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Iran Press Review: 16 March

Analysis by FDD

  • David Rivkin, Senior Fellow and Lee Casey wrote in The National Interest: “Third, it would be up to the Security Council to determine whether or not Iran is complying, and whether any particular violation is material. Even if the United States believes that Iran is in clear violation of its obligations, it could not suspend compliance with its own obligations unless the Security Council agreed. If it threatened to use force without Security Council approval – which remains possible as a self-defense measure under the Charter – the U.S. would certainly be branded an international lawbreaker at a tremendous diplomatic cost. Indeed, the broader consequence of this whole approach would be to make the Security Council Iran's powerful international protector, buttressing its ambitions as a regional hegemon and inducing Sunni Arab states to propitiate Tehran. While the Security Council has not always been responsive to US wishes---given the veto power wielded by other permanent members---Washington has at least been able to render it ineffective by exercising it own veto. The transformation of the Security Council into Iran's ally would represent one of the most disastrous failures of American statecraft, the point that the administration seems to have overlooked.”
  • Benjamin Weinthal, Research Fellow, wrote in The Jerusalem Post: “President Hassan Rouhani has not delivered on his pledge to loosen the vice on personal freedoms in Iran’s largely closed society. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations special rapporteur on Iran, wrote in a report released on Thursday that he “regrets the difficult situation of recognized and unrecognized religious minorities, and that communities continue to report arrests and prosecution for worship and participation in religious community affairs.””

Politics

  • Renowned reformist “theoretician” Saeed Hajarian comments on politics in Iran and notes:
    • “A few months later Rouhani will have weird and strange problems; [a] lack of money, development projects, firing workers, an inability to distribute subsidies… He will try to resolve our issue with America so that from that path a transformation occurs in the economy.” 
    • “Rouhani’s defeat is not our defeat. He was not a reformist.”
  • Ali Mottahari, the Parliamentarian from Tehran who was recently attacked by vigilante mobs during his visit to Shiraz, receives visitors from Shiraz and says: “They attacked me as if Netanyahu had come to Shiraz!” 
    • Hossein Fereydoun, brother to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, visits Mottahari to express his regret for the treatment he received in Shiraz.
  • Tasnim News Agency cites Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to Khorasan’s provinces, Ayatollah Vaez Tabbasi, who reported that Khamenei will commence his Norooz [Persian New Year] address at 3 pm, in the Imam Reza Shrine in the holy city of Mashhad. 
  • The New York Times reported “An Iranian court handed down a 15-year prison sentence to the son of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, after he was convicted of bribery and embezzlement, a judiciary official said on Sunday. The official, Gholam Hosein Mohseni Ezhei, referred to the defendant only by his initials, M.H., and the semiofficial Fars News Agency said the conviction involved an “aghazadeh,” which is an Iranian term for a son of a high official.”

Foreign Policy

  • Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister meets with his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Alawi, in Muscat.
    • Abdollahian stated: “Today, combating terrorism and extremism and the unity of the Islamic world are counted as necessities, and based on this, the resistance of Ansar-Allah with Takfiri groups [like] Al-Qaeda and DAESH (the Persian and Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) in Yemen is commendable.” 
    • Alawi noted: “The Sultanate of Oman has completely transparent and stable relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and knows the development and strengthening of this relationship to be in the interest of the two countries and the region.”
  • Marziyeh Afkham, the Spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, condemns the recent terrorist attack on Christians in Pakistan, noting that:
    • “The clear faith of Islam, is a religion of grace, peace, and friendship and is severely against terrorism.”
  • Kayhan reports on two impending trips by foreign heads of state to Iran:
  • Further relating to the comments of Ali Younessi, Kayhan reports that: “In a warning to the President, 109 members of Parliament seek the removal of Younessi due to his clumsy stance.”
  • Ali-Akbar Velayati, Iran’s former Foreign Minister during the Iran-Iraq War, and currently a foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Secretary General of the Congress of the Islamic Awakening, comments on the recent statements of Ali Younessi, Iran’s former Intelligence Minister. Previously, Younessi spoke about Iran being an imperial power taking over Iraq and Syria. Velayati noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran “recognizes the territorial integrity of states.”

Military & Security

  • Ali Moallem Damghani, the President of the Iranian Academy of the Arts, writes a poem in honor of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds-Force (IRGC-QF) Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani. 
  • Major General Seyyed Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s Joint Forces Chief of Staff, states:
    • “Should someone attack the Muslims of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and places and those Muslims want to defend themselves, we will help them... If they want, and if we can, we will give them advisory help.”
  • Ali Moniat, a “Basij member from Khorramshahr” is killed in the offensive against the Islamic State (IS/DAESH) in Tikrit, Iraq. 
  • A court in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, condemns Ali Rahmat Assadi, a national paintball team member, to life imprisonment on charges of kidnapping Abbas Yazdanpanah, a British businessman of Iranian origin. Assadi, who was in Thailand in April 2014 to partake in Paintball World Cup Asia, was arrested by Thai police and extradited to the UAE. 
    • Bultan News further adds that three other members of Iran's paintball team also were extradited to the UAE, and one has committed suicide in prison in Dubai.
  • The Times of Israel reports: “An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports. The unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, dated February 26, 2015 (PDF), noted Iran’s efforts to combat Sunni extremists, including those of the ultra-radical Islamic State group, who were perceived to constitute the preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide.”
    • Fars News Agency also picked-up on the DNI assessment from February 26, 2015.

Nuclear Issue

  • Mohsen Kuhkan, a former member of the Iranian Parliament’s Executive Board comments on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “One again, in the 1.5 year-long negotiations the Westerners and specifically the Americans proved with their actions that the understanding of the Supreme Leader of America was correct and based on realities.”
    • “This letter of the American Senators shows the internal disintegration from the skin of the constitution of this country…because they have explicitly announced that if Obama achieves any agreement with Iran, the Congress will not endorse it.”
    • “The letter of the Senators of the Congress has brought into existence their first challenge for the American in the international arena.”
    • “The Supreme Leader gave a reminder that the negotiating team must certainly mind, that if an agreement based on the policy of win-win and the observance of the redlines is signed and stepped away from the agreement and does not abide by it, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not have any commitment in relation to it and it will engage in its previous projects.”
  • Abbas Eraqchi, a Senior Member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, proclaims:
    • “In today’s session, the discussions were more pragmatic and executable, and in this process it may be possible to come close to solutions.”
  • Ali-Akbar Salehi, the Chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) notes after a reported five hours of discussions with the U.S. Secretary of Energy:
    • “I am very optimistic about the continuation of negotiations.”
  • Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament, states
    • “In the Parliament, the will of the representatives is in the forward progress of the nuclear negotiations; regardless of the various viewpoints which exist in the Parliament.”
    • “A good agreement by the negotiators will definitely be supported by the Parliament.”
    • “If we don’t reach a comprehensive agreement the world will not end, we will live our lives, [much like] now, where we don’t have an agreement and we are doing our jobs.”
    • “If an agreement is reached it can be a good function for Iran, and if an agreement is not reached, we will continue our work by other means.”
  • 260 parliamentarians reportedly sign a statement issuing conditions for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the P5+1 Group. The demands the immediate removal of all sanctions, and the removal of Iran’s nuclear dossier from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 
  • Reuters reports: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif held four hours of nuclear talks on Monday in the Swiss city of Lausanne before the Iranian delegation headed to Brussels for meetings with European ministers. "We're obviously in crunch time right now, and the next couple of days leading up to this weekend will be key," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told CNN from Washington. "We fully expect we will take to the end of the month to determine if we can get to an agreement that both sides can live by."”
  • Los Angeles Times reports: “Inside a top-security building at a classified U.S. site, government experts intensely monitor rows of tall, cylindrical machines that may offer the Obama administration its best hope for persuading the public to back a nuclear deal with Iran. Using centrifuges acquired when Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003, as well as American-built equipment, the government has spent millions of dollars over more than a decade to build replicas of the enrichment facilities that are the pride of Iran's nuclear program.”
  • Jackson Diehl reported in The Washington Post: “There is a revealing contradiction in the Obama administration’s pre-defense of a nuclear deal with Iran. The White House claims that Israeli and Republican critics have no alternative, other than war. But President Obama recently reiterated that he is ready to “walk away” from a bad deal — and that the chances are no better than even that Iran will accept his terms. So is war the only alternative for Obama? Evidently not. When deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes was recently asked how the United States would prevent Iran from racing to build nuclear weapons after a pact expires, he said: “The fact of the matter is, the same type of options we have in place today to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will be available to the president of the United States in 10, 15 years.””

Economy & Trade

  • Tasnim News Agency reports a 50% drop in Iranian oil exports to the Republic of Korea in February 2015. Iran’s February 2015 exports to South Korea reportedly amounted to 145, 860 barrels per day.
  • According to Asr-e Khabar, under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s National Tax Administration, a sub division of Iran's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, commissioned a French company to develop a software for tax collection in Iran. According to Asr-e Khabar, the French company, apart from producing the software, also collects and saves Iran's tax payer information on its company servers. Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, fearing leak of information about Iranian tax payers, has on numerous occasions protested against French government's involvement in the work of the taxation authorities, but “apparently they could not match the power of the former government officials.” 
  • The Deputy Coordinator of the IRGC’s construction-arm, Khatam al-Anbiya (KAA) Salar Abnoush, continues to tout “resistance economics,” claiming “we will manifest it” “in all areas.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iran's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to over $54 billion in the first nine months of the current Iranian year (started on March 21, 2014) despite the western sanctions, the Central Bank of Iran said. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) further said that Iran witnessed an economic growth of 3.6 percent in the nine-month period.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) announced that the country's main companies produced over 728,000 tons of concentrated copper in the first 11 months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 204- February 19, 2015). More than 211.6 tons of anode and over 176.7 tons of cathode were produced by two Sarcheshmeh and Midouk copper companies in the first eleven month of the current Iranian calendar year, showing 2 and 3 percent of growth respectively in compassion with the same period last year.”

Human Rights

  • Kayhan reports on the new report by Ahmad Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.  
  • The Washington Post reported: “A EUROPEAN diplomat ruefully observed to us that a letter by Senate Republicans to Iran’s leadership would provide the country’s foreign minister with a convenient talking point when negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program resume Monday. Mohammad Javad Zarif will probably protest that his efforts to persuade hard-liners in Tehran to accept a compromise accord have been undercut by the GOP’s letter, which pointed out that the deal would not be binding on Congress or the next president. The letter was ill-advised, but it seems unlikely that it will have much influence on Iran’s decision on the pact, which will be made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, though it could help the regime deflect international blame if he casts a veto. In the meantime, Secretary of State John F. Kerry should have a ready response to Mr. Zarif: the case of Post correspondent Jason Rezaian.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Raja News reports photos from Mashregh News Agency of former Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili during the Iran-Iraq War. Jalili is pictured in diving gear aside the Shatt al-Arab river [Arvand Rud]. 
  • [Warning Graphic ImagesDefa Press reports photos from Halabja, Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War where 5000 Kurds were killed by Saddam’s chemical munitions.