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 wrapped up its large-scale military drills with a combined air-naval-ground exercise in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, while Hossein Hamedani warned the US against acting on its military options. Senior clerics praised President Rouhani for his extensive consultations with religious authorities in Qom.
The three-day IRGC Great Prophet 9 military exercises ended today with a series of multi-service mobility and counter-mobility operations. IRGC Navy Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi said that a “new strategic” weapon was tested today, adding: “…this new weapon has a very determining role in boosting our naval power to counter the threats against the Islamic Revolution, specifically [threats posed by] the Great Satan, America.” IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, meanwhile, warned the US against exercising its military option, because “…it [US] will be faced with a firm and sturdy answer from the Iranian military forces.”
Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat al Eslam Kazem Sadeghi thanked President Hassan Rouhani for articulating a “promising” position regarding the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. Rouhani traveled to Qom on February 25 and had a series of meetings with senior clerics about his administration’s domestic and foreign policies, specifically the ongoing nuclear negotiations. Rouhani is cognizant of the concerns shared by the religious authorities; therefore his trip underscores a concerted effort to gain support for the nuclear talks, which was expressed by Sadeghi.
- Interior Minister warns that dirty money entering politics should be taken seriously. Head of the Parliament’s Principilist faction Gholam Ali Haddad Adel stated that the issue of Interior Minister Adbol Reza Rahman’s earlier remarks on “dirty money” entering politics must be addressed before “dirty money” is brought in from everywhere. (Mehr News)
- Boroujerdi: We must be in a place to mutually sanction the West. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi reiterated the Supreme Leader’s statement, claiming that Iran can sanction the West and that its hands are not tied. Answering a question on reciprocal sanctions on Europe, the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman said that, while Iran does not have gas contracts with European states, sanctions can be an effective countermeasure at a time when Europe needs gas imports. (Mehr News)
- Hamedani: An American attack would be met with a strong Iranian response. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani stated, “America does not doubt, [plans] of a military attack on Iran, about which it murmurs, [that] if it becomes operational, [it] will be faced with a firm and sturdy answer from the Iranian military forces.” The former IRGC Mohammad Rasoul Allah unit of Greater Tehran stated, “Publically and specifically, Imam Khomeini has called America the Great Satan; this must always be considered important.” He also said, “Through an economic blockade [sanctions], the enemies will never keep the nation of Iran away from its beliefs and ideals.” (Fars News Agency)
- Sadeghi thanks President Rouhani for his stance on negotiations. Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat al-Eslam Kazem Sadeghi thanked President Hassan Rouhani, who he said “expressed and stated a bright and promising position [on the nuclear negotiations], that Iran will not accept humiliation, shut down and the continuation of sanctions.” Sadeghi also emphasized that Westerners “have not right to interfere in our internal affairs” and “cannot decide” Iran’s oil production rate. (IRNA)
- Qom Friday Prayer Leader praises Rouhani visit. Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Reza Arafi also praised Rouhani’s visit to Qom, saying that it “provides further ground for interaction and empathy between the government and the origin of the revolution and religious scholars more than ever.” Arafi stated, “I hope that during planning, the government will pay attention to the reminders and care of the marjaia [Shi’a religious leaders] in cultural, social, and political attention.” (IRIB)
- Tehran warns against disintegration of Yemen. Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that the disintegration of Yemen would not benefit any country in the region. The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister added: “Parties seeking to impose a civil war in Yemen from [the southern city] Aden should heed [the warning] not to make a strategic miscalculation. The people and leaders of Yemen would not allow their united country to turn into another Somalia or Libya.” (Tabnak)
- “Islamic Awakening is the intellectual product of the Islamic Revolution.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan attributed the Islamic Awakening to the Iran-Iraq War and stated that, “the Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq War] was a reflection of the presence of the nation in the defense of the valuable foundation of the Islamic Republic”, adding that, “at that time, no one was after a name or title [for themselves], but rather all sought to undertake the work of protecting the privacy and teachings of this sacred land.” The Defense Minister also noted that respect for human lives over material and labor for the sake of God were two important factors in Iran’s victory during the war and the Revolution. (Defa Press)
Military and Security
- IRGC wraps up large-scale military drills. The third day of the IRGC Great Prophet 9 military exercises involved naval, ground, and airborne forces and took place in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi announced that the naval forces tested a “new strategic” weapon. Fadavi added: “The coming into service of this new weapon has a very determining role in boosting our naval power to counter the threats against the Islamic Revolution, specifically [threats posed by] the Great Satan, America.” (Sepah News)
- First stage of Bushehr radiation exercises. IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, Head of the Passive Defense Organization said that the 2-day Bushehr nuclear site drills, which are scheduled to begin today are designed to address potential threats and to enhance preparedness, emphasizing that it does not imply increased risk to the plant. The drills, that are intended to address potential radiation leaks, accidents, and injuries, are in compliance with the nuclear negotiations. The exercises will begin with a discussion with base staff, then will move to Bushehr’s urban areas, addressing a hypothetical leak, and then finally, members of joint organizations will discuss implementation of quick response plans. Also, since the base became operational, the organization staged two drills in Esfahan and Markazi province. Jalali added that neighboring countries had been informed of the nuclear plant exercises. (Tasnim News Agency)
- 33rd Fleet docks in Jakarta. The 33rd Artesh Navy Fleet, comprised of the destroyer Naqdi and logistics warship Bandar Abbas, arrived in Tanjung Priok Port this morning. The Fleet began its journey in late January, crossing the equator and stopping in Sri Lanka. (Fars News Agency)
- Next round of nuclear negotiations will start next week. Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to start on March 5 in Monteux, Switzerland. EU Spokeswoman Catherine Ray announced that a series of bilateral meetings will take place prior to Thursday’s high-level negotiations. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Salehi: technical talks must safeguard Iran’s rights. Ali Akbar Salehi said that in recent talks with the US Secretary of Energy in Geneva, “we reviewed technical issues that have created a deadlock.” The Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran added, “Fortunately, we obtained very good results, and we took long steps, but of course, there are still issues that need to be discussed.” “In technical negotiations we should try to safeguard our interests as well as resolve the other side’s fabricated technical concerns,” said Salehi. Salehi also said that innovative small reactor development strategies in countries are a low investment and yield a high profitability, adding that the US Secretary of State said that the US has similar strategies. (ABNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Muqtada al Sadr attends Sadegh Tabatabaei’s memorial service in Iran. Iraq’s Sadrist Movement Leader, Muqtada al Sadr attended a memorial service for Sadegh Tabatabei. Tabatabei passed away last week; he was regarded as veteran of the Revolution and a close friend of Ayatollah Khomeini. (Fars News Agency)