Iran news round up – September 22, 2014

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Diana Timmerman, and Marie Donovan.

Official Statements

  • Deputy Energy Minister Rahim Meydani announced that the water crisis gripping the entire country is threatening underground basins and 78% of plains, which are facing extinction, and that reducing consumption is “the only path of saving these resources.” He added that the Supreme Water Council will reduce agricultural consumption by 25% as a response. (Mehr News Agency)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Special Coordinator for Lebanon to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon Derek Plumbly reportedly announced that Tehran and Riyadh “intensively” support peace and stability in Lebanon. (Alef)
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif discussed the need for and problems plaguing Sunni-Shi’a cooperation against ISIS:
    • “We must all help the current problems, and today’s situation, particularly the activities of terrorist groups in the region requires dialogue, cooperation, and responsibility.”
    • “The image of Islam has been targeted, and a plan of discussion of conflict between Sunnis and Shi’as to deviate from the fight against terrorism and extremism is ongoing.” (Defa Press)
  • President Hassan Rouhani congratulated newly elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and expressed hope that “brotherly relations between the two Islamic countries and neighbors” would improve. (Asr Iran)
  • Al Monitor reported that Iranian and Saudi officials are organizing the groundwork for President Rouhani’s travel to Riyadh next month. Rouhani met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal on the sidelines of the UNGS on September 21. President Rouhani also congratulated King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the country’s National Day.(TabnakTabnak)
  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal on the sidelines of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss regional security. Zarif expressed optimism following the talks and described them as a “new page” in bilateral relations between Tehran and Riyadh.  (Young Journalists Club)

Military and Security

  • Islamic Republic of Iran Armed forces parade unveiled the IRGC Air Force’s new missile system “Ra’d 2” and triple launcher. The “Ra’d 2” is said to be capable of hitting targets higher than an altitude of 70,000 feet. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari addressed the press on the sidelines of the annual military parade in Tehran and announced plans for an upcoming naval exercise and the unveiling of the new “Damavand” destroyer and “Fateh” submarine. Sayyari also talked about China’s naval vessel docked in Bandar Abbas and said:
    • “The Velayat 3 naval exercises will be staged in the near future.”
    • “The objective of this exercise is protection of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders in territorial waters, the regions under [Iran’s] control and free waters.”
    • “The Chinese forces sailing on the fleet that docked in Bandar Abbas are due to partake in joint naval exercises with Iran.” (Defa Press)
  • President Hassan Rouhani addressed the armed forces of Iran during a military exercise commemorating “Sacred Defense Week”:
    • “Our military has been innovative and inventive, and has created new weapons, but more importantly it has the faith and inspiration that has made our armed forces the most powerful in the region.”
    • “We are proud of our armed forces and the government supports the armed forces will all it can, and the government will take any steps to strengthen the military as much as possible.”
    • “Thankfully today we are witnessing victories in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Palestine, and even great courage in Yemen and also new cohesion in Afghanistan. (Mehr News)
  • A military parade took place in Tehran at the Holy Shrine of Imam Khomeini and across the country, showcasing military at least 58 different military weapon systems including  “Rakhsh tanks, T-55 battlefield recovery tanks, Pegasus vehicles, 120mm Howitzer canons, 170mm artillery canons, Fajr 3 and 5 rockets, Zelzal 1 rockets, anti-naval rockets, etc. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • A number of new weapons systems were unveiled at the military parade. The most important of these were three new missile systems, the Sejil missile with a range of 2000km, the Ghadr F with a range of 2000km, and the Ghadr H with a range of 1350km. Many other missiles were shown at the parade including the short-range Hormuz 1 and 2 which is anti-radar and can be used to destroy radar sites, aircraft carriers, or intercept Patriot missiles. (Fars News Agency)
  • Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi spoke on Iranian involvement in the fight against ISIS, denying the need for Iranian troops on the ground:
    • “As the head of the armed forces, I think this coalition is a massive conspiracy in the region.” He also noted: “American officials had previously called ISIS an Islamic country, so that the crimes of this group would be in the name of Islam. Now, with the formation of a coalition of countries involved in regional and economic issues, there is no intention of serious actions against ISIS.”
    • “There is no need for Iranian troops to enter the fight against ISIS… we give this country [Iraq] advisory aid and military counsel.” (Defa Press)
  • Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, dismissed US hard power , touted Iranian regional power, gave details on the 1999 decision to invade Afghanistan, discussed President Rouhani’s role in cracking down on the 1999 student uprising, and admitted that some IRGC and Basij members have violated the IRGC’s constitutional mandate on non-interference in Iranian political parties:
    • Previous cooperation with US: “We cooperated with the Americans, in a way after the Afghanistan adventure, but they did not give us any concessions. The Americans are dishonest with the Islamic Revolution. Worse than that is the Zionists’ influence in America. But I do not assess a military threat.”
    • “The Americans will never again repeat Afghanistan and Iraq. The Islamic Republic of Iran has become so strong that it will answer any military threat with superior power. I am confident that neither the Zionists nor the Americans are military threats for us.”
    • “With the grace of God, we behaved with the Americans and its allies in [First Gulf War, invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq] in such a way, from a strategic political view, that our two great enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan were eliminated.”
    • “The result of the Supreme Leader’s decision and policies of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) was an increase in Iran’s geopolitical weight. Our weight has become supreme in West Asia, meaning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, and Arab countries. The scale of power favors Iran.”
    • Armed forces mobilized to attack Afghanistan in 2009 following the killing of Iranian diplomats: “I do not want to enter details. I was IRGC Commander at the time. We placed two divisions by the Afghan border. We mobilized tanks and airplanes. This was unprecedented in Iran’s transportation history. [The Supreme Leader] was in Mashhad at the time. We requested permission to give them a lesson. But he did not accept and said that it was not expedient. He objected with many rational reasons, but we showed the power than we can mobilize two divisions within 58 hours….I requested permission from him afterwards and we punished them in a different way. They did not cause problems for us after that.”
    • IRGC in Iranian politics: “Regarding this year’s election when we went to visit [the Supreme Leader], [he] announced to all commanders that they absolutely have no right and then gave an official order.”
    • “It is possible that elements of our Basij have been interested in some areas or have even done some violations. The Basij do not fall under us like the Guards. The Basij may have committed some errors. It is possible for some IRGC individuals to take some political positions, which was a mistake sometimes.”
    • “The IRGC must not interfere in any political party. This is a restriction that the Imam [Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader have ordered…It is a religious order, as well, not participating in any internal partisanship or against any candidates.”
    •  “The Guards’ political line is the line of the velayat [guardianship of the jurisprudence]. We do not belong to any parties form a political perspectives.”
    • 1999 student uprising: “Per the SNSC’s order, the IRGC must take the responsibility of Law Enforcement Forces cannot establish peace and security. But the Interior Minister and President [Mohammad Khatami] opposed the IRGC’s entrance at the time. But Dr. Rouhani, as SNSC Secretary, decided to give the responsibility to the IRGC a week [after uprising]. The matter ended after a few hours without any bloodshed…There was no casualties to life, but there was political damage.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Nuclear

  • Prior to travelling to New York City to attend the 69th UNGA session, President Hassan Rouhani stated, “We have a unified voice regarding the nuclear matter, and that is ‘yes to peaceful technology and no to nuclear weapons.’ We are all united in this slogan.” He added that bilateral meetings will take place with regional states at the sideline of the assembly to discuss “the region’s expediency.” (Mehr News Agency)
  • International Affairs Deputy to Speak of Parliament Hossein Sheikholeslam responded to the American nuclear negotiators’ proposal to disconnect uranium enrichment centrifuges instead of dismantling them:
    • “This proposal is ridiculous…If such a proposal is formally presented by American officials, it indicates their childish outlook on the negotiations or stupid assumptions of the Iranian side.”
    • America wants to make it appear that they have offered a constructive proposal to Iran, but that we rejected it.” (Fars News Agency)
  • The Iranian nuclear negotiating team is holding bilateral meetings with the Chinese and Russian delegations today in New York. The Iranian team met with representatives of the negotiating teams from Germany, France, and the UK on Saturday. In addition, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met individually with the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Russia and China. Zarif expressed optimism following the talks and described them as a “new page” in bilateral relations between Tehran and Riyadh.  (Alef) (Young Journalists Club)

Economy

  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued the state’s comprehensive science and technology policies to the Executive, legislative and judicial branches on September 21, following consultation with the Expediency Discernment Council. The policies aspire to transform Iran into the Islamic world’s science and technology leader acquire cutting edge technology, boost research, reform intellectual property laws, and develop a robust knowledge-based Iranian market. The document places a heavy emphasis on preserving Islamic “values, ethics, and considerations.” Some of the key policies related to these efforts:
    • “1.1 – Continuous scientific jihad with the goal of achieving scientific and technological superiority.
    • 1.5 – Achieve advanced science and technology with special planning and policy-making.
    • 2 – Optimize the behavior and structure of the country’s research and teaching system in order to achieve the [Vision 2025 document, which calls for transforming the economic foundation from oil-based into knowledge-based] and scientific blossoming.
    • 2.1 – Support the establishment and expansion of science and research parks.
    • 2.7 – Identify intellectuals, train talents, and preserve and absorb human capital.
    • 2-8 – Increase science and research budget to at least 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) by [2025], which emphasizes optimized consumption of resources and increased efficiency.
    • 3 – The rule of Islamic values, ethics, and considerations in the higher education system and Islamic universities.
    • 4 – Strengthen national determination and increase social understanding towards the importance of expanding science and research.
    • 5 –Transform relations between the higher education system with other sectors.
    • 5.1 – Increase the share of science and technology in the economy and national revenue.
    • 5.2 – Spiritual and material support of the trend of transforming ideas into products and increase the share of the production of goods and services based on advanced domestic knowledge in GDP, with the goal of achieving a 50% share.
    • 5.3 – Strengthen and deepen the ties between areas of production and universities and strengthen continuous strategic cooperation.
    • 5.4 – Adjust the proportionality between education and jobs and appropriating educational degrees with the country’s comprehensive scientific plan and production and job needs.
    • 5.5 – Support intellectual and spiritual property and complete the related infrastructures and regulations.
    • 5.7 – Increase the share and participation of the non-government sector in science and technology and strengthen the sealing of waqf [charity] in this arena.
    • 6 – Expand active, constructive, and inspiring cooperation and relations in science and technology with other countries and prominent regional, especially Islamic, and global science and research centers with reliance on national independence.
    • 6.1 – Expanding goods and services based on the latest science and technology and support the production and exportation of knowledge-based goods by relying on special indigenous technologies in potential areas and capacities and reform importation and exportation.
    • 6.2 – Efforts to transfer technology and acquiring design knowledge and infrastructure to produce goods inside the country by using the capacity of national market in consuming imported goods.
    • 6.3 – Using the scientific and technological capacities of Iranians living abroad and absorb researchers and experts of other countries, especially from Islamic countries, as needed.
    • 6.4 – Transform Iran into the center of publishing scientific articles and attract the results of research efforts of other countries, especially from the Islamic world.” (Center for the Preservation and Publication of the Works of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)
  • National Iranian Oil Company Exploration Affairs Director Hormoz Ghalavand announced a joint oil shale exploration project with an unnamed European firm and a “European university” in the Zagros Mountains and Fars provinces. This project underlies Iran’s effort to attract foreign investment in the energy sector and restart exploration efforts, which have lagged in recent years. He also gave details on Iran’s latest IPC oil contract model designed to attract foreign investment, which will cover stages exploration, expansion, and production and will also include clauses on participating Iranian companies in joint projects. Ghalavand added that 15 out of 40 “exploration blocks” may be proposed to foreign firms. (Islamic Republic News Agency)

By AEI Critical Threats

 

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