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Iran Press Review: 18 Dec.

Analysis by FDD

  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, writes in Standpoint: “The 24 November deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran came and went with no deal and the likelihood of further delays in 2015. Both the Obama Administration and its European allies are adamant that we have never before been as close to a deal as we are today. Delicate diplomatic issues, after all, require time. There is little reason to believe them. All evidence points in the opposite direction. The international community can reach a deal over Iran's nuclear programme only at the price of meeting Tehran's red lines. And the problem is that Iran will only agree to restrictions on its nuclear activities as long as they do not ultimately bar its path to a bomb. In the 12 months of negotiations conducted under the interim agreement, Iran won one major policy victory and gained four major concessions in the nuclear domain.”

Politics

  • Jahan News speculates on the political future of Mohammad-Reza Aref, the noted reformist who dropped out of Iran’s Presidential elections last summer. The article notes that “only one event can calm Aref, and it is none other than sitting in the chair of the leadership of Baharestan (the building Iran’s Parliament is housed in).” The article further provides two reasons why “Aref’s passing over of Khatami can be helpful for him for several reasons.”
  • In an address to student groups, Mohammad-Reza Aref, the aforementioned reformist and member of Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council (SCRC) and the Expediency Discernment Council, proclaimed:
    • “The student movement must not turn into the podium for political currents outside of the university, and must not become the flag-bearer and be raised by the students for political currents.”
    • “The government cannot on its own solve the problems, and in this path, the Parliament must assist the government.”
    • On the hardline Kayhan newspaper (who’s Editor, Hossein Sharitamadari, if often believed to speak on behalf of the Supreme Leader): “The voice of Kayhan is only the voice of Kayhan, and not the voice of the system.”

Foreign Policy

  • Former President and current Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,comments on Islamic unity and related themes:
    • “One billion and 700 million Muslims live in 60 independent countries in the world, and if they unite, they will find an insurmountable power and influence in the world, and it will be the source of great changes.”
    • “The glorious maneuvers of the Muslims in Iraq have shaken the world.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpayegani, the Chief of Staff of the Office of the Supreme Leader, comments on America:
  • “In America many atrocities and violations of human rights take place, but they condemn our country for not abiding by human rights.”
  • “Segregation between white-skinned and black-skinned people, and various tribes, torturing prisoners, and giving a medal to the torturer’s overseer and many other instances are all of the instances of America’s violation of human rights, which unfortunately, officials of that country proudly recall.”
  • Asr-e Iran editorializes on the subject of improved U.S.-Cuba relations:
    • “The United States is climbing down from the ivory tower of superiority.”
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported: “Washington is "not serious about fighting terrorism," Iran's deputy foreign minister has said, in a sharply worded criticism of the United States and its allies fighting against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq, according to Russian media reports. During a visit to Moscow, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the "overall policy of Tehran and Moscow, aimed at supporting Syria and Iraq, has been successful."”

Military & Security

  • Yadollah Javani, an adviser to the Representative of the Supreme Leader to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), states:
    • “Iran in West Asia has created the phenomenon of resistance which has made America’s plans and programs face problems.”
  • Iran’s Defense Minister, Hossein Dehqan, is reportedly slated to appear on the Shenasnameh television show in Iran for an interview pertaining to “the creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the provision of security for Tehran in the year [13]61 (1982/1883), the end of IRGC, the (Iran-Iraq) War, the condemning the commanders of the war, the political-economic activities of, the sedition [fitnah] of [13]88 (2009) and [his] ministry.”
  • Hossein Salami, the Deputy Commander of Iran’s IRGC,proclaims:
    • “Western countries have abused scientific achievements, and with the creation of biological weapons, they spread various illnesses including Ebola, and Swine and Bird-Flu in the body of the international community, and have exposed innocent persons to these toxins, until they can develop it for their sinister purposes.”
    • “With our supersonic missiles, we can easily target the enemy's aircraft carriers. We have a super developed technology which will amaze the enemies!”
  • Fars News Agency reports on the upcoming Artesh (national army) drills called Mohammad Rasoul-Allah. Seyyed Abdol-Rahim Mousavi, the Deputy Artesh Commander, notes:
    • “The great military exercise of the Artesh will be held from the fourth to the tenth of the month of Dey (December 25 – December 31, 2014) which will have various units of the naval forces, air, ground, and air-defense forces participate in.”
    • “New weapons and tactics will be tested and assessed in this exercise.”
  • Habibollah Sayyari, the Commander of the Artesh Navy, notes:
    • “We have a communique that extra-territorial forces in the region should not be present in the Joint Artesh Mohammad Rasoul-Allah exercise area.
    • “We have chosen an area for the exercise that if the extra-territorial forces of the region do not leave the region, they will be responsible [for what could happen.]”
    • “Various surface-to-surface, coast-to-sea, ground-to-air missiles and torpedoes will be fired during the Mohammad Rasoul-Allah exercise.”
  • Farzad Esmaeili, the Commander of the Khattam al-Anbiya Air Defense base, notes:
    • “All extra-regional flights throughout the exercise will be monitored.”
    • “Approximately three-thousand persons will be occupied during this drill, and in addition to that, around 10 thousand more persons will be present as support-forces in this exercise.”
  • AP reports: “Iran's state TV says the military will hold a massive drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf next week. The report Thursday says the weeklong exercise will be carried out over 2.2 million square kilometers (0.85 million square miles) including the eastern part of the passage, through which one fifth of the world oil supply passes.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Ebrahim Karkhaneh, the head of the Nuclear Committee in Iran’s Parliament and a representative of Hamadan, discussesIran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “One of the reasons that has heightened Iran’s position amidst countries in political calculations in the world is the nuclear issue, and the focus of countries in the region today is directed at Islamic Iran.”
    • “Today, the tip of America’s spear is focused on the nuclear program, and today it is this very nuclear issue which has heightened Iran’s bargaining power in regional and global calculations.”
    • “The nuclear issue today has been turned into the first levee of our country against arrogance.”
  • Ahmad Shirazad, a former Parliamentarian, critically discusses ten years of nuclear negotiations at a panel debate at Tehran University, noting:
    • “Any person, and any cabinet which took the decision for the Islamic Republic of Iran to move towards nuclearization may have made a wrong decision... At the time of the sixth parliament, I would ask the Atomic Energy Organization what our nuclear strategy is, but no one would give me a clear answer in this regard... There is no water in the nuclear well, but some may make their bread out of it... No one in Iran knows for what reason we have chosen the nuclear path. This issue is just like continuation of the war [with Iraq] after liberation of Khorramshahr, when there were some who chanted ‘the path of liberation of Jerusalem goes through Karbala [in Iraq]....’ This is the result when ten people make decisions on behalf of Iran... In the nuclear field, the Islamic Republic lacks the raw materials, and does not master its science... We have not achieved anything in this regard. If the purpose of the nuclear issue was to help our scientific progress, there is no documentation or research to back up such a claim... The weak uranium sources in Iran are enough for medical and agricultural research and there is no need for further enrichment. Should the sanctions cease, we can purchase that from the international market... High enriched uranium is only for power plants, or for use in arms... Growth in the nuclear field should lead to progress in other industries, but this has not happened... 50,000 are employed in the Atomic Energy Organization, but the exorbitant nuclear budget has not scientifically moved the country. Apart from that, this organization does not tolerate any supervision... The Atomic Energy Organization is working in a closed circle, there is no supervision, and of course, anything could happen there... Production of uranium in the Islamic Republic of Iran is ten times the price of the world market. Nothing has been taken from the Saghand mine of Yazd, and we only take [uranium] from the Gachin mine in Bandar Abbas... God has not endowed our country with vast uranium sources...The establishment of new nuclear power plants will entail total dependency on Russia.”
  • Additional commentary on Shirzad’s statements:
    • Esmaeel Kowsari, a Parliamentarian and former IRGC member: The likes of Shirazad are mercenaries of the enemy.”
    • Zohreh Tabibzadeh, Parliamentarian: “Shirzad's statements are treason against the blood of the martyrs.”
    • Ali-Asghar Zarei, Parliamentarian: “Such statements are like a green light to the enemy... weaken[ing] our negotiating position.”
    • Mansour Haqiqatpour, Parliamentarian: “Such people are failures who could not serve the country when they were in power... the public prosecutor should attend to this matter and not allow such people to throw dirt.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri emphasized that he is pessimistic about the attainment of desirable results in Iran's nuclear talks with the six world powers, although both sides continue the negotiations seriously. "We shouldn’t pin so much hope on getting a desirable conclusion from the negotiations," Jazayeri told reporters on the sidelines of a students congress in Tehran on Wednesday.”
  • Reuters reports: “Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the six world powers and Iran were "very close" to reaching an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.”

Economy & Trade

  • Jahan News runs a headline reporting: “Reformists justify the conspiracy of the Saudi’s without paying attention to national interest[s].”
  • The U.S. Dollar continues its climb against the Rial, is being traded at 35250 Rial on the Iranian market, as reported in Asr-e Iran.
  • Bloomberg reports: “Iran’s rial is weakening after months of stability over declining oil prices and uncertainty whether the country will clinch a nuclear deal lifting international sanctions. The currency, which had hovered around 32,000 per dollar in unregulated markets since April, has lost 8 percent since Nov. 24, when world powers and Iran extended nuclear talks by seven months after failing to reach a breakthrough.”

Media, Society & Culture

  • Tasnim News Agency runs a headline quoting Hojjat al-Eslam Mansour Sharghi, the representative of the Sunni Friday prayer leader in Gilan, exclaiming: “The Sunni’s of Iran are the soldiers of the Supreme Leader.”
  • Haaretz reports: “Iran this week unveiled a monument to Jewish soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and saw both countries suffer millions of casualties and billions of dollar in damage. Jewish community leaders and a number of Iranian religious officials took part in the ceremony on Monday, according to Maariv's website, NRG.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Defa Press reports pictures of the press briefing in the run-up to Artesh’s Mohammad Rasoul-Allah military drill.