Iran news round up – April 13, 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: Ali Larijani indicated that the negotiating team is “considering the specified redlines” of immediate removal of sanctions as part of a final nuclear deal. IRGC Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari disparaged Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s critique of the judicial system.

Regarding the complete and immediate removal of all sanctions as part of a final nuclear deal, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated that the “negotiators have understood… the concerns of the critics of the nuclear negotiations, and are considering the specified redlines.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and numerous other regime officials have forcefully reiterated immediate sanctions removal in particular as a redline after the P5+1 and Iran reached the political framework agreement on April 2. Larijani’s comments may reflect the leadership’s internal efforts to adjust its strategy for the next round of negotiations, given the debate over the seeming incompatibility between Iran’s and the P5+1’s statements on sanctions relief.

Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticized the judicial system and treatment of prisoners in Iran and called for improved women’s and judicial rights. IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari responded to Rafsanjani’s comments, stating “When the Islamic regime wants to [administer] justice… it is clear that the voice of justice and oppression from those who are at risk of prosecution along with their dependents becomes loud.” Jafari is likely referring to Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month on security-related offenses and financial charges. Senior prosecutor Hojjat al Eslam Mohseni Ezhehi also argued that if there is no documentation to substantiate Rafsanjani’s claims, they may be an attempt incite public opinion against the judiciary system.

Official Statements

  • Rouhani: “we have essential problems in our economic and administrative structure.”Addressing a joint Parliament-government meeting on April 12, President Hassan Rouhani discussed the country’s economic situation:
    • “We of the government and the Parliament must completely focus on not placing a new burden on the shoulders of the executive, so that the country is managed according to the view…of the people and the consent of God.”
    • “Although we have almost passed through the recession, if you want to see a prosperous country, we need to attract foreign and domestic investments; on the other hand, we must consider the transfer of technology, and focus on non-oil exports.”
    • “In addition to the shadow of sanctions on the economy, we have other problems. Each time oil revenues have been good, the country’s economy has suffered from unsteady imports; after that period in the periods such as we have encountered like the decline in oil revenues, problems are doubled.  On the other hand, we have essential problems in our country’s economic and administrative structure, which cannot be resolved in the short term.”
    • “During the approximately 20 months which have passed since the beginning of the 11th government [Rouhani’s administration], we have had good success in the economic sphere and have been able to significantly reduce inflation.”
    • “Of course, from here onwards the disinflation process will be slower, because we have reached the core of this [process]; but to continue this trend from the past…we need hearts, hands and tongues.” (President.ir)
  • Jafari highlights the “increasing role of the IRGC in various fields.” IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated, “The capacity, quality, and increasing role of the IRGC in various fields in the mission of defending the Islamic Revolution and system is a decisive role – which friends and enemies admit it; also, according to the emphasis which the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] put on the qualitative and quantitative development of the IRGC and the transformative and internal aspects of it in the better implementation of the missions, updated services to personnel can play an important role in this regard.” (Sepah News)
  • Rafsanjani: Rouhani is “truly devoted to the Revolution, the country, and the people.”During a meeting with Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs Director Hojjat al Eslam Mohammad Ali Shahidi Mahallati, Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated, “Mr. Rouhani and his cabinet are truly devoted to the Revolution, the country, and the people, and in this respect, a great space has been placed at your disposal, which opportunity you should take to rectify the situation of the Foundation and address the problems of the dear families of the martyrs, prisoners of war, and veterans.” Rafsanjani also emphasized the importance of “keeping the memory of the martyrs alive, and above all preserving their values and aspirations.”  (Fars News Agency)
  • Ali Larijani: we are reviewing the immediate sanctions relief redline in the negotiations. At a joint Parliament-government meeting, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed the removal of sanctions simultaneously with the implementation of a final nuclear deal, stating “The negotiators have understood and [currently] understand the concerns of the critics of the nuclear negotiations, and are considering the specified redlines.” Larijani also stated, “On the international and regional scene, some are…driving differences between Iran and other Islamic countries and neighbors, and make a false aura in order to create an international consensus against Iran.” He continued, “One of the achievements of the nuclear negotiations is eliminating the false aura of the international consensus; with the strength and success in the negotiations, greater benefits will be provided to the country.”
    • Larijani also stated, “Because of the characteristics of the inspiration of the Revolution, Iran has made good progress in the area, and the place of the country has caused the envy of some of the other actors; but we must try to take steps to strengthen the economy simultaneously with this progress, so that the country achieves [to] the status of all-around development which is the intention of the revolution.”  (Mehr News)
  • Rezaei emphasizes urgent end to Saudi abuse in Yemen. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, referring to Saudi airstrikes on Yemen said, “Not only are [Saudi Arabia’s actions] un-Islamic and non-Arab, they are Zionist, and Saudi Arabia should leave Yemen immediately…” (Tabnak)
  • Hardliner Parliamentarian supports nuclear negotiating team. Head of the Parliament’s Principilist faction Gholam Ali Haddad Adel expressed anxiety and concern in regards to the nuclear negotiations due to the importance of the issue but stated, “We trust the negotiating team.” He added that the issue could maintain national unity, empathy, compassion, dialogue, and listening to constructive criticism. He also stressed the immediate removal of sanctions in conjunction with the signing of a final deal, and voiced the Parliament’s support of Tehran’s position on Yemen. (Mehr News) 

 

 

Domestic Politics

  • Shahroudi appointed Head Secretariat of the Assembly of Experts. Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi appointed Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi Head Secretariat of the Assembly on April 13. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Rafsanjani calls for improved women’s and judicial rights. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressed the Lady of the Revolution Conference on April 12. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary praised the late Imam Khomeini’s deceased wife Khadijah Saghafi for her strong support of the 1979 Revolution and said, “Until now we have not been able to place women in real positions. It is our duty to place half of the population who are still oppressed in real positions.” Rafsanjani stated that if a country defeats tyranny, colonialism, and the people are present in the frontline, it will not be defeated. Rafsanjani referred to Khomeini’s view on voting: “the people’s vote is the people’s right.” Rafsanjani then said, “So why all the misery when these women come out…?” Rafsanjani also implicitly criticized the judicial system and the treatment of prisoners in Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • IRGC Commander takes rhetorical shot at Rafsanjani. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari responded to Rafsanjani’s criticism of the judicial system and said, “When the Islamic regime wants to [administer] justice… it is clear that the voice of justice and oppression from those who are at risk of prosecution along with their dependents [Jafari may be referring to Rafsanjani’s son Mehdi], becomes loud. They want to change the place of justice and injustice.” The IRGC Commander continued by saying that everyone is equal before the law. (Tabnak)
  • Senior prosecutor responds to Rafsanjani’s remarks. Hojjat al-Eslam Mohseni Ezhehi stated that if there is no documentation to substantiate Rafsanjani’s claims, then it seems to be an attempt to incite public opinion through defamatory assertions. The First Deputy Prosecutor added that if anyone has committed such violations, they will be dealt with.(YJC)

 

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Salehi promotes increased Tehran-Moscow nuclear cooperation. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi met with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s advisor Andrei Fusenko in Tehran and discussed education, science, and increased cooperation in the nuclear science field. Salehi said relations between the two countries have seen a significant growth, particularly over the past year. Fusenko said he hoped to accelerate increasing collaboration between the two countries in areas such as, lasers and their applications, nuclear medicine, materials science, cyclotrons, reactors, mathematics, and the use of super-rayons. (IRNA)
  • Defense Minister invited to security conference in Moscow. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan received a formal invitation from his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to speak at the International Security Conference on April 16 and 17, in Moscow. (YJC)
  • Shamkhani highlights growing Tehran-Moscow partnership. Ali Shamkhani met with Russia’s Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow. The Supreme National Security Council Secretary pointed to Iran-Russia collaboration efforts and said, “The principled policy of the two countries in enhancing regional cooperation and balancing the transferable capacities in the diverse political, economic and security spheres has had a decisive role in the management of security crises across the region.” Shamkhani also criticized the West for exacerbating regional crises, stating: “The worrisome spread of security crises and institutionalization of violence and extremism have necessitated the active and balancing role of the independent countries more than ever.” (YJC)
  • Foreign Minister visits Kazakhstan. Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to Kazakhstan, discussed the nuclear negotiations and praised the Iranian people for their patience in standing up to pressures and sanctions against the country. He stressed that in the negotiations, “We accepted some views and wishes, of course, within our principles, and that did not go against our national interests.” He added that the Supreme Leader’s resistance economy led to the removal of sanctions. He said, “The lifting of sanctions will solve many problems, however, we should not just wait for the sanctions to be lifted, we should make them an ineffective tool.” Zarif also emphasized regional cooperation and said, “Over the last year and a half we [Iran] have tried to remove obstacles in order to have a sensible relationship with the world and the region.” (Mehr News)

 

 

Military and Security

  • Artesh to unveil new military equipment. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said new achievements in various ground, air and sea defense areas will be unveiled in the coming days. Pourdastan disclosed some of the military advancements including, a wheeled tank destroyer with a 90-mm caliber gun, an armed remote control robot capable of carrying two defensive and anti-armor missiles and 600kg of cargo, a tactical audio-tracking vehicle, a new 23-mm rifle, and a Shaher sniper. Pourdastan also announced that ground testing of drones had been successful and aerial testing would be carried out. He added that soon UAVs would be armed with missiles and rockets. (Defa Press)
  • Iran planning to unveil ‘Bavar-373’ air defense system by next year. Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili announced that Iran will unveil its latest missile, radar, and electronic warfare systems on April 18. The Khatam al Anbia Air Defense Base Commander also said that the indigenous made ‘Bavar-373’ air defense system, modeled after Russia’s S-300 should be ready by next year. (Defa Press)
  • Aerospace Research Institute builds two new space probes. The Ministry of Education’s Aerospace Research Institute Executive Vice President Mohammad Ali Farsi stated, “The probe-making project was launched in [13]83 [2004-2005], and the two probes ‘Tir’ and ‘Mehr’ were made as a continuation of this project.” He stated, “The two probes are now ready, and if it is set, we would be ready within a month or two to provide operational examples of these two probes.” ISNA indicated that, “Iran has launched eight probes into space, six of which launches have been successful.” (ISNA)

 

 

Nuclear Talks

  • Baeidinejad: all sanctions will be removed once final nuclear agreement is signed. Senior nuclear negotiator Hamid Baeidinejad stated, “All nuclear sanctions will be terminated on the first day that final nuclear deal comes into effect.” The Foreign Ministry’s Director for Political and International Affairs added that Iran will not agree to any deal that does not remove and stop the implementation of sanctions. Baeidinejad also reiterated that the regime’s defense capabilities are non-negotiable. (Tasnim News Agency)

By AEI Critical Threat