Iran news round up January 14, 2014

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by the AEI Critical Threats Project’s Iran research team.

(E) = Article in English

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors. 

Politics

  • President Hassan Rouhani travelled to Khuzestan as his first provincial visit and delivered a speech in Arabic, in which he praised the Khuzestani people. He then discussed the Geneva accord and his administration’s efforts to develop the province:
    • “We need migration from bad living conditions to desired conditions; migrationfrom inflation, stagnation, high prices and unemployment to occupation; migrationfrom a society where others have created divisions among us to a united society.”
    • “We need migration from relations with the world that are not worthy of the great Iranian nation to constructive relations with the world.”
    • “In the past five months, the administration has taken valuable steps in this regard with the support of you courageous people and the guidance of the Supreme Leader.”
    • “The Geneva accord means the great powers’ surrender to the great Iranian nation. The Geneva accord means the acceptance by the world of Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology that we achieved in the shadow of the efforts and self-sacrifice of young scientists. The Geneva accord means breaking the dam of sanctions that was unduly imposed on the dear and peace-loving Iranian nation.”
    • “We will defend the nation’s rights by relying on divine strength, preserve this country and national interests as soldiers of the front line, and adjust our relations with the world based on the nation’s interests.”
  • Senior administration officials accompanied President Rouhani to Khuzestan province, including Supreme National Security Council Secretary Maj. Gen. Ali Shamkhani, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.
  • Chief of Staff to the Supreme Leader Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani emphasized Shi’a-Sunni unity and said, “May a day come when the West extends its hands of need to the East,” claiming that Iran is more advanced than Great Britain in the field of nanotechnology.
  • Senior Adviser to the President Akbar Torkan announced, “If sanctions are lifted, then new reforms in next year’s budget will be executed with new circumstances. The country’s budget next year has been calculated based on current situations and sanctions. It is estimated that if sanctions are reduced or eliminated, that will create an Iranian oil production capacity of 4 million barrels per day.”
  • An article on ISNA reports an increase in internet filtering in the past few months despite earlier campaign promises of President Rouhani. It reads in part: “Currently, in addition to the people, officials complain about the method of filtering and refining websites. Perhaps reviewing policies related to filtering in the Supreme Virtual Space Council [SVSC] will create a different situation. Regardless, after the passing of one year since the activity of the SVSC, it has not been officially announced whether policy-making decisions related to filtering is on the shoulders of the council. Will the Committee for the Determination of Cyber Criminal Instances continue its past activities like before?”

Diplomacy and Regional Developments

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Iraqi counterpart Houshiar Zibari held a joint press conference in Baghdad. Zibari announced Iraq’s support for Iran’s role in Syria, hoped Iran would be invited to Geneva II, and claimed Iraq was one of the first supporters of the nuclear deal. Zarif said, “Iraq is a victim of extremism and terrorism. We will be beside Iraq in order to oppose terrorism. We hope that by achieving unity in Iraq, we will confront terrorism in the region.” The foreign ministers announced that Zibari would travel to Tehran within two to three weeks.
    • Zarif acknowledged that “There is pressure by some currents to keep Iran from being present at the Geneva II conference,” but added, “If we are invited to Geneva II without preconditions, we will participate in it.”
    • While in Baghdad, Zarif also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujaifi.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Zarif then traveled to Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah, Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh, and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
  • Zarif also reportedly met with Syrian President Bashar Assad yesterday in Damascus.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi entered Cuba during his tour of Latin America to meet with Cuba’s Deputy Trade Minister and foreign investors to speak about bilateral economic and trade relations. Ravanchi’s next stop is Caracas, Venezuela.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian traveled to Kuwait to participate in the second International Humanitarian Aid for the Syrian People Conference, which will be held tomorrow. Abdollahian will reportedly be meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, and other foreign officials on the sidelines of the conference.
    • On Thursday, Abdollahian is scheduled to travel to Turkey to meet with political officials and discuss regional issues, including the Geneva II conference.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will reportedly be addressing the UN Security Council about the possibility for investigating alleged Saudi Arabian financial support of terrorist groups in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki raised the issue to the UN leader, who will be searching for a solution to the violence in Iraq.
  • Industry, Mining and Trade Minister Mohammad Reza Nemat Zadeh announced, “We hope to be able to reach a mutual understanding with Sri Lanka regarding the transfer of this part of oil earnings [blocked due to financial sanctions] to Iran.”
  • Head of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Gholam Hossein Shafeli spoke with the German ambassador during a meeting in which the two established that a German economic and trade delegation would be visiting Iran in the coming days “so that we can witness the widening and development of joint economic relations between Iranian and German economic individuals.” Shafeli added that “Developing economic relations also develops stability in political relations.”
  • The Lebanese Military Attorney General reported that a Palestinian charged with involvement in the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut was arrested.
  • Parliamentary Affairs Deputy to Agricultural Jihad Minister Khalil Aghaei met with MPs from the Republic of Ireland and announced increased cooperation between Iran and Ireland, particularly in the agricultural sector. Aghaei stated, “The import of meat from Ireland has had a good record in our country but due to the mad cow disease in the past few years these imports ceased.”

Military and Security

  • Artesh Commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi spoke of Iran’s strength during negotiationswith the West: “We must note that the enemy announced a position of weakness entering the negotiations, but we have entered these negotiations with strength.” He continued, “Although they entered the political arena due to their weakness in the military dimension, we will also be completely successful in this arena.”
    • “We must continue these nuclear negotiations with a national consensus and support of the administration.”
  • Head of the Basij Organization Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi spoke of the spread of his organization throughout the Arab world, claiming, “Today, Israel is surrounded by the Resistance. After the Palestinian and Lebanese Basij, the Syrian Basij was created, and the Jordanian and Egyptian Basij will also be formed.”
  • IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi spoke to other commanders during Unity Week about using the IRGC to improve the people’s welfare, saying “The nature of the IRGC was formed based on service to the people and this has continued. We consider service to the people to be one of the important parts of our mission.”
    • “The IRGC Navy also works alongside other IRGC forces and groups within a significant geographical radius to make an effort to upgrade security and improve the livelihood, welfare, and comfort of the people.”
  • Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base Commander Brig. Gen. Ebadollah Abdollahi talked about the importance of constructions projects to the nation, saying, “If yesterday during the Holy Defense [Iran-Iraq War] we gave martyrs, today we serve the people in the field of national construction and have a responsibility to do so. We serve the people in this field with spirit and heart.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Senior nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Eraghchi answered questions about whether the recent nuclear agreement and Joint Plan of Action would be published as per the wishes of some MPs. Eraghchi responded, “The agreement on how to implement is an oral agreement, and does not have an official aspect…If MPs have any type of questions, we will happily respond.”
  • Eraghchi also answered questions about upcoming meetings with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): “Presently, we are having two negotiations with the IAEA. The first is how to implement the agreement and the IAEA’s tasks in verifying actions. Our contact and meetings about this are continuing. During the coming days, a delegation from the IAEA will come to Iran in preparation to implement the agreement on January 20.”
    • “The other negotiations with the agency, which are separate from the talks with the P5+1, are connected to solving the remaining issues between Iran and the IAEA.”
    • “The agency is coming on January 21 or [February 1] for negotiations due to interference that occurred during the first talks. The second round of negotiations between Iran and the agency will be held February 8.”
  • Iran Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kemalvandi denied claims that Iran is enriching uranium to 60%: “In the future, Iran needs to enrich uranium to different percentages, but this does not mean that we are now seeking 60% enrichment, although some MPs wanted this.”

Economy

  • Following the announcement of JPA’s implementation, Iranian financial markets, including currency and coin and capital markets, continue to gain.  Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency reports “lines of millions” at the Tehran Stock Exchange to purchase stocks.

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