Iran news round up – March 17, 2015

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: The third day of U.S.-Iran talks took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. President Rouhani stated that the inauguration of phase 12 of the South Pars gas field indicates that sanctions did not pressure Iran to the nuclear negotiations table.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the third day of U.S.-Iran talks in Lausanne, Switzerland. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Head Ali Akbar Salehi also met with the foreign ministers of France, England, and Germany in Brussels. Salehi expressed hope that two “remaining” issues would be resolved this week before the current round of U.S.-Iran talks concludes on March 20. National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi stated, “Achieving an agreement in this round of talks between Iran and the West is more likely than in the past.”

President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated phase 12 of the South Pars gas field development project, insisting that the phase shows Iran did not join the nuclear negotiations due to sanctions-related pressure. While regime officials have admitted that sanctions have pressured the Iranian economy, they have consistently held sanctions did not force Iran into the negotiations. 

 

Nuclear Talks

  • Zarif and Kerry attend third day of U.S.-Iran talks. Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the third day of bilateral negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland. They were joined by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi, Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernst Muniz, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman. (ISNA)
  • Iran-EU nuclear negotiations in Brussels. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi met with the foreign ministers and their deputies from France, England, and Germany, in Belgium. EU Foreign Policy Chief Frederica Mogherini hosted the meeting. The negotiating countries emphasized the need to close gaps and achieve an agreement. Prior to the meeting, Foreign Minister Zarif met with his British counterpart Philip Hammond to discuss recent regional developments and the process of the nuclear negotiations. Hammond and Zarif stressed the importance of increased consultations between Iran and the EU. (IRNA)
  • AEOI Head Salehi: Working to resolve remaining two issues before Friday. Ali Akbar Salehi expressed hope that two “remaining” issues would be resolved as nuclear negotiations continue until Friday March 20. (Mehr News)
  • Boroujerdi: “achieving an agreement in this round…is more likely than in the past.” The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi stated, “A good agreement involves the national interest.” Boroujerdi added: “Achieving an agreement in this round of talks between Iran and the West is more likely than in the past.” Boroujerdi also said that “March 24, Congress is planning to approve new sanctions against Iran, and new sanctions are a violation of the Geneva agreement [November 2013 Joint Plan of Action].” Noting “…that violations of the Geneva agreement will weaken the basis of negotiations,” Boroujerdi stated, “this is the reason why the Americans and the P5+1 are trying to reach an agreement soon.” (Mehr News )

 

Official Statements

  • Rouhani attends South Pars gas project inauguration ceremony. President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated phase 12 of the South Pars gas project on March 17. Rouhani stated:
    • “The inauguration of phase 12 of the South Pars showed that sanctions have not made us take part in the negotiations, otherwise, such plans could have never come into operation; everyone can see that we have managed to implement such big plans under sanctions.”
    • “The reason for negotiations is our reliance on logic and attainment of mutual interests and if the negotiations produce results, they will benefit the region, the world and the P5+1. We are doing something that serves the interests of all.”
    • “The inauguration of this great project we declare to the world that the period of pressure through sanctions has ended.” (Rouhani.ir)
  • Assailants identified in attack on Parliamentarian Ali Motahari. Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari said that after a two-day visit to Shiraz at the behest of President Rouhani, the interior minister had “identified more than 10 of the perpetrators” involved in the March 7 attack on Parliamentarian Ali Motahari’s car. Motahari was on his way to deliver a speech at a university in Shiraz when the attack occurred. (Fars News Agency)

 

 

Economy

  • Larijani announces approved budget to Rouhani. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani notified President Hassan Rouhani that this upcoming fiscal year’s budget bill, after approval by the Parliament and the Guardian Council, was submitted to Parliament for implementation. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Oil Minister: South Pars gas project is Iran’s message to world powers. Bijan Namdar Zanganeh called the inauguration of the South Pars phase 12 project a clear message to the P5+1 that sanction will not stop Iran’s oil industry. He added: “…current sanctions against Iran are cruel and have trampled upon the rights of the Iranian nation.” The Oil Minister said that constructing phase 12 cost $7.5 billion and that it can produce 80 million cubic meters of gas and 120,000 barrels of gas condensates on a daily basis. (Mashregh News)

 

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Abdollahian and Omani Foreign Minister discuss political crisis in Yemen. Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Muscat, Oman on March 16. Abdollahian stressed the need for inclusive dialogue to help resolve “complicated” issues in Yemen. The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister added:
    • “We believe that all sides in the region must avoid measures that intensify extremism. Nowadays, campaign against terrorism and extremism together with the unity of the Muslim world are regarded a necessity. Therefore, Ansar Allah’s battle against al Qaeda and ISIS takfiri groups in Yemen is praiseworthy.” (YJC)

By AEI Critical Threat