Iran News Round Up October 13, 2015

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: Parliament approved a resolution implementing the nuclear deal on October 13 despite conservative attempts to delay the review process.

Parliament officially approved the resolution entitled “The Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” which authorizes the government to fulfill its commitments under the nuclear deal. Several conservative parliamentarians protested the resolution, claiming that the process had been “rushed.” The Guardian Council is scheduled to begin review of the resolution on October 14.

Iran tested the Emad, a new, domestically-produced, long-range ballistic missile, on October 11. An anonymous U.S. official claimed that the test “likely” violated UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which bans Iran from engaging in ballistic missile activity.  

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that Russia had “consulted” with Iran before Russian forces targeted “terrorist positions” in Syria. Meanwhile, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei acknowledged that there had been meetings between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia on “combating ISIS.”

Two senior IRGC veterans were killed in Syria on October 12. Farshad Hassounizadeh was the former commander of a Saberin Brigade, a special operations unit connected with an IRGC Ground Forces provincial unit. Hamid Mokhtarband was the former head of the IRGC 1st Hazrat-e Hojjat Brigade Office in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province.

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis discusses the Iranian parliament’s recent vote to approve the JCPOA, and examines the ramifications of the vote for President Hassan Rouhani’s broader political agenda, in his most recent blog post, “Rouhani’s struggle is just beginning.”

Matthew McInnis also analyzes the strategic and operational calculations behind Iran’s cooperation with Russia in Syria and examines ways this new alliance may go awry in his blog post, “Iran’s risker game in Syria.”

Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Parliament approves resolution on the JCPOA’s implementation. Parliament officially approved the resolution entitled “Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action for the Implementation of the JCPOA” on October 13 with 161 votes in favor, 59 votes opposed, and 13 abstentions. The Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action permits the government to implement the JCPOA within certain restrictions. Iranian lawmakers added four proposals that included four “minor changes” to the original text of the “Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action for the Implementation of the JCPOA” that Parliament began reviewing on October 4.
    • National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Committee member Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani stated that the Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action will now go to the Guardian Council for review.
    • Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour told reporters that although debate on the Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action was tense and included threats, “harmony among representatives has improved.” The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman added, “I recognize the dear friends who oppose [the Plan of Action] as revolutionary people. They have worries. But now the Plan of Action for the JCPOA has been approved, and from now on, we must have necessary vigilance. We must detect any path for influence in the country and block it.” (ICANA) (ISNA
    • Parliament approved outlines of JCPOA resolution on October 11. Parliament accepted the “outline” of the Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action on October 11. The resolution was approved with 139 parliamentarians in favor, 100 opposed, and 12 abstentions after a tense debate. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that both he and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif received death threats during the debate including one from a parliamentarian who threatened to bury them in the cement of the Arak heavy water reactor. (Fars News Agency)
       
  • The Supreme Leader urges vigilance against foreign influence. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on October 12 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader warned of U.S.-led plots to influence the Iranian nation through soft war tactics, specifically in the media sphere. Khamenei urged officials to remain vigilant, warning: “In soft war, the same battle objectives are pursued, but in a broader and deeper manner.” Khamenei also stated:
    • “Unlike hard battle, soft war is not apparent, understandable, and tangible, and even in some cases, the opposite side strikes… but its target, the society is lethargic and does not feel the attack.”
    • “Hard battles usually provoke people’s feelings and create national unity and cohesion, while the soft war destroys the incentive for confrontation and paves the way for [creating societal] differences…”
    • “Our people have ideological beliefs about religion, family, the issue of ‘women and men,’ independence against foreigners, Islamic democracy, and cultural issues, and the opposite side is making efforts to tamper with or change these beliefs.”
    • “The main and ultimate objective of the designed soft war is internal dissolution and transmutation of the Islamic Republic by changing beliefs and weakening the faith of people, especially the youth.” (Khamenei.ir) (MFA) (E
       
  • Guardian Council set to begin review of JCPOA implementation resolution on October 14. Guardian Council Spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian said that the resolution’s review is on the Guardian Council’s agenda for October 14, although its review can extend into October 15 as well. (IRIB)
     
  • President Rouhani: Parliament’s approval of the resolution is a historic decision. President Hassan Rouhani welcomed Parliament’s vote on October 11 to approve the outline of the resolution granting conditional approval to implement the JCPOA. Rouhani thanked Iranian lawmakers for accepting the resolution “according to the wish of the nation.” Rouhani added that the vote will lead to greater “solidarity” among the people regarding the nuclear issue. (President.ir)  http://president.ir/fa/89927
     
  • Salehi: JCPOA will be implemented in the next two months. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi stated that Iran will implement its commitments under the JCPOA “within one or two months.” Salehi also thanked Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Larijani for his role in facilitating Parliament’s approval of the JCPOA.  Salehi stated, “The time that Larijani has been Parliament Speaker, whether in the former administration when we negotiated secretly with America…or whether in the eleventh administration when the negotiations accelerated, Larijani has been an active supporter.” Salehi also thanked parliamentarians for not “blemishing the national interest” during the review of the JCPOA. (Mashregh News)  
     
  • Mehdi Kouchak Zadeh: Larijani, Shamkhani, and Hejazi decided that the voting process would be expedited. Conservative parliamentarian Mehdi Kouchak Zadeh claimed that Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani, and the head of the Office of the Supreme Leader's Intelligence and Security directorate Asghar Mir Hejazi met on October 12 and decided not to allow “suggestions about the details of the resolution” to be raised in Parliament. Mehdi Kouckak Zadeh claimed that this resolution is not “the resolution of Parliament; rather it is the resolution of Larijani, Shamkhani, and Hejazi.” He added, “The opinions of these three individuals are not the opinions of the Supreme Leader.” (Raja News) (Asiran)
     
  • Boroujerdi: Two parliamentary factions coordinated with Shamkhani before the JCPOA resolution vote. National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi described a meeting between two major Parliamentary factions – the Principlists and the Rahrovan-e Velayat (Followers of the Leader) – and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani on the night before the October 13 vote that approved the JCPOA implementation resolution. Boroujerdi added that Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani was present at the meeting. Boroujerdi said that the meetings’ participants had common concerns about the JCPOA’s implementation and agreed to limit their proposals to change the text of the resolution. (ISNA
    • Naghavi Hosseini: We have over 200 proposals for the JCPOA resolution.  Parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini stated on October 12 that parliamentarians had submitted over 200 proposals for the resolution granting “conditional approval” for the nuclear deal.  The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA Spokesman expressed his hope that Parliament would review the proposals on October 13. (Fars News Agency
       
  • Seventeen parliamentarians call for Parliament to halt review of the JCPOA. Seventeen conservative parliamentarians released a statement on October 10 to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani requesting that Parliament halt proceedings on the JPCOA implementation resolution. The statement claims that Parliament’s Board of Directors had violated the legislative process by “rushing” the review of the resolution. (Asiran
     
  • Jason Rezaian convicted on espionage charges. Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat al Eslam Mohseni Ejei announced on October 11 that detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian has been convicted on espionage charges. No further details were provided. (Tabnak
     
  • MOIS Head: Iranians have faith in their nuclear negotiators. Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi praised Iran’s nuclear negotiators on October 12. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Head stated that the MOIS carried out a survey that revealed “86 percent of the people are supporters of the government and the nuclear negotiators.” Alavi also warned that Iran’s enemies “tried to cripple Iran’s economy with plots regarding our country’s oil exports” but added that Iran “enjoys the highest level of security.” (Rasa News)
     

Reactions to IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani’s death in Syria

  • IRGC Commander: “We will witness great victories in Syria in the coming days.” IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke at IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani’s funeral procession on October 12 in Hamedan. The IRGC Commander hailed Hamedani as a martyr of the Resistance in Syria and stated, “We will witness great victories in Syria in the coming days.” Jafari also reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to resistance against the West and warned Saudi officials about the “revolutionary fury of Muslim nations…” (Sepah News
     
  • Safavi praises Hamedani’s role in the Axis of Resistance. IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi praised IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani’s record as a soldier in the Iran-Iraq War and as an “advisor” in Syria during remarks on October 10. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor called blamed “American, English, and Zionist intelligence agencies” for the emergence of both proxy wars and terrorist groups “in order to destabilize and disintegrate Islamic countries.” (Mehr News)
     
  • Rezaei: Hamedani went to Syria so that our nation could live in peace today. Mohsen Rezaei delivered a speech during IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani’s funeral procession on October 19. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary stated “General Hamedani was a brave commander of the Islamic fronts, who was the flag bearer of the dignity of Islam and Muslims…” Rezaei claimed that Hamedani formed the “Hazrat-e Zeinab” and “Hazrat-e Roghieh” bases in Syria “by organizing 40 thousand Syrians.” The Former IRGC Commander added that Hamedani “conducted 80 operations” against “takfiris” (terrorists) in Syria “using…and organizing” Syrian young people. He also stated, “Some should not say, ‘why are they [Iranians] fighting takfiris in Syria?’ Because, if we did not do this, Iran’s security would have been destroyed. Therefore, Haj Hamedani went [to Syria] so that our nation could live in peace today…” (Defa Press

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Two IRGC veterans killed in Syria. Farshad Hassounizadeh was a former commander of an IRGC Saberin brigade; each of the provincial units in the IRGC Ground Forces has a special operations Saberin unit. Hamid Mokhtarband was the former head of the IRGC 1st Hazrat-e Hojjat Brigade Office in Ahvaz, Khouzestan province. It is unclear what rank Hassounizadeh and Mokhtarband had held. (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Rezaei: There have been meetings between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia on fighting ISIS. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei discussed the “coalition” between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia during a press conference on October 10. Mohsen Rezaei stated, “This coalition is only for combating ISIS but there have also been meetings between these four countries.” (Ghatreh)   
     
  • Larijani: Russia consulted with us before attacking targets in Syria. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told reporters that Russia had “consulted” with Iran before Russian forces attacked “terrorist positions” in Syria. (ICANA)
     
  • Lebanese Hezbollah commander killed in Syria. Ahl al Bayt News Agency announced on October 13 the death of Lebanese Hezbollah Commander Mehdi Hassan Obeid in Syria. The report stated that Obeid was killed “in a battle with takfiri terrorists in Hama province.” His funeral will be held in Lebanon “in the coming days.” (ABNA
     
  • Abdollahian meets with Mogherini. Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs travelled to Brussels to consult with EU officials on the crisis in Syria. (Alef

 

Military and Security

  • Iran tests new ballistic missile. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan announced the successful test of the “Emad,” a new, domestically-produced, long-range ballistic missile. Dehghan indicated that it is “Iran’s first long-range missile with guidance and control systems which can hit targets and completely destroy them with high precision.” Dehghan stated, “We do not ask for permission from anybody to increase our defense might and missile capability and are decisively following up our defense plans, particularly in the missile sector.” (Press TV) (E) 
    • Araghchi: Ballistic missile test did not violate the JCPOA. While speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi stated on October 12 that the testing of the Emad missile did not violate the JCPOA. Araghchi stated, “Iran has always declared explicitly that it will not compromise its national security and defense capabilities.” (IRNA) (E) (Kayhan) (E
       
  • IRGC General: The West is pursuing a policy of “strategic patience.” IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Yadollah Javani warned of enemy activities after the JCPOA’s implementation on October 12. The Senior Political Advisor to the Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC claimed that the United States and the West are pursuing policies of “strategic patience” in order to gain influence in Iran. Javani added that while “preventing America’s influence by rejecting the JCPOA has not happened,” Iranians must nonetheless remain “cautious of weak points” in the agreement in order to prevent enemy influence. Javani also praised IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani and claimed that he “had an important role in Syria, such that his actions led to saving Damascus from collapse.” (Defa Press)
     
  • Iran begins mass production of “Valfajr” torpedo. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan and Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari inaugurated the production line for the “homegrown” Valfajr torpedo in a ceremony on October 13. Dehghan claimed that the Valfajr possesses a “longer range, more precision, and higher destructive power than the previous torpedoes” and added that one of its distinguishing features is its “short pre-launch preparation time.” (Tasnim News Agency(E) 
     

Economy

  • India pays second installment of $700 million to Iran. Indian refineries have paid $700 million to Iran as part of the second installment to settle unpaid oil dues. Indian refineries paid the first installment of $700 million in late September. (YJC)
     
  • Nobakht: Japan has a “special place” in Iran’s development. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht discussed economic opportunities in the post-sanctions era during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and a Japanese economic delegation on October 13. The Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President praised the history of Iran-Japan relations and stated that Japan has a “special place” in Iran’s future economic development. Nobakht also called for greater foreign investment in Iran “within the framework of the Resistance Economy.” (IRIB
     
  • Zanganeh: Iran and Japan discuss energy sector cooperation. Bijan Zanganeh expressed hope for cooperation on joint ventures in the petrochemical, refining, distribution, and LNG (liquid natural gas) sectors during talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. The Oil Minister warned that “the JCPOA must be implemented” before joint ventures are put to tender, while noting that direct investments by foreigners into Iranian firms would bypass this requirement. Zanganeh also stated that Japanese firms seeking to increase their operations in Iran must provide insurance coverage for their activities, adding that Japanese firms can “finance their desired projects [through] their insurance coverage.” (IRNA) (E)
     
  • Japan and Iran announce bilateral investment pact. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced an agreement to establish a council to facilitate cooperation on trade, the environment, and medical services. Japanese officials stated that they negotiated the pact to ensure the Japanese can compete with European and American companies for commercial opportunities in Iran. (Press TV) (E)
     
  • Iran plans to invest $25 billion in rail network. Mohsen Poursaeed Aqaei announced that Iran plans to attract $25 billion in investment to modernize and expand its rail network. The Managing Director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways explained that the investment will turn Iran into a regional transportation hub by building a railway corridor connecting the Persian Gulf and Subcontinent with Central and East Asia. (Press TV) (E