Iran News Round Up - September 8, 2016

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 contributor 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: The IAEA issued a confidential report confirming Iran’s compliance thus far with its obligations under the nuclear deal.

The IAEA, however, acknowledged that Iran has started manufacturing rotor tubes, a critical component of centrifuges. Tehran is only able to use spare parts from older machines for its centrifuges currently producing fuel-grade uranium, according to the nuclear deal. The accord does permit Iran to build rotor tubes in specific circumstances. Iranian news agencies circulated Western coverage of the report, but Iranian officials have not yet reacted publicly.

IRGC Air Force Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh denounced Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for his recent remarks attributing Germany and Japan’s economic success to their lack of a military after World War II. Hajizadeh stated, “When these people compare Iran with the defeated nations of Germany and Japan, which were not allowed to have an army, and say that if we did not have an army, our situation would be great, I wonder if they really understand what they are saying.” Hardliners also criticized Rafsanjani when a Twitter account bearing his name tweeted in March, “The world of tomorrow is a world of negotiations, not missiles.”

Iranian news outlets reported the burial of eight members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade and Pakistan Shia militia Zainabiyoun Brigade in Iran. All eight were killed in Syria.

AEI Must-Reads

  • J. Matthew McInnis explains what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent speech declaring Iran’s “inalienable right” to “offensive and defensive capabilities” could mean for Iran’s future military developments in his latest blog post, “Ayatollah Khamenei takes Iran on the offensive.”
     

Military & Security

  • IRGC Air Force Commander dismisses Rafsanjani’s comments on Iran’s military power. IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh criticized 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.” Hajizadeh stated, “When these people compare Iran with the defeated nations of Germany and Japan, which were not allowed to have an army, and say that if we did not have an army, our situation would be great, I wonder if they really understand what they are saying.” (Fars News Agency)
    • Ayatollah Mostafa Mousavi Esfahani, the Supreme Leader’s representative to Hamedan province, similarly criticized Rafsanjani’s comments. He stated, “If we were to reduce our military power, our security would be destroyed, and the poor and the children would no longer have security.” (Fars News Agency
       
  • Defense minister echoes Khamenei’s questioning of Saudi Hajj management. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call to reconsider Saudi Arabia’s management of the Hajj pilgrimage. He stated that Saudi Arabia “has no friendship with Islam and Islamic teachings and has always mobilized with the Global Arrogance [the West] and international Zionism for the genocide of Islam… The wretched rulers [of Saudi Arabia] now support the hegemonic and imperialistic countries and ISIS groups.” (Tasnim News Agency)    
     
  • IRGC 25th Karbala Division begins exercises in northern Iran. The IRGC kicked off the “Followers of the Guardianship” exercises in Iran’s “northern border region.” Armored and combat support battalions from the 25th Karbala Division, which is based in Mazandaran province, are participating in the exercises. (ISNA

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Iran launches Interpol complaint against Saudi Arabia. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari announced that Iran has filed a complaint against Saudi Arabia with Interpol over the 2015 Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. An estimated 2,400 pilgrims, including over 450 Iranians, died in the stampede. Ashtari noted that the LEF will “follow up on the issue” with Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization and Foreign Ministry. Over the past week senior Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have escalated their criticism of Saudi Arabia’s management of the Hajj in the leadup to the 2016 pilgrimage, which will begin on September 9. Khamenei stated on September 7 that Saudi Arabia should allow a “fact-finding team” to conduct an investigation if it “is confident about its claims of guiltlessness in the Mina tragedy.” (Tasnim News Agency(E)
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Ghashghavi stated that Iran “will not have an ambassador or diplomat in Saudi Arabia until our requests are fulfilled and the Mina tragedy is litigated.” He also condemned the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016 but called it an “excuse” for Saudi Arabia to sever relations with Iran. (Asr Iran)

Economy

  • Hardliners continue FATF criticism. Hardliners criticized the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by warning that the implementation of the FATF regulations would reduce Iran’s sovereignty. The FATF recently suspended some of its restrictions against Iran for a year to gauge Iran’s implementation of an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing action plan.
    • Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei warned that the FATF “will further ensnare our country.” He stated, “In addition to the subjects proposed by the FATF, no guarantee exists that they will not introduce new obstacles afterwards.” (Alef)
    • Hossein Shariatmadari, the managing editor of leading conservative newspaper Kayhan, claimed that implementing the FATF regulations would make Iran more vulnerable to ISIS. He explained, “If you implement the FATF, you are emptying yourself of sovereignty. When you are emptied of sovereignty, you are become an easy bite to swallow.” (Mehr News Agency)
    • Hojjat ol Eslam Ahmad Alam ol Hoda, the Friday prayer leader in Mashhad and the Supreme Leader’s representative in Razavi Khorasan province, claimed, “Even individuals tied to foreign countries are saying that if [former Prime Minister Mohammad] Mossadegh were alive today, he would look at these agreements and languish over them.” Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh attempted to nationalize Iran’s oil production before he was overthrown in a coup in 1953. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Conservative politician Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission, called the FATF an “international agreement” that must reviewed by Parliament and stated, “They are pursuing the work that they [the U.S. and its allies] carried out with sanctions with the new excuse of fighting money laundering.” (Mehr News Agency)
    • Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari compared the domestic opposition to the FATF to opposition over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He dismissed the opposition to both as “more political” than substantive. (Tabnak)

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • Eight Afghan and Pakistani fighters buried in Iran.
    • Iranian news outlets reported that three Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun fighters killed in Syria were buried in Mashhad. (ABNA)
    • Iranian news outlets also reported that three Fatimiyoun fighters and two Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun fighters killed in Syria were buried in the city of Qom. (Basirat)