Iran News Round Up December 9, 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 contributors John Lesnewich and Mehrdad Moarefian. 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.

Politics

  • President Hassan Rouhani met with Bushehr MPs and expressed his hopes for the province to remain an important energy supplier, particularly through its nuclear reactor, while saying that “Reality, especially in Iran’s capabilities, has been imposed on the world. You see that the world powers, who have dreamed in their minds of destroying Iran’s ability to enrich, have now recognized that they do not have the ability to prevent the advance of this industry and enrichment in Iran due to the domestication and spread of this industry.”
  • Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli claimed that the ministry is “In the process of proposing new divisions of the country” that will likely “change each four to five provinces into a region.” Fazli said that the goal of the change is so that “cooperation and interaction between provincial governors of these regions covers up all of the weaknesses of the provinces of that region.” 
  • Member of the National Security and Foreign Policy N(NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Hojjat al-Eslam Vahid Ahmadi insisted on Iran’s right to enrich, claiming that “it is not a right that Obama can officially recognize” because “any [country] that accepts the NPT can use its knowledge for peaceful enrichment.” Vahidi continued, “In the recent agreement, Iran gave IAEA inspectors permission to visit the Arak heavy water reactor. Under these conditions, the ball is in the P5+1’s court, and especially America’s.”
  • NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman Mansour Haghighat Pour criticized Arab nations’ requests to be involved in the P5+1 negotiations: “It is very audacious of the Arab countries to demand to participate in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 and change it to the P5+2 because none of them carry any weight.”
    • In response to the security concerns of some Arab countries, including Qatar and Egypt, Haghighat Pour responded, “This is an inappropriate claim. Of course it is recognized that the Arab countries’ security is connected to Iran’s security.” 
  • NSFP Parliamentary Commission Member Mohammad Saleh Jokar criticized President Obama’s statements and behavior, calling them “inconsistent with the spirit of the Geneva negotiations. Jokar said that “Although the Geneva negotiations created a real opportunity, the duplicitous behavior by America entails a potential threat [to them.]”
  • Principlist MPs claimed that “Face to face meetings between two people and several people have begun in order to create unity within this current.” They added, “After we achieve an internal consensus, in the second phase we will also have meetings with other Principlist sections.” 
  • Tehran MP and Steadfastness Front member Ali Asqar Zaraei said that “The government has taken an ambiguous position on ending the imprisonment of leaders of the sedition because it does not want to take a stance.” Zaraei accused the administration of similar tactics in the university as well: “Rouhani said that the college campuses must be calm in order to solve the economic problems of the country. Unfortunately, however, with the engagement of some problematic individuals who bring forth a lack of calmness on university campuses, the president has made a contradictory decision.”

 

Diplomacy

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif held an interview with an English-language al-Jazeera network in which he talked about Iran’s relations with the region, particularly with Saudi Arabia and Syria:
    • “We believe that relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are important. In Iran’s view, relations with its neighbors are the greatest priority in our foreign policy. I decided immediately after Geneva to travel back to regional countries in order to report on the achievements of Geneva to our neighbors. I explained the reality that the work that we did in Geneva is able to help the region and is not against any of our neighbors. This decision was made very late. We now are preparing plans for some other travels that I must undertake in the region in order to finish the regional tour… I hope that at a logical time I can visit Saudi Arabia.”
    • Asked about Shi’a Iran being a destabilizing factor in the Sunni Persian Gulf and existing distrust: “We have a foreign policy that relies on strategy in this part of the world. We believe that all of us must cooperate in order stop the spread of sectarianism in the region. We believe that sectarianism is dangerous for the whole region. Iran has absolutely no desire to spread sectarianism. “
    • The interviewer then challenged Zarif, saying that Iran supports Hezbollah and sought to weaken Iraqi Sunni elements: “Did you say that we have protected Sunni Hamas? Did you say that we have stood to preserve unity with Iraq? Our relations with all groups in Iraq, Kurds – who are majority Sunni – and Sunnis, are excellent. Iran protects regional stability…. Defining Iran’s policy as sectarian is incorrect and dangerous.”
    • Asked about Syria and the different regional players: “I think that we all want to try to bring an end to the violence, and come upon a political solution to this tragedy which is a source of embarrassment for both Sunnis and Shi’a. This crisis is a source of shame in the region. We must cooperate. Creating sectarian divides will not be a tactic that solves this crisis. Efforts in the direction of achieving a military solution, whether domestically or by calling foreigners to intervene militarily in Syria, will not solve this issue. In reality, the Syrian tragedy does not have a military solution.” 
  • [E] Afghani President Hamid Karzai arrived in Tehran on Sunday to meet with President Rouhani to pursue a cooperation deal. The two sides reportedly agreed on a long-term cooperation treaty. During the meeting Rouhani expressed the Islamic Republic’s opposition to the presence of foreign military personnel in the region, “We are concerned about the tensions created as a result of the presence of foreign powers in the region and believe all foreign powers should leave the region.”  
  • Non-Resident Chargé d’Affaires to England Mohammad Hassan Habibollah Zadeh discussed last week’s meeting with British diplomat Ajay Sharma in Tehran and his own upcoming visit to London. “One of the primary goals for the London visit is to review the status of consular services for Iranians in England… If talks go well, beginning June this year, consular services can be provided in London.” 
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour during the 40th ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to discuss regional developments of mutual concern. 

 

Military and Security

  • IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami claimed that “Resistance from the great nation of Iran was able to change Dominant System and Arrogant Powers’ [the West’s] strategic policies in the field of nuclear diplomacy.” Salami said that the Iran-Iraq War “was able to be a fundamental model of Resistance against the great powers.”
    • Salami also said the sanctions were ineffective: “Sanctions were the cause of different research and technologies relying on domestic knowledge, which created their growth and development.” 
  • According to Ghanoon Online, eyewitnesses claimed that Basij members posed as students during a student gathering at Tehran Polytechnic University on National Students Day on December 7th “intending to undermine the gathering.” The Basijis led chants of “Allahu Akbar” [God is great], and “Down with America.” The resident students’ chants included “Political prisoners must be freed.” A student who attended the rally said that “At 11 o’clock, non-student individuals were dispatched to the university by bus. Extremist members of the Basij from Amir Kabir University arrived by the hundreds and led chants saying that political prisoners must be executed and that Rouhani must let go of student life.”
  • IRGC Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base Commander Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Ebadollah Abdollahi announced his organization’s willingness to cooperate with the new government: “During Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government, we had more projects. However, these projects could not be completed by others and so were entrusted to us. Of course this cooperation does not mean that because the tenth administration ended and Mr. Rouhani has taken leadership that our work has lessened or become problematic… . I have announced that this base is prepared to place all of its abilities in the hands of the eleventh administration.” 
  • Khadija Mohammadi, the mother of deceased commander Mohammad Boroujerdi, who died during the Iran-Iraq War commanding IRGC forces in the Kurdistan region, passed away at the age of 83 in the hospital after suffering a stroke. 
  • IRGC Public Relations Deputy Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Ramazan Sharif sharply criticized America, mentioning its atomic bombing of Japan and citing the 1988 downing of Iran Air Flight 655 as an example of a “crime that shows America’s nature and that we will not forget.”
    • “Another important point is the American conduct afterwards. They fled from accepting their own responsibility for this crime and created excuses.”
    • “Given these conditions, it is easy for public thought to understand that the Americans wanted to say that they would do anything to achieve their interests in undertaking this particular act of bullying.” 

 

Nuclear Issue

  • Experts negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 have begun in Vienna to discuss strategies and mechanisms to implement the Geneva agreement. The Iranian team is being led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political Manager Hamid Baeidi Nezhad. The Iranian delegation also includes experts in sanctions, the central bank, and atomic energy. Senior Nuclear negotiator and Deputy FM Abbas Eraghchi noted that “On Wednesday, Iran will also have negotiations in Vienna with the International Atomic Energy Association.” 
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Policy Manager and member of Iran’s nuclear negotiations team Hamid Baeidi Nezhad gave an interview about his experiences throughout the negotiations process, emphasizing the importance of enrichment to the talks:
    • “The issue of enrichment was the most problematic piece of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. “
    • “The issue of enrichment was the foundation of the [UN] Security Council resolution. Based on this, it said that Iran must stop its enrichment program without any delay, whereas in this agreement, enrichment has been accepted in the short and long term. So, in this concept the foundation of the Security Council resolution has been altered.”
    • Baeidi Nezhad said that the P5+1 has agreed to the Iranian right to enrich: “We negotiated for hours over these words. However, if we want to compare the priorities of the political stances of the two sides, it is natural that the issue of enrichment has been the most important discussion for us.  In any case, all of the Security Council resolutions and ten years of sanctions have been due to enrichment. If they do not accept enrichment, the agreement does not take shape. That is why this subject is so important for us.”
    • “After the successful implementation of the final steps in the framework of the Geneva agreement, Iran’s nuclear program will be treated as the nuclear program of the signatories of the NPT. When the final solution in the framework of the long term program is implemented, Iran’s nuclear program will became normal, and there will no longer be any worries on the agenda of the Security Council or foreign governments.” 

 

Economy

  • President Hassan Rouhani presented his 2013-2014 annual budget to Parliament, which included 50% increase in funds for the Artesh, 60% increase for the Foreign Ministry, 45% increase for the Guardian Council, and 25% increase for the IRGC, while decreasing the Basij’s budget. Overall, thirteen executive organs related to security and diplomacy saw an average of 30% increase while Rouhani seeks to implemented broader austerity measures.

 

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