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Iran Press Review: 20 Jan.

Analysis by FDD

  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, writes in an FDD Policy Brief: “Iran’s regime is at odds with itself over the costs and benefits of its controversial nuclear program. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the back and forth between President Hassan Rouhani, on the one hand, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on the other.”
  • Claudia Rosett, Journalist-in-Residence, writes in Forbes: “Beyond puzzling over the circumstances, is there any response the U.S. can make to the sudden death this past weekend of Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman? Nisman spent the past decade seeking justice for the victims of the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center, which killed 85 people and wounded many more. Nisman compiled a massive case, accusing Iran and its Lebanese terrorist affiliate, Hezbollah, of the attack. He indicted a member of Hezbollah and a number of former high-ranking Iranians officials. And he found himself increasingly at cross-purposes with the machinations of Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner.”
  • Thomas Jocelyn, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Weekly Standard: “Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (the AMIA building) in Argentina, has been found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. Nisman was famous in intelligence and law enforcement circles for amassing evidence that implicates Iran in the AMIA attack, which left 85 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Early reports suggest that Nisman may have been murdered, but the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Nisman had also accused senior Argentine officials, including President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of protecting some of the Iranian officials responsible for the bombing. Kirchner and other officials scoffed at his claims. Nisman was reportedly set to testify before a parliament hearing today about the matter.
  • Senior Fellows Bill Rogio and Ali Alfoneh wrote in The Long War Journal: “A senior general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - Qods Force was among six Iranians and six Hezbollah operatives who were killed in yesterday's airstrike in southern Syria that is thought to have been launched by the Israeli military. Sepah News, the official online news outlet of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), confirmed that Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi was killed in the airstrike in Quneitra, Syria. Both Hezbollah and the IRGC claimed that Israeli attack helicopters carried out the attack.”

Foreign Policy

  • Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), comments on Iran’s diplomacy with Saudi Arabia:
    • “Iran is read to continue clear and comprehensive discussions with [Saudi] Arabia.”
  • Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament, touched down in Turkey today in order to participate in the “tenth session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”
  • Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an Iranian Foreign Ministry Deputy for Arab and African Affairs, reportedly “traveled to Doha today in order to see and have discussions with Qatari official and partake in the Third Session of the Political Committee of the two countries.”
  • Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, was in Kabul, Afghanistan today, where he “submitted the invitation-letter of [President] Rouhani to Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan to travel to Iran.” Fars News Agency quoted Zarif on the Iran-Afghanistan relationship as saying:
    • “The Islamic Republic of Iran has from the beginning of the Jihad (against the Soviet Union), and especially after the end of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, been an ally of the people and government of Afghanistan, and has been beside it.”
    • “I am very hopeful about the future relationship of the two countries (Iran and Afghanistan) because the people of Iran have been alongside the nation of Afghanistan in the days of the Jihad and the construction of [the] government and shall remain [there].”
  • Rostam Qassemi, Iran’s former Minister of Oil under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and currently a Presidential Adviser, commented on his meetings with Syrian officials:
    • “I usually meet Bashar al-Assad in my visits to Syria. At a weeklong trip we had to Syria with some government officials, we met with most [Syrian] cabinet ministers and discussed economic issues in Syria.”
  • Hossein Shariatmadari, Kayhan editor, considered the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack “suspicious,” and questioned why Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad was present in Paris at the time of the rally declaring its support to the French magazine, and condemns Zarif for his photo-op with John Kerry, “the man who has extended the greatest support to a magazine insulting the prophet of Islam.”
  • Bloomberg reported: “A meeting between the foreign ministers of OPEC’s Iran and Saudi Arabia was delayed in part due to discord over falling crude prices, said Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, made an invitation in May to Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks in the kingdom with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal. The visit, postponed a few months ago because of differences over the Syria conflict, has been pushed back again “due to oil-price declines,” Amir-Abdollahian said on Al-Alam state-run television, according to its website.”
  • Reuters reported: “An Argentine prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernandez of orchestrating a cover-up in the investigation of Iran over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center was found dead in his apartment, authorities said on Monday. Alberto Nisman, who had been delving into the blast at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, said Wednesday that Fernandez opened secretive discussions with Iran and at least one of the men suspected of planting the bomb.”

Military & Security

  • Iranian officials and media outlets continue to comment and report on the aftermath of the killing of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) member, Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali Allahdadi:
    • Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s SNSC chief, proclaims:
      • “The experience of the past shows that the resistance current will give the response to the terrorist action by the Zionist regime with revolutionary intensity and determination in a time and place of our choosing.”
    • Hossein Dehqan, Iran’s Minister of Defense, states:
      • “This terrorist action of the Zionist regime in the Golan [Heights] is the continuation of the atrocities of the regime in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, [and] Lebanon, and it was their clear support of Takfiri terrorists which has completed the shameful file of the regime.”
    • Major General Mohammad-Ali Aziz Jafari, the Commander of Iran’s IRGC, notes:
      • “These martyrdoms have proved that we must not distance ourselves from Jihad; the Zionists must await our destructive thunderbolts, in the past they have seen the emergence of our anger.”
  • Fars News Agency runs a headline quoting a “High-Level Russian Military Official: Moscow will likely deliver the S-300 missiles to Iran.”
  • Ali Fadavi, the IRGC-Navy (IRGC-N) Chief Commander, received a delegation from Oman. In his statement, Fadavi commented on Iran’s naval capabilities, noting: “American military officials admit they spent $13 billion to produce aircraft carriers but the Guards, with its fast [boats] is capable of sinking them.”
  • Reuters reports: “An Iranian general killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria was not its intended target and Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking guerrillas, a senior security source said on Tuesday. The remarks by the Israeli source, who declined to be identified because Israel has not officially confirmed it carried out the strike, appeared aimed at containing any escalation with Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group.”

Nuclear Issue

  • The Director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Dr. Ali-Akbar Salehi, comments on upcoming nuclear reactors in Iran:
    • “We have signed an agreement with Russia for the construction of 2 atomic reactors in Bushehr.”
    • “We speculate that the second nuclear reactor will commence its activities in 8 years, and the third reactor will become operational 2 years after that.”
    • “These reactors will produce electricity, without polluting the environment.”
  • Mohammad-Javad Zarif weighs-in on nuclear diplomacy:
    • “If the Americans want to reach a result, [they should] however quickly put an end to the dangerous game of pressure on Iran.”
    • “The negotiations have become very complex and we have entered [into discussion] on the details.”
    • “We have stated numerous times that the opposing side must accept that if it wants to reach a negotiated solution with Iran, it must cease the policy of pressure.”
  • Mohammad-Hassan Asfari, a spokesman of a 205 member-large group of Parliamentarians, demands “60% [uranium] enrichment, in response to the “excessive demands of the 5+1 Group.”
  • Behrouz Kamalvandi, the Spokesperson for Iran’s AEOI, stated:
    • “If the negotiations counterpart does not demonstrate adequate resolve, we have readied ourselves for any scenario.”
  • Fouad Izadi, an Iranian international affairs expert, discussed in an interview with Javan, President Obama’s joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Izadiurged the [Iranian] government not to give more concessions in the nuclear negotiations.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported: “Nuclear talks between Iran and six powers over Tehran’s nuclear program will resume at senior-official level early next month, a spokeswoman for the European Union said Monday. She said talks in Geneva on Sunday between the parties were “serious and useful” and they had decided to meet again in early February. Others, however, said the talks remain very difficult. The EU chairs the six-power group—made up of the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K. and Germany—which negotiates on the nuclear dossier.”
  • The Hill reported: “Supporters of Iran sanctions legislation are betting they can secure the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto from President Obama.m Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are moving quickly to bring their bill to the floor, defying warnings from administration officials who say the legislation could blow up the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.”

Economy & Trade

  • President Rouhani’s Chief of Staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, comments on the private sector, noting:
    • “The private sector must take on the management of economic activities.”
  • Additionally commenting on the importance of the private sector, Eshaq Jahangiri, the Rouhani administration’s First Vice-President, proclaims:
    • “Every provincial manager must by the end of the year [13]94 must grant one or two projects to the private sector.”
  • Kazem Jalali, the Head of the Majlis Research Centers,comments on Iran’s oil dependency:
    • “The path and solution for the economy of the country for the resolution of problems such as recession and inflation, is by paying attention to the requests of the Supreme Leader, and implementing a cessation to the economy’s dependence on oil resources.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Senior Afghan energy officials have asked for importing natural gas supplies from Iran, energy officials announced on Tuesday. "The two countries' officials have held talks on export of Iran's gas to Afghanistan, but it has not been finalized yet," International Affairs Director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Azizollah Ramezani said on Tuesday.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian Minister of Industries, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh announced that Iran plans to set up an industrial town in the Southern port city of Jask in a joint venture with the Chinese. "Iran and China will set up an industrial town in Jask port to establish and develop different industries, including petrochemical, refinery, aluminum and steel industries," Nematzadeh said, addressing a conference held in Tehran on Monday to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the National Iranian Petrochemical Company (NIPC).”

Human Rights

  • Reactions to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks and their aftermath:
    • Iran’s Prosecutor General closes the Mardom-e Emrouznewspaper, edited by Mohammad Qouchani, because of the newspaper’s declaration of support to Charlie Hebdo with the headline: “I too am Charlie!”
    • Javad Karimi Qodousi, an Iranian Parliamentarian and member of the National Security and Foreing Policy Committee, stated:  “France is burning in a fire the country itself started!”
    • Kayhan: “Professors, students and employees at the Imam Sadeq University, condemning the insults against the prophet of Islam by Charlie Hebdo...demand closure of the French Embassy in Tehran.” The demonstrators were carrying placards reading: “I’m not Charlie, I’m an innocent child of Gaza,” “The French Embassy must be closed,” “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” “Death to Britain,” “Death to France,” “Death to Wahabism” and the like.

Daily Picture(s)

  • Tasnim News Agency displays photos of protests outside the French Embassy in Iran by university students.
  • Tasnim News Agency highlights the meeting and press conference between the Ministers of Defense from Russia and Iran.
  • Islamic Republic News Agency displays a photo from a meeting of the Iranian Supreme Council on the Cultural Revolution (SCCR).