our country must be officially recognized.”
- “The agreement was so important that after it was signed, the Zionist regime announced that it was the biggest mistake of the century.”
- “The Geneva nuclear agreement will be implemented next month, and the important thing is the contents of this agreement. If the national rights of Iran are not ensured, the Supreme Leader will oppose it. He considers the nuclear negotiators trustees of the system, and no one has the right to move ahead of the Supreme Leader’s commands and oppose them.”
- Senior Nuclear Negotiator Abbas Eraghchi met with EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton this morning in Brussels, and spoke afterwards, saying “It is decided that experts negotiations will begin soon.” After Eraghchi criticized his counterparts, Ashton pledged the P5+1 would implement its side of the agreement. Eraghchi said, “In the meeting with Ashton, in addition to the criticism of unconstructive Western stances, especially those of Western officials, we emphasized that if negotiations are to continue, greed and inflammatory actions must be avoided.”
- “Ms. Ashton also endorsed the need to avoid actions that create misunderstanding and gave her confidence that six countries, especially the American side, will likewise act on and accept what is necessary in the agreement and adhere to the principles of the text of the agreement.”
- “Ms. Ashton assured us that all of the members of the group, especially America, are engaged in their responsibilities. On this basis, it was decided to continue negotiations.”
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the US decision to issue additional sanctions, but said “Despite the American actions in placing Iranian and foreign companies on a blacklist, Tehran will continue negotiations.”
- Zarif called the US Treasury’s actions “a big setback” and said “This shows a shortcoming in understanding over the direction of action to solve the nuclear discussion. Some individuals have taken the position that pressure has results. They err because pressure has been the cause of the production of 18,000 centrifuges in Iran.”
- “I believe that we must put these failed policies and approaches to the side and adopt new policies. That is why these types of actions move this current process off of its path. However, I believe that there is the political will on all sides to continue this process. Iran will show its reaction to any action that is not acceptable or unconstructive in solving the problem.”
- “If Congress places new sanctions and the American administration implements them, this action would be against the Geneva agreement and mean that the agreement has not taken shape due to this violation of it.”
- “I think that this action by the US Treasury Department was not beneficial, yet that does not mean it was a violation of the agreement. This action puts their intent to solve issues by way of negotiations under question, which is itself a big step backwards. However, this does not also mean that they want to destroy the whole process.”
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham issued a warning saying that not issuing new sanctions was the “most key discussion” for the success of a deal, and added that, “We have announced previously that any type of new sanctions means the death of the joint program. We hope that the other side is diligent in preserving the joint action plan and seeks goodwill and a constructive spirit in the joint action plan.”
- Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hojjat al-Eslam Hassan Abu Torabi Fard addressed the 32nd National IRGC Qur’an Competition and said, “The West and America have understood well that the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear matter to negotiate and attain an agreement whose content is accepted by the Islamic Republic.” He then criticized implementation of new sanctions by the United States and said, “These sideline measures by America are in reality influenced by the radical Zionist lobby because today the global community and even Western public opinion seeks a quick resolution of the Iranian nuclear matter. I advise the West to use the created opportunity, because working solely within the framework of the NPT is not a difficult work for the Islamic Republic with attention to the existing power and capacities in the Islamic system. If the West does not use this opportunity, Iran will only discuss with them within the framework of the NPT. Therefore they should give more attention to this emerging opportunity.”
- Head of the Planning and Budget Parliamentary Commission MP Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam dismissed recent administration announcements of an empty treasure and said, “Such statements, especially in the circumstance of negotiations, are not in the country’s expediency” and that “We [Parliament] do not take such statements seriously.” Mesbahi Moghaddam claimed, “The Central Bank has more than $100 billion and the National Expansion Fund has more than $34 billion in currency reserves. So, much of the country’s resources are in foreign banks, and therefore the situation of the country’s treasury is satisfactory…”
- A consortium of the National Iran Oil Company, Amir Kabir Industrial University, Iran Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and Innovations Company has taken lead of three oil projects in “the arena of oil and gas refineries.” Amir Kabir University Communication with Industry Desk Director Ahmad Afshar stated, “In the case of institutionalizing the relation of industry and university in the country, an innovative force will be active in the country and will ultimately cause the creation of a special place to record invention and intellectual property.”
- Industries and Mining Parliamentary Commission member MP Hamid Reza Fouladgar announced the existence of 40 billion tons of proven mining reserves and another projected 20 billion tons. Fouladgar, however, lamented the lack of work in “in the field of exploring and extracting Iran’s mines.”
- Iran Supreme Management Associations Club Secretary Mohammad Ataradian announced that the government owes contractors 30 trillion tomans [approximately $12 billion] and expressed hope for improvement in this regard.
Photo of the Day
- Tasnim photo essay of Syrian refugee children in Iraq.