Iran news round up – February 9, 2015

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 Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad, and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: The Supreme Leader backed the continuation of nuclear negotiations if it leads to an implementable deal, while Esmail Kowsari said a multi-stage deal with the P5+1 is not acceptable.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pointed to Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement: “no deal is better than a bad deal,” and said, “We have the same idea, and believe that the failure to reach an agreement will be better than a deal that is detrimental to the national interests and prepares the ground for humiliation of the great Iranian nation.” Khamenei, moreover, reiterated his support for the nuclear negotiations, stressing any deal must be implementable immediately. Esmail Kowsari, meanwhile, called for the removal of all economic sanctions. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member also echoed Khamenei’s dismissal of the idea of a two-stage nuclear deal: “I believe the purpose of the Westerners and members of the P5+1 in proposing an agreement in two political and detailed stages is to play games with Iran’s nuclear issue.” Senior Iranian officials have coalesced around Khamenei’s policy of compartmentalized negotiations with the West. A nuclear agreement that does not seek to tie-in other issues, such as Iran’s missiles, is thus an acceptable deal for Tehran.

Major General Ataollah Salehi wrote an open letter commemorating the 36th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The Artesh Commander reassured the nation that Artesh forces “will be more capable than in the past protecting the Islamic Revolution and the independence and territorial integrity of our Salehi’s statement suggests he is vying for some of the leadership and praise that has been bestowed on the IRGC, which functions as the strong arm of the regime.

Official Statements

  • Khamenei stresses no nuclear deal is better than a bad agreement. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed Iranian Air Force commanders on February 8, reiterating his opposition to a bad deal with the P5+1. Khamenei added:
    • On the victory of the Islamic Revolution: “Everywhere in the world, in the depths of Africa, even in Latin America, people found a nation that had the courage to stand up against America and its bullying, and they were excited.”
    • “They see a nation that stands against the bullying powers, nations that had their own challenges with America and Western powers, were excited they advocated and were interested [in the Islamic Revolution].”
    • “Who opposed this? The opposition was headed by the United States of America. They [the West] feared this growing movement and were afraid of the influence it had over the nations [they tried to control] so they were forced to react.”
    • “The first cure that came to their minds was to turn off the focal point [Iran], the center of all excitement so the problem would go away.”
    • “America’s enmity towards Iran started on the first day [of the Revolution]. Everything they could do, they tried, from a military, economic, cultural… standpoint to [place pressure against Iran].”
    • “America’s enmity stems from the Revolution, which the people accepted and welcomed. It is wrong to pretend that they only oppose some individuals [the regime]; they were enemies with the Imam [Khomeini], and today they are enemies with Ali Khamenei, it’s not like that, their enmity is based on this movement…”
    • “Several American politicians have made a mistake saying that Iran is the enemy and reiterated that they are opposed to the Iranian nation. Today any move America and its allies make is done in order to humiliate and bring the Iranian nation to its knees.”
    • “It is a fact, based on analysis of events in the region, and in particular events against our beloved country, that the Americans have made errors. They have made strategic mistakes; these errors will continue to harm them…”
    • On nuclear negotiations: “An American official said that the Iranians are caught with their hands tied behind their backs at the negotiations table. This is a miscalculation, the Iranian nation is not trapped… “
    • On US foreign policy failures: “They [the US] think that Iran is caught in a corner! They say Iran is up against a wall! No sir, you’re wrong! You are the ones facing problems.”
    • “All the realities of our region show that America’s regional goals and outside of the region have failed.”
    • “America was defeated in Syria, America was defeated in Iraq, America was defeated in Lebanon, and America has been defeated in Gaza. America has failed to dominate Afghanistan and Pakistan and they are hated among the people of these nations.”
    • “America has failed in Ukraine, you have serious failures, it has been many years of consecutive failures.”
    • “It is the Islamic Republic that has advanced. The regime of the Islamic Republic of 35 years ago is incomparable to today’s regime.”
    • On reaching a nuclear deal: “No deal is better than a bad deal,” as Washington has mentioned; “We have the same idea, and believe that the failure to reach an agreement will be better than a deal that is detrimental to the national interests and prepares the ground for humiliation of the great Iranian nation.”
    • “Everyone should know that our negotiations team and our government are doing everything it can to take the enemy’s age-old sanctions from its hands.”
    • “I agree with an agreement that could be implemented, but disagree with a bad deal.”
    • “America and several European countries- who  follow [America] like children- are  making a grave mistake, a strategic mistake; these European countries, subject to America’s demands and insistence, want a [deal] to be realized; but this is wrong and not the way to negotiate.”
    • “The Arak [heavy water reactor], which is a very large and important technological project, is currently stopped. Fordow, which is one of the top initiatives of our defense and internal elements to provide for the security of our centrifuges, have currently stopped.”
    • “To reach a deal Iran temporarily stopped 20% enrichment… the other side is still asking for concessions.”
    • “…President [Hassan] Rouhani made a good point that negotiation means that the two sides work to reach common points.”
    • “I agree on the continuation and progress of the talks and reaching a good deal.”
    • On the proposed idea of a two-staged deal: “Such a deal is not acceptable, because our experience of the opposite side’s behavior shows that mere agreement on the generalities will become a tool for making successive excuses over details.”
    • “If there is to be any deal, it must have a single stage and include generalities and details together… [any deal must be] clear, transparent and not open to interpretation.” (Khamenei.ir)
  • Kowsari echoes the Supreme Leader’s opposition to a multi-stage nuclear deal. Esmail Kowsari called for the removal of all economic sanctions imposed by the West. The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member also reiterated Khamenei’s statements regarding a two-stage nuclear deal with the P5+1:
    • “I believe the purpose of the Westerners and members of the P5+1 in proposing an agreement in two political and detailed stages is to play games with Iran’s nuclear issue.”
    • “The idea of them deciding what we will do, is unacceptable to us, this also needs to be understood by our negotiations team and of course we have trust in them.”
    • “America’s purpose in proposing a two-stage deal with Iran is [to raise matters] other than the nuclear issues, including the security of the Zionist regime and the Al Saud regime.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Jalili: Economic problems cannot be solved through political negotiations. IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalili stated that it is an illusion to think that the nation’s problems will be solved by political negotiations and the country should instead rely on its own power. The representative of the Supreme Leader to the SCNS the necessity of not only martyrs by the culture of martyrdom for the strength and protection of the nation. He added that the enemy is capable of changing the battlefield from military one day to sedition, subversion and economic sanctions the next; so, to think economic problems can be solved by a political negotiation is an illusion. (Defapress)
  • Alavi praises Khamenei’s ability to thwart enemy plots and conspiracies. Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi expressed his pride in the Supreme Leader’s ability to thwart enemy plots on the 36th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The Minister of Intelligence claimed that revolution has evolved over four different generations and the fifth generation will challenge the theories of the past. He claimed that the repression of social movements that led to the Islamic Revolution were not favorable at the time, but ultimately Khomeini achieved victory in 1979 by the grace of God without the need for military force. Alavi drew on several historical references, such as social movements during the revolution to describe the defeat of the Shah; Alavi appealed to the youth to continue the revolutionary framework laid out by Khomeini and said that the movement is in competent hands under the current Supreme Leader. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Rezai: ISIS cannot defeat Muslim countries. Mohsen Rezai stated that Muslim countries can defeat the ISIS insurrection without the need for foreign troops on Muslim lands in a meeting with Jordanian Ambassador Abdullah Suleiman Abdullah Abu Romman, on February 7. The Secretary of the Expediency Council expressed his condolences to the family of the Jordanian pilot that was recently killed by ISIS. Rezai also claimed that ISIS has sparked the emotions of Muslims and the people of the world and stated that Muslims will defeat ISIS. The Jordanian ambassador in response showed appreciation for Rezai’s expression of sympathy for the fallen pilot and confidence over the defeat of ISIS. (IRNA)
  • Hajizadeh: self-sufficiency is IRGC Air Force’s “first line of defense”. At the “Air Force Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” Conference, IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated that “Achievement of self-sufficiency is our first line of defense today, and the academic community and experts in the field can play a decisive role.” The IRGC Air Force Commander noted that the IRGC Air Force was renamed the IRGC Aerospace Force “based on developments in the field of aerospace”; he stated that the change, which Carrying out this change “propelled the orientation of this force towards exclusively aerial activities in the aerospace sector.” (Sepah News )
  • Salehi: the Artesh is “more capable” than ever to protect the Islamic Revolution. In a message commemorating the 36th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Artesh Commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi stated, “We assure, alongside the dear fighters of the IRGC and other armed forces, under the leadership of wise Muslims and the Supreme Leader, we will be more capable than in the past of protecting the Islamic Revolution and the independence and territorial integrity of our country.” (Sepah News )

Military and Security

  • IRI Air Force unveils new fighter jet. The Iranian Air Force revealed a new advanced training and fighter jet called “Lightening 2”. Deputy Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) Amir Khatami stated that the jet is designed to carry out “close support… for tactical missions.” Khatami praised the MODAFL scientists who designed the jet, saying that its creation was part of “MODAFL’s strategy to strengthen the Air Force by relying on domestic ability.” (Mehr News)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Zarif met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abdi. Mohammad Javad Zarif met privately with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abdi after the close of the fifty-first Munich Security Conference. The Foreign Minister is scheduled to meet Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and has already met with several high ranking officials such as EU Foreign Policy chief Frederica Mogherini. Deputy Foreign Ministers Majid Takht Ravanchi and Abbas Araghchi also met with representatives from Germany and France to discuss the nuclear issue. (YJC)

By AEI Critical Threat