Iran news round up – April 28, 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. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online

Key takeaway: Hassan Rouhani expressed confidence that sanctions would soon be removed. Major General Hassan Firouzabadi dismissed U.S. allegations that Iran is shipping arms to Yemen. The Artesh Navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Addressing a large gathering at a ceremony thanking Iran’s working class, President Hassan Rouhani stated that, “the first step to solving fundamental problems” in Iran is the “resolution” of the “nuclear issue,” because many of the West’s sanctions against Iran are nuclear-based. Rouhani also expressed confidence that sanctions would soon be lifted, claiming, “…sanctions brokers are thinking about another job.”

When asked about “the Supreme Leader’s order to publish an Iranian [political framework] fact sheet,” Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani responded, “Orders, demands, and recommendations are different…Today, we have passed a fact sheet.” Shamkhani and other officials may be looking to downplay domestic concerns over an Iranian fact sheet to focus on issues of greater concern to the regime, such as sanctions removal.  

Shamkhani also characterized recent presence of Iranian cargo ships and Artesh Navy vessels as routine and “based on a timetable.” Armed Force General Staff (AFGS) Headquarters Chief Major General Hassan Firouzabadi also dismissed U.S. and Saudi allegations that Iran is shipping arms to Yemen, stating: “Iran has not entered the territorial waters of Yemen; however, [the Artesh Navy] fleet patrols the international waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Sea of Oman…” Also, an informed Iranian source speaking to Fars News Agency confirmed previous reports that the Artesh Navy seized Marshall Islands-flagged ship MV Maersk Tigris in the Strait of Hormuz.

IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani addressed a general assembly of conservative Parliamentarians on the regional developments on April 28. Soleimani said the situation in Syria has improved, stating “Today is better than a few years ago.”

Official Statements

  • Rouhani: sanctions brokers will soon be out of a job. At the 26th National Congress of “Gratitude to the Society for its Work and Production,” President Hassan Rouhani discussed sanctions removal, country-government cooperation in economic improvements, and the resistance economy. He stated:
    • On sanctions and the nuclear issue: “The nuclear issue and its resolution is the first step to solving fundamental problems, because the enemy has created two problems for our country, unjustly.”
    • “In the first phase, the ill-wishers of this nation accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, and based on these false charges, created misleading mechanisms in order to disrupt the banking and export system and in total, the path to development for Iran.”
    • “We want to prove to the world that the ill-wishers lied to the world that Iran is seeking to build atomic weapons… Iran has sought and is seeking peaceful nuclear technology; our next goal is the resolution of problems and difficulties which have created rancor before the feet of our nation.”
    • “The P5+1 knows that the nation and government of Iran are together and are supporting one another; anyone in the world cannot continue to put pressure on Iran in the months and years to come.”
    •  “The sanctions organization is now in complete collapse; with the guidance of the Supreme Leader and the support of the people, we will continue on the way of constructive interaction with the world; sanctions brokers are thinking about another job.”
    • On national unity and the economy: “Entrepreneurs, workers, and the government must be placed in a single line, so that the country travels the path of sustainable development faster.”
    • “The government and the nation must expand development and production…working side by side in the work atmosphere…”
    • “Growth is dependent on work ethic… we must make space to attract investment and technology in this country.”
    • On the resistance economy: “The oil economy must be moved towards the ‘resistance economy’; we must stand on our own feet; new technology in this country could become a commercial brand.” (President.ir)
  • Shamkhani discusses Iranian maritime presence in the Gulf of Aden and an Iranian fact sheet. Ali Shamkhani discussed the Supreme Leader’s order to publish an Iranian nuclear fact sheet. The Supreme National Security Council Secretary stated, “Orders, demands, and recommendations are different. In addition, it appears time has not had influence on this affair.”  Shamkhani also stated, “Today, we have passed a fact sheet. Our topic today is the removal of many uncertainties concerning sanctions…”
    • On Iran’s presence in the Gulf of Aden: “Naturally, the transmission from source to destination and return was conducted based on a timetable; there are still a portion of Iranian vessels in the region.”
    • When asked about “Saudis dropping leaflets….stating, ‘these attacks are to counter Iranian influence,’” Shamkhani stated, “this was a trick Western governments used during the Cold War to scare people; wherever there were liberation movements, they dropped the papers…Now, Saudi Arabia’s action repeats failed Western doctrine…” Shamkhani continued, “The appropriate time for an appropriate response is still not completed…”(IRNA)
  • Firouzabadi: Saudis deserve stiff punishment for airstrikes in Yemen. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated, “The Saudi crimes against the…oppressed people of Yemen who are calling for an independent and Islamic democracy are…deserving of punishment.” The AFGS Headquarters Chief stated, “Unfortunately, the UN Security Council, America, and Britain are clearly violating the legal rights of the Yemeni people… and have killed and displaced…Muslim women and children… even the Security Council resolution disrupted humanitarian assistance to the injured and displaced…” Firouzabadi stated, “Are the Saudis going to answer to lawyers and the free people of the world for their incalculable crimes? …Al Saud knows that the government can be sustained by heresy, but oppression cannot survive.” Firouzabadi dismissed U.S. and Saudi allegations that Iran is shipping arms to Yemen, stating:
    • Iran has not entered the territorial waters of Yemen; however, [the Artesh Navy] fleet patrols the international waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Sea of Oman…” (Defa Press)

 

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Soleimani addresses general assembly of conservative Parliamentarians. IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani attended a general assembly held by the Faction of Velayat Followers and the Principilist Faction of Parliament. Soleimani discussed the latest developments in the region, particularly the ongoing crisis in Yemen. The Qods Force Commander stated: “Saudi Arabia will not succeed in its attack on Yemen; in fact, it will remain ineffective like the Israeli attack on Gaza.” Soleimani also talked about the current situation in Iraq, stating that religion or sects do not matter to ISIS; the terrorists threaten everyone. Regarding Syria, Soleimani said that the situation has improved, adding: “Today is better than a few years ago and we hope to continue this progress in Syria.” (Soleimani.ir)
  • Syrian Defense Minister arrives in Tehran. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan met with his Syrian counterpart General Fahad Jassim al Freij on April 28, in Tehran. The two discussed ways to strengthen defense ties between Iran and Syria. Dehghan highlighted the joint cooperation efforts of Tehran and Damascus in combatting terrorism and said their successful relationship is an “example for other Muslim countries.” The Syrian Defense Minister praised Iran for its support to Syria, stating: “The Syrian people will never forget the support of the Iranian nation and government.” (YJC)
  • Iraqi MP and Shi’a militia commander visits Tehran. Council of Representatives member and Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada commander Falih Hassan al-Khazali, known as, Haj Abu Ala’ al Wala’a visited Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam’s burial site on April 27, in Tehran. Moghaddam was the main architect of the Iranian missile system and an IRGC commander. (ABNA)

 

 

Military and Security

  • Artesh Navy seizes naval vessel with Marshall Islands ensign. According to Fars News Agency, an informed Iranian source confirmed previous reports that the Artesh Navy seized a ship from the Marshall Islands in the Strait of Hormuz. The unnamed source stated: “The ship is a trade vessel and has been seized by the Iranian navy at the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization. The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Artesh Navy’s presence in Bab el Mandeb Strait saved two tankers. Rear Admiral Lower Half Mahmoud Mousavi stated that Artesh Navy’s 34th Fleet repulsed a pirate attack against two Iranian oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden. He also said that the 34th Fleet is present in the Bab el Mandeb Strait to ensure the security of Iranian vessels and shipping lanes. (Tabnak)

 

 

Nuclear Talks

  • Zarif: we’re writing the text of the final agreement. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “Whatever time or labor from experts or levels of political directors or ministers is required, we will dedicate it for [writing the text of the final nuclear agreement].” Zarif stated that during his meeting yesterday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “…it was decided that we, along with the P5+1, will begin continuing writing of the text [of the agreement] this week, and we will continue this work next week, and this final text will be achieved.”  Regarding the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of a bill allowing Congress to review a final nuclear deal, Zarif stated: “What we expect from the American government and other governments, is adherence to its international obligations.” (IRNA)

By The Critical Threats