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.
- Attending various events throughout the day, President Hassan Rouhani discussed the Geneva accord, foreign relations, minority rights, and responded to recent criticism:
- At the joint Khuzestan Armed Forces 92nd Mechanized Division Headquarters:
- “For the administration, the country’s expansion including the expansion of Khuzestan is important.”
- “Unemployment, poverty and lack of expansion are enemies that we must confront.”
- “The administration extends its hand of need to the armed forces.”
- “Perhaps some administration decisions may add to your responsibilities in the armed forces. The administration is determined to announce all of Abadan and Khorramshahr as free areas. This means that the type of your preservation and defense of the borders of the country and the province will be more complicated, but no harm must be inflicted to our national and internal security or the security of the strategic Khuzestan province. It is here where more cooperation than before is needed between the administration and armed forces.”
- “Our armed forces are constantly prepared based on a strategy of deterrence and defense but we do not seek war.”
- “[W]e will not retreat a millimeter from our rights.”
- “Meanwhile we are not prepared to back down from our rights in the discussion of using peaceful nuclear technology.”
- “Peaceful nuclear technology is our legal right and we will not back down from it. As per the fatwa of the Supreme Leader we will never pursue nuclear weapons.”
- Addressing a gathering of Khuzestan nomads before noon:
- “Confronting Arrogance [West] today means developing the country.”
- “The enemy is standing before us today and we must plan for expansion and development of the country.”
- “Today the nomads must be utilized as a great opportunity for a new era in the country. We must invite nomads to the field for Iran’s expansion.”
- “Nomads have played many a great role in independence, freedom and constitutionalism [in earlier 20th century]. They played a special role in the Islamic Revolution, Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq War], and the country’s grandeur.”
- “We will not accept violation of citizen rights regarding nomads and tribes.”
- Attending the session for reviewing the expansion capacities of Khuzestan in the evening:
- “The administration is responsible for foreign policy and it is this administration that decides within the framework of the Supreme Leader’s policies in this arena and no one can interfere in this field.”
- “Some think we like to smile with foreigners and drink coffee. Smiling and confidence building is for the country’s expansion.”
- “Our desire and final goal is to improve the people’s livelihood from a material and spiritual aspect. We must pay attention to all aspects to do this.”
- “Some said ‘Why do you attach such importance to foreign policy.’ We must say that we do not attach importance to foreign policy, we attach importance to the national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
- “Our national interests are mortgaged in the activation of foreign policy and sometimes economic policy or other areas. Unilateral expansion is not possible. We will expand in all areas in a balanced and calculated way.”
- “In my opinion this step [of implementing the Geneva accord] is in foreign policy, national security, economy and also in Islamic Republic of Iran’s placement in the region and the world.”
- “Why was the Zionist regime angered and upset by the Geneva accord and still continues to be?”
- At the joint Khuzestan Armed Forces 92nd Mechanized Division Headquarters:
- Representative of the Supreme Leader in Khuzestan Province Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri praised President Rouhani and stated, “The materials that were introduced in the President’s speech today were very encouraging for the Iranian nation and people of Khuzestan. Matters such as drinking water, occupation, agriculture and cultural issues are very sensitive issues that are considered the concerns of the family of martyrs and the Khuzestani people.”
- Head of the Judiciary Branch Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani urged the Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC to “be aware of the danger posed by takfiri currents in the country, not consider takfiri views as a difference of opinion among Islamic sects, [and] pursue proportionate confrontation with the anti-security nature of these currents. Takfiri and salaficurrents have no relation to Islam and the beliefs of Sunni brothers, rather they are Western created sects to weaken Islamic societies.”
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:
- “We trust in our negotiators and consider them children of the revolution.”
- “It must be said that America’s meddling in such matters must cease. Imad Mughniyeh is in the heart of each and every single Iranian and Americans do not have the right to meddle in such matters.”
Military and Security
- IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour was granted the “Victory One” medal by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
- IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari issued Pakpour a letter of congratulations for receiving the honor, praising him for his “compassionate and daily efforts in carrying out his mission.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
Photo of the Day
- ISNA photo essay of Disabled Theater Festival closing ceremony.
By Iran Tracker
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