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 IRGC conducted large-scale military exercises in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, maneuvering speedboats against a mock US carrier, while IRGC Commanders highlighted the regime’s advanced missiles capabilities.
The IRGC kicked off the Great Prophet 9 multi-service exercises, showcasing its latest missile achievements, test firing coast-to-sea and surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. The drills also featured other military hardware, including naval speedboats equipped with radars, cruise missiles, sea mines, heavy machine guns, UAVs, helicopters, and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.
IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami said that the exercises show that the IRGC defense capabilities are proportional to the enemies’ capacity. IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, “The area of the Sea of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Persian Gulf are under the full control of the IRGC Navy.” IRGC Navy Commander Brig. General Ali Fadavi, meanwhile, touted the regime’s naval strength, claiming that it has the conventional wherewithal to, not only counter America’s presence in the Gulf, but it can also sink US carriers. The large-scale drills reaffirm the regime’s commitment to continue to advance its conventional forces, notwithstanding Tehran’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with the P5+1.
- Ali Larijani dismisses the efficacy of Western warships in changing regional conditions.Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani censured the West for its naval presence in the Middle East and said that there is no need for their vessels, because the IRGC Navy is more than capable of securing the region’s waterways. Larijani added: “The big powers should know that they cannot change the conditions of the region by increasing the number of their warships.” (Fars News Agency)
- Iran says Washington Post report is based on unsubstantiated allegations. Iran’s mission at the UN dismissed yesterday’s publication by the Washington Post, claiming Tehran is conducting secret nuclear weapons research in breach of its commitment to the P5+1 and IAEA. Tehran said that the charges are baseless, adding: “It’s a pity that the newspaper has published the false and repetitious claims raised by a terrorist group [National Council of Resistance of Iran] whose inhumane nature is clear to all, particularly to the American public opinion, and the falsehood of that group’s previous claims have been made public after a while.” (Mashregh News)
- Tehran rejects Secretary Kerry’s remarks on Yemen’s political crisis. Marzieh Afkham responded to Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that Iran intervened in Yemen, leading to the dissolution of the central government in Sana’a. The Foreign Ministry Spokesman stated: “Iran’s principled view is that the self-determination of nations is in their hands. All sides should allow the Yemeni nation to determine the country’s fate by itself; and all mechanisms should be based on the people’s will and demands.” (Mehr News)
- Fadavi: IRGC conducted its largest IRGC multi-service drill. Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi stated that a multi-service drill titled “Great Prophet 9”, targeting a replica of an aircraft carrier, tested the IRGC Navy’s capabilities. The IRGC Navy Commander said that on the first day of the exercise, 5 core maritime capabilities were tested including maritime and airborne units, UAVs, coast-to-sea missiles, and special operations. It was the largest floating parade of naval vessels performed by the IRGC and featured a variety of vessels equipped with missile and rocket launchers, helicopters, and sea-to-land rocket launchers. Fadavi continued “In today’s exercise cruise and ballistic missiles were used against targets.” (Mashregh News)
- Salami: Iran’s defense capabilities have become dynamic and transformative. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said that the Great Prophet 9 exercises, that took place in the Persian Gulf, displayed the quantity and quality of the IRGC’s defense capabilities and showed that they are proportional to the enemies’ capabilities. Salami added that “the capabilities of land to sea and sea to sea missiles, sea mines, and the IRGC Naval Force’s air capabilities are not limited to an operational radius,” emphasizing that, “the deployment of equipment, such as, short-range precision missiles, do not negatively affect the Navy’s capabilities.” Salami concluded that the exercises displayed the combined determination and power, which are the foundation of “our strategy.” (Sepah News)
- Jafari: Complete domination of the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said that the purpose of the Great Prophet 9 exercise was to provide security to vessels in the Persian Gulf region and to serve as a deterrent to enemies. Jafari said, “The area of the Sea of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Persian Gulf are under the full control of the IRGC Navy.” He added that, “with the indigenous weapons and advanced technology of the IRGC’s Naval and Aerospace Force, the goal of focusing attacks on enemy ships was reached.” He expressed hope that the exercises would create unity and harmony among regional countries and that enemies would leave the region and regional security would be reestablished. Jafari said that the next phase of IRGC Naval and Aerospace exercises focusing on ground tactics will begin Thursday. (Sepah News)
- Nobakht: We have until March 31 to reach a final nuclear deal. Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said, “We are constrained by time to reach a final deal with the P5+1 by March 31,” after a cabinet meeting also attended by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi. (IRNA)
- Firouzabadi praised the Supreme Leader’s insistence on the creation of a “reserve currency fund.” On the sidelines of the Third Congress on Security and Inspection of the Armed Forces, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said that the creation of a “currency reserve fund” was necessary to achieve the goals of the resistance economy and investment in the diversification of the economy away from oil. (Sepah News)
Military and Security
- Multi-service Great Prophet 9 Exercises kick off in the Persian Gulf. IRGC ground, naval and aerospace forces are participating in the Great Prophet 9 [Payambar-e Azam 9] exercises, which began today in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz; missile capabilities, naval and also ground combat tactics are being exhibited.” “The latest achievements of IRGC missiles” will also be exhibited in the exercise. “IRGC speed boats have also been deployed in the area of the exercise.” “…On Tuesday, patrol, reconnaissance, and intelligence chiefs operations were accepted, and today naval and missile operations will be performed today.” “Tomorrow the IRGC Ground Forces will face their forecasted missions.” The “naval phase of the exercise will take place under the influence of ‘Khatam 2 Camp’ at Camp 9,” and the “ground phase will be run also under the influence of Camp Medina.”
- Major figures “present in the public areas of the exercise” include “Armed Forces General Staff Deputy IRGC Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Head of the Military Command Office of the Supreme Leader IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Shirazi, Iranian Armed Forces General Staff Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, IRGC Ground Forces Commander Mohammad Pakpour, IRGC Aerospace Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajjizadeh, IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi, and IRIB Deputy Payman Jabali. (Defa Press)
- The IRGC Navy Bell 206 and Meel 17 helicopters fired coastal defense missiles [lit: “smart,” “beach to sea” and “sea to sea”] missiles. The helicopters were purportedly targeting a “replica transnational aircraft carrier.” (Defa Press)
- Fateh 110 and Zalzal missiles were also “…fired against fixed ground targets on an uninhabited island at a distance of 270 kilometers.” (Fars News Agency)
- “50 vehicles carrying costal defense Persian Gulf missiles and also some F-4 fighters marched on Larak Island.” “The Persian Gulf costal defense missile is a ballistic anti-ship missile which can hit fixed and moving maritime targets at a range of 300 kilometers at high precision.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Soleimani and Moghaddam honored at security conference. Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and martyred former IRGC Commander Brig. Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam were honored at the Third Congress on the Safety and Inspection of the Armed Forces for their adherence to the principles of safety and security. (Defa Press)
- Rouhani attends opening ceremony for the first segment of the freeway project “Shrine to Shrine.” President Hassan Rouhani applauded his government’s privatization efforts and said, “the private sector must find its way into all spheres,” adding that, the private sector must feel that everyone supports it and that banks, which haven’t yet achieved the optimal speed to deal with the private sector, must become involved. Rouhani added that, in order to achieve independence and economic prosperity, public welfare and youth employment, there is no other choice but to develop, and this development must be comprehensive and must include all economic, cultural, political, and social dimensions. Rouhani also highlighted the efforts of the Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base during the sacred defense [Iran-Iraq war] as well as during his tenure as Head of the base and said that, in time of peace, these efforts must be remembered and appreciated. (President.ir)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Boroujerdi discusses regional developments with Jordanian ambassador. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi met with Jordan’s Ambassador to Tehran Suleiman Abdullah Abu Roman to promote enhanced bilateral ties. The National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Chairman stressed the importance of regional cooperation to combat terrorism: “The world and the Middle East face the dangerous and expanding phenomenon of terrorism.” Boroujerdi also criticized the US for exacerbating regional unrest and said, “The division of good and bad terrorists by America will lead to global insecurity.” (Tasnim News Agency)