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Iran Press Review: 15 Dec.

Analysis by FDD

  •  Senior Fellow Emanuele Ottolenghi writes in The National Interest: “Proxies and agents, merchants and middlemen, peddlers and enablers of the Iranian regime have been scouring the globe for years in search of ways to evade U.S. sanctions and help Iran acquire nuclear weapons.  Georgia, a small post-Soviet republic in the Southern Caucasus, located less than a thousand miles from Tehran, appears to have become a critical conduit for Iran’s efforts to buy nuclear technology. Unless Western governments pay more attention to Iranian efforts in Georgia to defy the international community, Tehran will continue to elude export restrictions and bypass sanctions through the Southern Caucasus.”
  • Journalist in Residence Claudia Rosett wrote in Forbes: “North Korea has denied any involvement in the massive hacking attack last month on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and absent evidence clearly pinning the deed on Pyongyang, it may be fair to keep an open mind. With investigators still digging into the case, it’s too soon to rule out a role in the attack by some of North Korea’s closest friends — for instance, Iran. When Sony’s computers were breached on Nov. 24, North Korea became an immediate suspect due to its bellicose protests and threats issued earlier this year over a Sony film, “The Interview,” scheduled for release this Christmas. The movie is a burlesque, mocking North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un with a plot in which two buffoonish TV journalists land an exclusive interview with Kim, and are asked by the CIA to assassinate him (“Take him out,” says the CIA agent; “For coffee?” they ask).”

Politics

  •  Hossein Shariatmadari, Kayhan newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, comments on the “sedition” or fitnah of (the name ascribed to the Green Movement and its supporters by Iranian hardliners) 2009, proclaiming in an address at Tehran University:
    •  “Documents exist which indicate that the leaders of the sedition had attempted to sell-out their country. I sent part of these documents to one of the members of the sedition, who in his response noted, we will not allow these documents to be published.”
    • To students: “I feel sorry for you, since you have been deceived.”
    •  “But my message is to the seditionists, not to you students, who have been deceived. It’s a pity that much like the sedition of 78 (1999) that you work so hard for them, and afterwards they say that the student movement is worthless.”
    •  “On the 21st of Khordad 88 (June 11, 2009) Michael Ledeen, whom Khatami follows, said in an interview with The New York Times that tomorrow in Iran there will not be an election but rather a colored revolution will commence.”
    •  “The documents indicate that even the sanctions were suggested to America by the leaders of the sedition, I say to the seditionists, if it wasn’t for Hezbollah, you would be polishing Netanyahu’s boots now.”
    •  “Weren’t the Munafiqeen (the word Iranian hardliners use to describe the MEK/MKO) in a coalition with you, didn’t King Abdullah pay the expenditures of your sedition[?]”
    •  “My request to those friends who disagree is that if you like the life of Mousavi, don’t say death to the liar, it is a pity. These [people] must be tried, unless they want to take the documents to the grave with them. With the publication of these documents, will anyone dare to say that the leaders of the seditions weren’t traitors[?]”
    •  “I never defend myself. It is not worth it to use the time to defend the system on myself.”
    •  “Soon, we will publish the documents of the leaders of the sedition in book format.”
    • “Don’t you say that cheating occurred? Then why did Khatami vote?”
    •  “The only thing which is documented from the President of Israel and Netanyahu is that the reformists are the greatest investment of Israel in Iran, Peres, at the height of the sedition said that reformists fight in Iran while representing us.”
  •  Mehrdad Bavaj Lahooti, a member of the Parliament [Majlis] Committee on the Environment, states:
    •  “It is expected of the Environmental Organization to, due to the failings which have occurred, to apologize to the people.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Gholam-Hossein Sobhani-Nia, the Prosecutor of Shiraz’s Special Clerical Court, says the court is preparing a case against Hojjat al-Eslam Hadi Ghaffari, revolutionary radical turned reformist, because of Ghaffari's Student Day address. 

Foreign Policy

  •  Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, comments on themes of “sacrifice” in Iran’s foreign policy:
    •  “The families of the martyrs and the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran have expectations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enshrine at the helm of its views the culture of sacrifice, resistance, and martyrdom.”
    •  “After the glorious Islamic Revolution, the front of disbelief [Kufr] was united against Iran; in the history of international relations, after the second World War that one country could cause all the powers of the world to put aside their differences and unite against it.”
    • “Therefore if you look at the state of the world today, you see that without belief in the culture of sacrifice and martyrdom, you cannot keep the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the collective diplomacy of the country on its feet.”
  •  Ebrahim Rahimpour, the Foreign Ministry Deputy for  Asia and Oceania, notes:
    • “For the time being, the governments of Iran and Afghanistan are negotiating a bilateral security agreement… (Concerning transfer of natural gas from Turkmenistan to Iran), negotiations have taken place and... It is in the making... Iran and Pakistan have military and security cooperation, and a military cooperation treaty document has been signed. However, in some cases acts against this document take place... Ever since the Geneva Agreement and suspension of some sanctions, India has managed well to live up to its obligations. For the time being, monetary and banking issues between Iran and India are progressing and this country is in the process of paying its debt.” 
  •  Wael al-Halqi, the Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Syria visits Tehran today.
  •  Tasnim News Agency reports: “Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi emphasized the importance of close Tehran-Cairo relations, saying that the potential should be used to boost religious proximity among Muslims. Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi made the remarks in a Monday meeting with Ahmad Moballeghi, the chancellor of Iran’s Islamic Madhahib University, who represented Iran in a recent international conference on fight against terrorism and extremism in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.”
  • Tasnim News Agency reported: “A Turkish lawmaker hailed Iran for its contribution to the regional peace and stability, saying the ISIL terrorist group would have conquered Iraq’s Kurdistan region and even Baghdad if Iran had not offered help to its western neighbor. “I believe that Iran is a major regional power in the Middle East. Iran has great significance in the establishment of peace and stability in the region,” Nazmi Gur told the Tasnim News Agency.”

Military and Security

  • Iran’s Fars News Agency continues its reporting on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report, noting in its headline: “One prisoner was chained to the wall for 17 days.”
  •  Abdollah Abdollahi, the Commander of the Khattam al-Anbiya Construction Base, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) contracting arm, weighs-in on various construction projects the IRGC has undertaken, such as highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • Farhad Amiri, the head of the Artesh’s [national Army] research and self-sufficiency Jihad office, exclaims:
    • “In the Artesh Air Force, we have created a simulator of the Sukhoi-24 and the Mirage, and soon we will commence building of a simulator of the Mig-29.”
  • Bibak News defends the IRGC in the face of President Rouhani's attacks against economic activities of this branch of the armed forces:
    • “Yes, as a strong fortress of the regime in the face of the aliens, the Revolutionary Guards concentrates powers, but it is not the type of concentration of power which brings corruption with it... concentration of the powers in the Guards is the result of the popular nature of this institution and its penetration of the hearts of the noble Iranian people. Any institution which has such characteristics, will enjoy various forms of national power, since all the national elites and those in possession of economic and spiritual powers, pride themselves as soldiers of this strong fortress...If the honorable president considers concentration of the trust of the people towards the Guards... as a sign of corruption, this would be an insult against the Iranian nation.”
  •  According to the Islamic Awakening Society of Bahrain, 60,000 Bahrainis participated in the Shi’ite religious mourning ceremonies in Iraq, commemorating Arba’een.
  • Reuters reports: “Iran has supplied weapons, money and training to the Shi'ite Houthi militia that seized Yemen's capital in September, as Tehran steps up its regional power struggle with Saudi Arabia, Yemeni and Iranian officials say. Exactly how much support Iran has given the Houthis, who share a Shi'ite ideology, has never been clear. Sunni countries in the Gulf accuse Iran of interference via Shi'ite proxies in the region, something Tehran denies.”
  • Reuters reported: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned U.S. businesses to be on the alert for a sophisticated Iranian hacking operation whose targets include defense contractors, energy firms and educational institutions, according to a confidential agency document. The operation is the same as one flagged last week by cyber security firm Cylance Inc as targeting critical infrastructure organizations worldwide, cyber security experts said. Cylance has said it uncovered more than 50 victims from what it dubbed Operation Cleaver, in 16 countries, including the United States.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Abdol-Karim Rajabi, a member of Iran’s Parliament, notes:
    • “The negotiations have closer to the station of victory, and according to a report of the Foreign Minister…we hope to reach a result in the month of Tir (July) in the next year, or earlier.”
  • Commenting on sanctions, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani states:
    • “In this condition, the government is attempting to quickly put an end to the issue of oppressive sanctions. The government wants to defend the right of the nation of Iran in all areas, and enrichment is one of the hundreds and thousands of the rights of this nation.”
  •  Digarban runs a headline quoting Mr. Zaraei, the head of the Imam Hussein University, which, as the source attests “is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” He reportedly said: “Iran’s negotiations with the 5+1 group have failed.”
  • Ali-Akbar Salehi, the Director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), notes:
    • “We have now our second generation centrifuges 2000 of which have been installed, and a chain of 164 of which are being tested... We have also IR4, IR6 and IR8 centrifuges. IR8 is the latest generation of centrifuges, which are capable of 24 SOW enrichment... We have not infused gas into this centrifuges. This is a voluntary act, and as long as the negotiations continue we do not intend to infuse gas into the IR8.... This is an act of good will towards the counter parts. Of course, mechanical tests are being made, and different tests must take place, including the mechanical tests, but no active UF6 gas will be infused into the IR8 centrifuge as long as the negotiations continue... We have now ca. 20,000 centrifuges installed, 9,000 of which are not working. As long as the negotiations continue, we do not intend to activate the 9,000 centrifuges. This is an understanding we have, an unwritten understanding to which we feel obliged. We want to solve the issue, and are not trying to make provocations or making it more complicated. For now, we work with the 9,000 centrifuges until we see how the negotiations end.”
      • Press TV also reported Salehi’s remarks.
  • Ali-Akbar Velayati, Foreign Policy Adviser to the Supreme Leader and current head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), notes: “Iran is pursuing establishment of reactors and fuel rods... Excessive demands of the United States will drive a wedge between the United States and its allies.” 

Economy

  • Bloomberg reports: “The five-year rally in Iranian stocks is coming to an end as optimism fades that President Hassan Rouhani can resolve an international standoff over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. The Tehran Stock Exchange Index has lost 20 percent in 2014, set for the first yearly decline since 2008, as petrochemical companies and lenders plunged, bourse data show. Over the previous five years, shares soared 910 percent, or about 300 percent in dollar terms after factoring in the rial’s declines.”
  • Reuters reports: “Iran resumed gasoil imports this quarter after a gap of several months on rising consumption of heating oil during winter, but the arrivals are unlikely to continue as the demand is only seasonal, industry sources said on Monday. Iran’s imports are expected to have a muted impact on Asian gasoil margins as the volumes are too small and they come at a time when the region is flooded with supply from new capacity in the Middle East and China, traders said.”
  •  Reuters reported: “South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil rose 6.5 percent in November from a year earlier, but shipments for the first 11 months of the year were still below the 2013 average, in line with international sanction requirements. Preliminary customs data from the world's fifth-largest crude oil importer showed on Monday that Seoul bought 567,611 tonnes of crude oil from Tehran last month, or 138,686 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 532,851 tonnes a year ago.”
    • Fars News Agency also reported on this story, citing Reuters.

Media, Society & Culture

  •  Islamic Republic News Agency runs a headline reading: “The book of Ayatollah Khamenei’s political philosophy is reviewed.”
    •  The book, Ayatollah Khamenei’s Political Philosophy, was compiled by Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Mahajoznia.
  • Press TV reports: “Iranian filmmaker Maziar Miri’s latest drama The Painting Pool has entered the competition lineup of the 2015 Victoria Film Festival in Canada. The Painting Pool narrates the story of a mentally retarded couple and their problems in the Iranian society.”
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported: “Iranian authorities have agreed to allow the children of illegal Afghan immigrants to attend Iranian schools and universities. RFE/RL spoke on December 14 with Haji Muhammad Mohaqiq, Afghanistan's second deputy executive officer who recently returned from talks in Iran.”

Daily Picture(s)

  •  Islamic Republic News Agency displays pictures of Wael al-Halqi, the Prime Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic in Tehran today.