Iran news round up January 15, 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

Diplomacy and Regional Developments

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad to speak about the nations’ bilateral relations and important regional security issues. Zarif said Iran was prepared to develop economic, political, and cultural cooperation with Syria, adding, “In order for there to be a solution to the Syrian crisis, there must be realism and movement towards the path of political discussions. The Geneva II conference has the political and international capacity to solve the Syrian crisis. Held successfully, it can prevent the continuation of killing innocent people.”
    • Zarif also met with Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moalem in Damascus to take about regional issues and relations.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who congratulated Iran on the nuclear deal with the P5+1 in Kuwait at the sidelines of a Syrian aid conference. Ban also spoke about the Syrian crisis, saying: “I have emphasized the need for Iran’s presence during the negotiations on the Syrian crisis because I think Iran is a key actor. The UN also supports Iran’s presence at Geneva II.”
    • Abdollahian noted the food and medicine that Iran had provided to the Syrian people over the past few years, as well as its call for a political solution, and said, “Iran is prepared to be present at the Geneva II conference without any type of preconditions. We believe that the Syrian crisis only has a political solution…The Syrian people are the primary decision-makers of their own political fate.”
  • The Lebanese Military announced that it had arrested one Syrian member of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and killed another. The statement reads, “Jamal Daftardar, a leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was arrested in the Western Beqaa region by army intelligence forces. Another terrorist was killed during Daftardar’s arrest.”
  • Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morteza Sarmadi spoke with Sri Lankan Industry and Trade Minister Rishad Bathiudin in Tehran. Bathiudin expressed his support of relations between the countries and announced his country’s preparedness and desire to use Iranian capabilities and experiences by bringing Iranian merchants, traders, and investors to Sri Lanka to participate in civil, developmental, and infrastructural projects.
  • National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Vice-Chairman MP Mansour Haghighat Pour commented on nuclear negotiations and responded to condemnation of Foreign Minister Zarif’s visit of former Lebanese Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh’s grave by US officials:

Military and Security

  • IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour was granted the “Victory One” medal by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • Head of the Basij Organization Brig. Gen. Mohammad Naghdi harshly criticized the King of Saudi Arabia during Unity Week, saying, “The King of Saudi Arabia is Sunni to the same degree that the Pahlavi King was Shi’a. The source and origin of this division is in America and England.”
    • Naghdi addressed the bombing of Shi’a pilgrims, saying, “If there were ten times the bombings and assassinations, that would not make us doubt Sunnis one bit and would make us certain that those [bombers] were neither Shi’a nor Sunni.”
    • “Enemies have feared the advance of Islam, so they have hypocritically turned to breaking the unity of Islam.”
  • Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan accompanied President Hassan Rouhani on his trip to Khuzestan province and announced that Iranian security forces would be working together to remove the huge number of mines from the region: “A large part of the operation to clean Khuzestan province, which became the most polluted region in the world during the Imposed War [Iran-Iraq War], will be undertaken with the planning and efforts of the country’s mine-removal center, the IRGC, the Artesh, and private companies.”
  • Senior Advisor the Supreme Leader in the IRGC Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani responded to a question asking how the US could increase sanctions and say all options are on the table, while also having diplomatic relations to solve the nuclear issue: “There is no contradiction in the statements of American officials, but rather these statements are logical. When Americans say ‘We must put Iran under pressure to make its people negotiate and reach an agreement with us, and we also want an agreement with them,’ their intent with the agreement is that they will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
    • “In reality, America’s intent with the agreement is to stop all Iranian nuclear activity and enrichment as well as the fuel cycle. The Americans know that elimination of the fuel cycle is a red line for Iran. For the same reason they want to pressure and militarily threaten Iran to make it retreat from its red line, but the nation of Iran and its government have a consensus on the elimination of the fuel cycle and nuclear resources and will never negotiate over these.”

Economy

  • The Foreign Ministry has asked the administration to select an Iranian bank to receive $4.2 billion in blocked assets as part of the implementation of the Geneva accord beginning on Monday. Mehr News reports, “There is a list of government and private banks at the table of the administration. Given the approach of the Central Bank and its method of interaction with banks outside the country, it seems that a private bank will be introduced.”
  • Oil Ministry Oil Contracts Reviewal Committee member Nosratollah Espiari discussed current obstacles in oil industry contracts and changes that must occur in new contracts:
    • Currently, the fundamental issue in the oil industry is securing monetary resources and investment. All of the attempts of the Oil Contracts Reviewal Committee have been toward attracting foreign investment in Iran’s oil industry. This act will not be fulfilled until the necessary attractions are created for investors….A different situation must be created in new contracts so the interests of the country and the investor are observed at any time.”
    • Potential reforms include: Lengthening contract timeline, increasing rate of return, removing ceiling of capital expenditures and considering bonus payment per execution of satisfied projects.
  • Iran Energy Exchange Managing Director Ali Hosseini announced, “The permit to distribute crude oil in the Energy Exchange has been issued by the Oil Minister. The distributed crude oil [5,000 barrels per day] in the Energy Exchange is solely to secure inputs for small domestic refineries. Currently the conditions to export oil to international markets via the Energy Exchange have not been created. Based on the agreement, it is estimated that the National Iranian Oil Company will begin distributing natural gas products of the Southern Pars Gas fields in the Energy Exchange beginning [January 21].” Hosseini added that $350 billion in natural gas and oil products have been sold in the Energy Exchange since September.
  • Head of the Central Bank Valiollah Seif emphasized the bank’s policy to maintain stability in the currency market and stated, “It is doubtful that if such an event occurs it would lead to growth in the industry section and increase production.”

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