A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Marie Donovan, Warren Marshall, and Dianna Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: Zarif met with his Iraqi and Syrian counterparts on the sidelines of an international meeting on terrorism and extremism in Tehran. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) dismissed reports on the agency’s illicit procurement of machinery for the Arak heavy water reactor.
President Hassan Rouhani urged regional states to make a concerted effort to resolve ongoing security threats without Western intervention. Trilateral talks between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jafari, moreover, reaffirm Tehran’s commitment to Baghdad and Damascus and its attempt to counter the US-led coalition against ISIL.
Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia met with Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad and both sides underlined the importance of expanding Iran-Pakistan relations. Tehran’s outreach to Russia continued with Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli’s visit to Moscow, where he laid the groundwork for a joint counternarcotic agreement.
AEOI Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that he did not have any information on the UN panel of experts’ report that claims Iran purchased banned nuclear technology for the Arak heavy water reactor. Kamalvandi, however, added that there was no breech of last year’s Joint Plan of Action, since the agreement does not ban the purchase of “parts,” it “only bans installing new equipment.” This statement suggests that the regime will continue to push the technical boundaries of its nuclear program through steady negotiations and ostensible compliance.
- Rouhani offers guidelines for fighting terrorism. President Hassan Rouhani stressed the importance of cooperation among Middle Eastern countries in combating terrorism, saying that there was no need for extra-regional players pursuing their own interests to become involved with this issue. Rouhani also called for those states that had helped organize and finance terrorist groups to pay reparations to the affected countries. (ISNA)
- Alavi announced the arrest of 20 former government officials for fraud. Intelligence Minister Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi said that the cases of fraud from the former government were discovered late last year, but were not revealed until today so that people will not distrust the current government. He added that “20 people have been arrested, 3 of which are in custody, and 30 more need to be interviewed for their involvement in the financial violations. So far, most that which has been embezzled from the treasury has been returned and only small amounts remain.” (IRNA)
- Velayati: Lifting of sanctions must be in the future negotiations. Ali Akbar Velayati said that the “Supreme Leader has never been against negotiations in relation to different political and international issues.” The Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader warned the negotiating team against “exceed[ing]” the framework previously outlined by the Supreme Leader. Velayati stated that Israel continues to threaten Iran. (Mehr News)
- AEOI: there is a possibility of reaching an agreement. Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran has been projected as obstinate in the nuclear negotiations; and that on the contrary, “…it has been shown that we are negotiators, and where possible there is a need to be flexible.” The Head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEOI) also said that “we are seeking a ‘win-win’ agreement… we have become closer in the areas of enrichment, heavy water reactor, sanctions and Fordow…” (IRNA) AEOI Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi also stated that the “purchase of equipment for the Arak heavy water reactor is not contrary to the Geneva agreement.” (IRNA)
- Iran most influential country in the world. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan encouraged college students to live up to the sacred ideals of the Islamic Revolution and stated that it is a student’s responsibility to advance in science and technology in order to strengthen the Revolution. The Defense Minister stated that Iran is the most influential country in a complex world. (Defa Press)
- America has no definite strategy for Iraq. IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Rasul Senaeerad said the Americans have no set strategy for dealing with ISIL in Iraq since they were only going to use airstrikes but now there are talks of sending in troops on the ground. The Deputy Political Director added that the US is trying to take advantage of the opportunities to expand its influence in the region. (Defa Press)
- New medical facility announced. Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi announced the construction of a four thousand square meter medical facility in the village of Chah-e Mobarak in the southeastern province of Bushehr, which borders the Persian Gulf. The IRGC Navy Forces Commander explained that the facility would serve both military personnel and local residents. (Fars News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Iranian Economy Minister meets with Pakistani Prime Minister. Ali Tayyebnia met with Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad to promote bilateral ties. Sharif underlined Islamabad’s commitment to expand “all-out relations” with Tehran. Sharif pointed to Tayyebnia’s meeting with Pakistani officials, as part of the 19th Joint Economic Cooperation Commission meeting and said that he is pleased to see the neighboring countries make progress. (Mehr News)
- Hamas delegation traveled to Iran. Senior Hamas officials Maher Obeid and Ahmad Jamal are scheduled to hold talks with Iranian officials in Tehran. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Iran and Russia discuss joint efforts to combat drug trafficking. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli met with Viktor Ivanov, the Head of Russian Federal Drug Control Services in Moscow. The two sides are scheduled to hold talks on international security cooperation and sign a joint counter narcotics agreement. (IRIB)
- Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi FMs meet. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jafari met to discuss regional international issues. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said that Iran has a major role in solving the ongoing “problem of terrorism” in the region. President Rouhani also spoke with the Syrian Foreign Minister and stated it has become clear that Damascus is capable of fighting terrorism and protecting the country. Rouhani added that even those who helped create and support the terrorists are gradually distancing themselves from them. (IRNA) (ABNA)
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