Iran news round up February 17, 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:  President Hassan Rouhani highlighted the “structural” problems which led to the restructuring of the the Iranian Space Agency.  IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami stated that due to Iranian ballistic missile ability, U.S. “…maritime strategy… has changed.”

President Hassan Rouhani discussed the January 9 announcement of the restructuring of the Iranian Space Agency. He noted, his administration “realized that “unwanted changes occur structurally in the problem of aerospace science…. We saw that many of the scientific centers must be under direct supervision, to better develop; for this reason, we have placed the space program and its corresponding research center in the Ministry of Communications [and Information Technology. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced that the space program’s first ten-year development plan has reached the end of its testing stage and the second ten-year development plan has begun to implement more applied uses of technology. Iran’s first manned spacecraft prototype was also unveiled; “the spacecraft is scheduled to be launched into orbit next year.

Deputy Commander of the IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami stated that “Our ballistic missiles place hit[s] the enemy vessels at sea with zero error, so that, as confessed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the maritime strategy of the biggest naval power in the world has changed,” following Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s comments at his confirmation hearing.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized excessive focus on “cultural and political independence” to the detriment of achieving economic independence, warning that such a focus would result in “damage” to it. He also indicated that the concepts of the Islamic Revolution are “still the same, but have become a bit more complex.”  

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denied reports from the Wall Street Journal that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote to President Obama “in recent weeks.”

 

Official Statements

  • Rouhani discusses restructuring Iranian space program. At a February 17 event celebrating Space Technology Day, President Hassan Rouhani noted that his administration realized that “unwanted changes occur structurally in the problem of aerospace science…. We saw that many of the scientific centers must be under direct supervision, to better develop; for this reason, we have placed the Space Agency and its corresponding research center in the Ministry of Communications.” Rouhani also noted:
    • “The nation of Iran and our scientists and researchers in the universities and research centers and the industry and satellite sectors are determined to take on crucial decisions for progress and for control of this technology.”
    • Rouhani also noted that during his administration, Iran “has made very significant advances in the nuclear field; however, the negotiations are tumultuous, and overshadow these [nuclear] activities; otherwise, we are operating with greater momentum.  (Fars News Agency)
  • Iran’s space program to transition from experimental stage to pursue tangible results. The Minister of Communications and Information Technology announced that the space program’s first 10-year development plan has reached the end of its testing stage and the second 10-year (development) plan has begun to implement more applied uses of space technology. Mahmoud Vaezi stressed that Iran must have its own “national and specific satellite”; hence the construction and launch of satellites will be pursued seriously in the second 10-year phase. (Fars News Agency)
  • Ali Larijani: “‘resistance economy’ doesn’t mean doors to the country close.” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated, “The ‘resistance economy’ does not mean the doors of the country close, and sometimes it is believed that politics of [the resistance economy] were written because of sanctions.” He also stated, “It was proposed in some intellectual areas that the notions of the Islamic Revolution have been empty of meaning; the concepts are still the same, but have become a bit more complex.” Larijani encouraged a greater focus on achieving economic independence, arguing that “… if we pay the same amount of attention to cultural and political independence and do not pay attention to economic independence, we can damage both of these previous fields [of political and cultural independence].” Larijani also noted that “It is very important that experts are present in the decision-making system, and the government itself is not sufficient, and always needs help from universities.” Larijani highlighted that “the majority of the provisions of the policies of the resistance economy are applicable, and only need unity of wills and analyses…” (Fars News Agency)
  • Foreign Ministry: the Supreme Leader did not write President Obama. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denied reports from the Wall Street Journal that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote to President Obama “in recent weeks.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Supreme Leader sends letter of thanks to Majles for implementing new statutes for passive defense. In an open session, a Member of Parliament read the Supreme Leader’s letter of appreciation for the adoption of new statutes concerning the passive defense organization and for opening up a new chapter for the role of the organization in society and the regime. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Jazayeri: Armed Forces will stay out of politics. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri commenting on the adoption of a resolution by the Expediency Council barring the armed services from entering politics or supporting specific candidates stated that “the armed forces have refrained from entering Iranian politics in accordance with the framework laid out by the Supreme Leader” and that this was not a “new issue.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Cultural Deputy added that increasing political, social, and cultural knowledge was always on the agenda of the armed forces in order to adequately defend the Islamic Revolution. According to Jazayeri, the armed services have served as the guardian of the popular vote in previous elections. (Defa Press)

 

Military and Security

  • Manned spacecraft prototype unveiled. Tasnim News Agency noted that “…according to reports, the spacecraft is scheduled to be launched into orbit next year.”  (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Salami: Because of Iranian ballistic missiles, “American maritime strategy…has changed.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami stated, “Our ballistic missiles hit the enemy vessels at sea with zero error, so that, as confessed by the US Secretary of Defense, the maritime strategy of the biggest naval power in the world has changed.” The Deputy Commander of the IRGC also stated, “Today, our missile reserves are so full of missiles that space to keep them may be faced with a shortage.”  (Tasnim News Agency
  • Brig. Gen. Mousavi: implementing the measures of Commander of the Armed Forces has brought pride to the Air Force. Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahim Mousavi stated that measures imposed by the Commander of the Armed Forces were the main reason for the survival, growth and development of the Air Force at the unveiling ceremony of a book entitled “Onto the Peaks”. The Deputy Commander of the Artesh, referring to the country’s military capabilities to deal with potential threats, said, “The Islamic Republic has the power to resist the enemy and even has the weapons needed to hit the enemy.” He also said that the Islamic Republic has supremacy in the field of soft power, which has helped deter the enemy from invading Iran. (Defa Press)

Nuclear Talks

  • Naghavi Hosseini: The West is not seeking an agreement. MP Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said that European and American governments are not seeking an agreement, using the sanctioning of the National Iranian Tanker Company as evidence. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Spokesman highlighted that the P5+1 countries had previously pledged “not to expand or impose new individual or collective sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the terms are final.” He added that the Americans had claimed several times in Geneva that there would be no new sanctions, and Western powers are looking for excuses to withdraw from the negotiations. (Fars News Agency)

By AEI Critical Threat