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.
- The second day of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, towards a final nuclear deal concluded in Vienna. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif doubted the possibility of reaching a final agreement in this latest round of talks, adding that he and his counterpart, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, would guide the negotiations process, while their respective deputies would take the lead.
- After landing in Vienna yesterday, Foreign Minister Zarif stated that the topics of discussion in this latest round of negotiations will include “uranium enrichment, the Arak heavy water reactor, peaceful nuclear cooperation, and the lifting of sanctions.”
- Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvand asserted that Iran has not abrogated its “right” of enrichment above 20% and noted, “We have said that we will not produce for six months in order to build trust.” He added that the country can resume 20% enrichment “in less than a day; two-three hours. Of course I have announced the approximation of this time.” Kamalvandi also announced that Iran and Russia will sign an agreement to construct at least two new nuclear power plants, each with desalination and a minimum of 1,000 megawatts capacity, within the next two-three months.
- At Saturday’s open session of Parliament, Speaker Ali Larijani threatened that Iran would break nuclear negotiations in reaction to the recent UN human rights report and announced, “American and UN officials must know that they will be the cause of breaking up negotiations and should not say that Iran has left the negotiations table.”
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with officials of the rahian-e noor (“Companions of the light”) tour program, a cultural program that takes participants to Iran-Iraq War era battlefields, and praised the program as “a very worthy divine and revolutionary initiative” in familiarizing the youth with the “Sacred Defense.” Khamenei added that visiting battlefields prevents “amnesia” and “distortion.”
- The Supreme Leader’s official website Khamenei.ir published the results of a poll asking readers to vote the most important sentence uttered by Khamenei in the past year. The public chose the following as most important: “If they [Israeli officials] make any mistake the Islamic Republic will obliterate Tel Aviv and Haifa [See Iran News Round Up March 21, 2013].”
- Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced preparations to hold the 2016 Parliamentary and Guardian Council elections “fully electronically” and said, “Electronic elections increase speed, accuracy, veracity and transparency.”
- The Supreme National Security Council Secretariat filed a complaint against MP Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Nabavian in the Supervision on the Behavior of Representatives Board for his recent criticism of the Geneva Accord at several universities. Nabavian responded that domestic critics of the nuclear deal are “heavily under pressure[from supporters of the accord]” and said that “it seems such individuals do not believe in freedom of speech at all.”
- Judiciary Branch Human Rights Headquarters Secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani criticized the recent United Nations human rights report on Iran and said that the purported number of individuals on death row—8,000 according to reports—is not “correct” and that “80%” of those on death row committed crimes “related to narcotics.” He then expressed hope for the release of 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi from house arrest.
- Larijani also claimed, “We do not have anyone in prison for being Baha’i” and that “criticism” and “freedom of speech” is “prevalent” in the Islamic Republic.
- The Media Supervisory Board issued the edict to shut down the conservative 9-Daynewspaper and has referred the case to the Special Clerical Court. The official order claims that the newspaper was shut down for publishing several articles claiming widespread firing of nuclear scientists and criticizing President Hassan Rouhani’s distance with the Supreme Leader’s nuclear policy. Managing Director Hojjat al-Eslam Hamid Rasaei claimed that the media outlet was shut down “due to criticism of Hassan Rouhani’s administration” and wrote retorts to Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (addressing him as “the administration’s primary supporters”), President Hassan Rouhani and Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ali Jannati including quotes from each on media freedom.
- National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member and former senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad EsmailKowsari criticized the closure of 9-Day, calling it “wrong” to shut down a newspaper “from a party” in retaliation to shutting down a newspaper “from another party.” Kowsari added, “If a newspaper violates national security, it is another matter. However, it is different if the newspaper or media criticizes an administration or an individual.”
Military and Security
- Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi praised Iranian defense progress during the past thirty years and stated, “We neither pursue war nor welcome it. However, we will certainly strengthen ourselves from a military equipment perspective so no enemy will dare to threaten and invade.”
- Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Saidi emphasized vigilance in the cultural arena and said, “Destroying the people’s beliefs to change behavior is in the enemy’s agenda today. All of the divine leaders’ concerns has been whether the enemy can affect the people’s spirit, thought and behavior.”
- Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh claimed that Iranian crude oil production capacity has reached 3.8 million barrels per day (mbd) and that crude oil production will surpass 4 mbds in the next Iranian calendar year [2014-2015]. Zanganeh added that natural gas production capacity will increase to 100 million cubic meters per day during this timeframe, with the operationalization of some South Pars gas field phases.
- Head of the Central Bank Valiollah Seif stated, “The current approach to control inflation will continue in the country and a more appropriate approach will be implemented to guide monetary resources towards production.”
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