Iran Press Review: 16 April

Analysis by FDD

  • Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar, writes in Forbes: “As you’d expect, the critique of the U.S.-Iran “understanding” by former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz has a lot of wisdom, some of which is aimed at the content of an acceptable nuclear deal, its verification and enforcement, and some of which lays out the likely (very dangerous) consequences if the “understanding” were to be finalized more or less as is. The attorneys out there would say that it’s all moot, since there is no deal. Any lingering doubts have now been blown up by the Iranian Supreme Leader. All that was agreed at Lausanne was that everyone will keep talking.”
  • Benjamin Weinthal, Research Fellow, and Maximillian Kiewel, wrote in The National Interest: “With a framework in place for addressing the Iran nuclear issue, Germany, a member of the P5+1 powers negotiating with Tehran, stands to reap an economic windfall. German investment in Iran, however, is a double-edged sword. When it comes to the uncertainties of sanctions relief for Iran’s battered economy and the misuse of technology for domestic repression, Germany’s business community may face enormous challenges. The November 2013 Joint Plan of Action interim agreement sparked a 30-percent rise in German exports to the Islamic Republic in 2014 to reach €2.4 billion.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, and Saeed Ghasseminejad, Associate Fellow, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Parviz Fattah as the new head of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF) last weekend. Fattah, previously the top manager of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) largest investment portfolio, will assume over a multi-billion dollar foundation hitherto controlled by Iran’s traditional conservative party, the Islamic Coalition Party. The move – which went virtually unnoticed amidst the fanfare surrounding the nuclear framework announcement earlier this month – has vast political significance. The IKRF was founded immediately after the 1979 Islamic Revolution by direct order of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first Supreme Leader. Its mission was and remains “to carry out the high aims of the Islamic Republic System of Iran and the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent for uprooting poverty, supporting and giving relief to the deprived and the oppressed people and making them self-sufficient.”  The foundation controls considerable assets and receives budgetary funding – as much as $1 billion in 2015. In addition, it receives discretionary funding from the Supreme Leader, domestic and foreign donations, and revenue from its own economic activities, such as real estate, mining, construction, and agriculture.”

Politics

  • Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Executive Board of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, notes in a statement to the press that the number of persons sitting on the Assembly will increase from its present number of 86 to 99, adding 13 new seats.

Foreign Policy

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif has a telephone discussion with Ban-Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations. In the call he discussed the Saudi-led campaign (Operation Decisive Storm) against Yemen, and its impact on the Yemeni people and infrastructure of the state.
  • Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs meets with high-level members of the Shiite clergy from the holy-city of Qom. At the meeting, the clerics reportedly told Abdollahian that the attack on Yemen “lacks any legal or religious justification.”
  • AP reports: “Saudi Arabia's government insists it is not at war with Iran despite its three-week air campaign against Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, but the kingdom's powerful clerics, and its regional rival's theocratic government, are increasingly presenting the conflict as part of a region-wide battle for the soul of Islam. The toxic rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran is playing out on the battlefields of Yemen and Syria, and in the dysfunctional politics of Iraq and Lebanon, with each side resorting to sectarian rhetoric. Iran and its allies refer to all of their opponents as terrorists and extremists, while Saudi Arabian clerics speak of a regional Persian menace.”

Military & Security

  • Lebanese Hezbollah’s Public Relations office releases a statement attacking Saudi Arabia, noting:
    • “The backwards, ignorant, murderous, terrorism-exporting, extremist, deviant thought and hardline regime in the Arabian peninsula cannot be compared with the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”  
  • Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, the Commander of Iran’s Artesh (national army) Ground-Forces comments on how the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, kept the army intact after coming to power, noting:
  • “Imam Khomeini gave the army another life, and linked it to the ocean of the nation, and [he] made an army that was in service of the monarchy into [an army] in service of the nation and Islam.”
  • Elsewhere, commenting on American perceptions, he noted: “The arrogance (another name for America) fears the transformation of Islam to a pole of power in the world; therefore, by creating the fictitious event of the 11th of September they found an excuse to enter the region.”
  • Iran’s Minister of Defense, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, meets with his Indonesia counterpart while in Moscow, agreeing to expand and “increase defense cooperation” between the two states.”
  • Iran’s Fars News Agency reports: “Iran's new home-made submarine 'Fateh (Conqueror)' is now in final testing stage and will soon be delivered to the Naval forces in the near future, a senior Navy commander announced on Wednesday. "Fateh has passed all stages of construction and the defense ministry is now doing the final tests," Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam Reza Khadem Biqam said today.”

Nuclear Issue

  • President Hassan Rouhani comments on the nuclear negotiations at a press conference in Gilan province:
    • “We are not in need of this agreement, and the P5+1 Group needs it more than us. Our most important goal is to declare to the world that the allegations against us were false and the world admits the Iranian people have the right to use peaceful nuclear technology... We are determined to continue the negotiations until an agreement. These negotiations are not easy and the work done until now has been important. In parts, we have reached an agreement with P5+1 Group and the framework needed for this agreement has been agreed upon... There is two and half months left to finalize the agreement in question and there are many details which must be considered. We hope if the resolve shown by the seven countries could lead to a final agreement... the structure of the sanctions cannot continue as before... [Even] if an agreement is not reached, the structure of the sanctions will not remain, and an agreement is in the interest of everyone and we hope a dignified agreement in which the national interests [of Iran] are guaranteed is achieved.”
  • Hamid Khadem Qa’emi, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) Public Relations Director, addresses the nuclear negotiations in a speech in Mashhad:
  • “In the nuclear negotiations, no red line was crossed. Fordow is still active, and only a part of the uranium has been made into oxide... Reports from the inspections, the peaceful nature of Iran's activities has been confirmed, but the IAEA director general does not express complete trust and believes there are also clandestine nuclear centers in Iran.”
  • Commenting the Additional Protocol, he said: “Should Iran accept this Protocol, the Agency could inspect all the facilities. In the past, for two years, Iran voluntarily accepted this Protocol.”
  • Commenting on stopping of 20% enrichment, Khadem Qaemi said: “We will not use anything in this regard, since the 20% fuel was related to the Tehran reactor, and this reactor fundamentally does not need this fuel for the next year... If we reach this agreement, we could buy it from abroad which financially is more economical for Iran.”
  • “The Americans were ready to accept all our conditions, but in return demanded that all Research and Development should stop but Iran would never accept such a thing.”
  • “As the Leader said, nothing has happened yet. Natanz will continue its work, and Fordow too will not close.”
  • “The centrifuges currently in use are type IR1, and the cost of maintaining them is very high, we must use the fourth and five generations [of the centrifuges].”
  • The next round of nuclear negotiations with Iran are reportedly set to commence on April 22nd in the Austrian capital of Vienna. The talks will continue until the 23rd, while on the first day Helga Schmid and Abbas Eraqchi will meet.
  • Reuters reports: “The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had a "constructive exchange" with Iran this week but there was no sign of a breakthrough on aspects of its nuclear program that the agency says Tehran has failed to fully address. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating Iran's nuclear program in parallel to talks between Tehran and six world powers that aim to broker a deal by the end of June to scale down the program in exchange for sanctions relief.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reported: “Iranian President Hasan Rouhani accused the U.S. Congress of meddling in sensitive negotiations on the fate of the country’s nuclear program, signaling potential new obstacles in the way of a final deal. “What the U.S. Senate says, or what the U.S. House of Representatives want, or what the extremists in the U.S. are looking for, or what the U.S. mercenaries in the region say, it doesn’t have anything to do with our government or our people,” he said in a speech aired on state television on Wednesday.”
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported: “Tired of waiting for the Foreign Ministry to shed light on a historic framework nuclear agreement it reached with world powers, a group of Iranian lawmakers has gone rogue and issued a list of recommended changes to the deal. Ever since the agreement was announced on April 2, different interpretations of key parameters of the deal have been presented.”

Economy & Trade

  • Fars News Agency reports: “Chairman of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAOI) Alireza Jahangirian announced that a large number of foreign aircraft manufacturing companies have shown interest in serious cooperation with Iran. "The airplane manufacturing companies are seriously looking for interaction with Iran in order not to lag behind if the conditions change for the better in Iran; the (representatives of the) aircraft manufacturing companies visited Iran several times last year and held talks with airlines and organizations dealing with Iran's transportation market," Jahangirian said.”

Human Rights

  • Fox News reports: “The family of a U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran for nearly four years says the American has been drugged, whipped and told a heartbreaking lie that his mother died in a car accident while he awaits a retrial. The sister and brother-in-law of Amir Hekmati appeared on Fox News Channel's "On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren," where they described in chilling detail the torture that the veteran has endured since his arrest in August 2011. Hekmati, they said, has suffered stun-gun assaults, has been whipped, dosed with lithium and hung by his arms while held in the Islamic Republic.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Fars News Agency displays photos of a student protest outside of the United Nations building in Tehran. The protest was against Saudi Arabia.
  • Defa Press releases photos of the new vehicles and sniper rifle recently acquired by Artesh Ground Forces.