Iran News Round Up

<p>Iran accused Saudi Arabia of supporting the participation of terrorist groups in the upcoming Syrian peace talks.</p>
The Guardian Council announced that it has approved 166 of 794 candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections.
<p>Iran and China signed a joint statement on developing their &ldquo;comprehensive strategic partnership,&rdquo; which includes improving defense and space cooperation as well as economic activities.</p>
<p>President Hassan Rouhani criticized the recent mass disqualification of parliamentary candidates during a televised speech, stating, &ldquo;If one faction is represented in the elections and another is not, then why are we holding elections?&rdquo;</p>
<p>Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Guardian Council&rsquo;s disqualification of candidates and condemned the January 12 storming of the Saudi embassy.</p>
<p>The IAEA confirmed that Iran had fulfilled its initial commitments under the JCPOA on January 16, paving the way for international sanctions against Iran to be lifted.</p>
<p>The IRGC continued to portray the detainment of ten U.S. Navy sailors as a military victory by claiming that U.S. officials pleaded with Iran to release them.</p>
Iran confirmed that it has removed the core of its Arak heavy water reactor and filled it with cement, signaling imminent implementation of the P5+1 nuclear deal.
<p>Iran released two U.S. Navy vessels and 10 sailors on January 13, following their overnight detention after a purported mechanical error caused the vessels to drift into Iranian territorial waters on January 12.</p>
Senior AEOI officials denied a January 11 report that Iran has finalized the dismantling of the Arak heavy water reactor core, but reiterated that the reconfiguration of the reactor- as required by the nuclear deal - is underway.