Iran Press Review 21 July

Analysis by FDD

  • David Rivkin, Senior Fellow, co-wrote with Lee A. Casey in The National Interest: “The best approach to Iran in the wake of President Obama’s deal is to recognize the complex nature of the problem, and the absolute need for a well-considered and comprehensive approach. The agreement cannot and should not be simply repudiated on the next president’s first day in office, as some Republican presidential contenders have suggested. The agreement is terrible, but once concluded, the national interest requires that it be undone only with care, patience, and masterful diplomacy—an approach championed by Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Lindsey Graham. Indeed, to suggest otherwise, is to fail to appreciate the full extent of the damage done by the deal and the difficult foreign-policy legacy President Obama is leaving for his successor. First and foremost, simply abrogating the deal—which already has been enshrined in a Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution binding on the United States and all members of the United Nations—would actually put the United States in violation of its international obligations and will hand tremendous strategic benefits to Tehran. This may be inevitable, since Russia and China will certainly take advantage of any American action against Iran to score diplomatic and strategic points against us. But, we do not have to make it easy for them, and we should not.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “Our policy toward the arrogant U.S. government won’t change at all,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei assured Iranians in his address Saturday marking the end of Ramadan. Lest his message was unclear, he later added on Twitter that Washington’s “policies in the region differ … 180 degrees from Iran’s” and that the Islamic Republic would “never surrender to enemies’ excessive demands.” Khamenei’s latest broadside against the United States was not an isolated incident, but part of a deliberate ratcheting-up of rhetoric since last week’s nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). With Iranian hardliners criticizing any negotiations whatsoever with the “Great Satan,” the supreme leader felt it necessary to underscore that Tehran remains committed to opposing American interests anytime and anywhere.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Sunday Times: “IRAN’S nuclear arsenal will have to wait a decade. But with the signing of a nuclear deal in Vienna, the road is open for Tehran to rule the Middle East. The agreement is excellent for Iran: in exchange for a cash windfall, the end of international isolation and even access to western nuclear know-how, it must only postpone and partially mothball its nuclear programme.””
  • Toby Dershowitz, Vice-President for Government Relations and Strategy, wrote in Business Insider: “July 18th marks 21 years since the largest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history: the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 individuals and wounded hundreds more. Evidence is mounting that Argentina’s president is seeking to whitewash Iran’s role in the attack. Earlier this year, Argentina’s special prosecutor in the case, Alberto Nisman, met a suspicious death just one day before he was due to present evidence of a secret Iran-Argentina backchannel. Nisman had already implicated senior Iranian officials in the 1994 bombing. As a result of his investigation, INTERPOL had issued red notices (tantamount to international arrest warrants) for these Iranian officials.”

Politics

  • Center for the Preservation and Publication of the Works of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei unveiled the “Line of Hezbollah” a weekly for distribution in “revolutionary forums, Friday prayers, religious committees, and Basij bases.”  The weekly’s front page includes Khamenei’s recent quote: “With or without the agreement, fighting Arrogance [West] will continue.” 

Foreign Policy

  • Ali-Akbar Velayati, Foreign Policy Adviser to the Supreme Leader, discusses the unchanging fundamentals of Tehran’s foreign policy:
    • “It was expected that the West, in particular the Americans, as always, would try to take advantage of the atmosphere and text of the negotiations. One of those issues is their propaganda that economic pressure finally worked and Iran came to the negotiation table. Of course, they themselves know it is a lie.”
    • “Another abuse... is their claim that the path of Iran America negotiations has been opened, but the Supreme Leader, from the very beginning... said the negotiations only are about the nuclear issue and nothing else.”
    • “The Islamic Republic... will manufacture any type of missile which it finds expedient - with the exception of missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead...Shahab and Sejil missiles were never meant to carry nuclear warheads, and therefore are not subjected to the Vienna Agreement.”
    • “Iran’s policies will not change the least. The Islamic Republic of Iran”s support to the combatants of the region shall not only continue as before, it will also be strengthened. The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to extend support to the government and people of Iraq in the fight against terrorism, be it extremist terrorists or - in American interpretation - centrist terrorists... Countering terrorism beyond the borders [of Iran] is in reality defense of the territorial integrity and political survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You can not remain indifferent to what happens in neighboring countries and in your vicinity and wait until the enemy comes to get you. We must have the initiative, and in a common regional approach fight against terrorism, fight against the United States and external intervention in regional affairs. These are among the duties and strategic initiatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
    • “We say, a bad agreement is an agreement which bereaves us of the nuclear [program], restricts our research and development... impacts our defense capabilities adversely, bereaves us from free economic and financial exchanges with the world... and bereaves us from access to scientific and technological exchanges.”

Military & Security

  • Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander, gives the first public reaction of the Guards to the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 Group:
    • “No Iranian official is opposed to negotiations and a good deal.”
    • “Some elements in the draft are specifically contrary and opposed to the major red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular concerning [Iran’s] arms capabilities, and we will never accept it.” Jafari emphasized: “Any resolution that would be in contradiction to our country’s red lines will have no validity,” and recommended the U.N. Security Council not to “waste its time” passing a resolution that violates Iran’s red lines.
    • Finally, Jafari attacked the “fundamentally arrogant and savage nature of the Americans,” and “their lap dog, the Zionist regime,” and the like.
  • Karim Saheb al-Saidi (AKA “Abu Yasser”), Commander of Iranian-backed Iraqi group Badr Corps in Karbala, was killed in action fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) forces in the region of al-Fathe in Salaheddin province. This announcement follows the death of Badr Corps Operations Director, Abu Montazer al-Mohammadawi, in Fallujah last week.
    • IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani issued a statement expressing his condolences for the death of Abu Montazer and attended his funeral ceremony held in Shahr-e Rey, close to Tehran.
      • Additional funeral attendees: Iraqi Ambassador in Iran Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh, Law Enforcement Forces Commander Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari, Judiciary Branch Social Deputy Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr, and Iraqi Dawa party members.
    • In his statement, Soleimani praised Abu Montazer as a model for “all fighters of the Resistance Front” and said: “The land of Iraq and shrine of God’s family [referring to shrines of Shi’a Imams] is proud of raising brave, humble, courageous, and faithful guardians and preservers such as commander martyr Abu Montazer. 
    • Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC Commander, also issued a statement expressing his condolences for death of Abu Montazer.
  • Mohammad Abdolsalam, Spokesman of the Iranian-backed Yemeni Ansarallah Movement (popularly known as the Houthis), announced in a television interview that “popular army and committee” would soon “change the equation” and “inflict heavy losses” on al-Qaeda forces that have reportedly gathered close to Aden province.
  • Qais Khazali, Secretary of Iranian-backed Iraqi group Asaib Ahl al Haq, met with the representative of Ayatollah Kazem Haeri, senior Iraqi Shi’a cleric who lives in Qom, and discussed recent events in Iraq and “the condition of popular mobilized forces.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Saidi, the Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC, addressed a gathering of Basij university students:
    • “In the past 36 years, the Islamic Revolution has faced many crises including the challenge of the interim government [immediately following the revolution], the challenge of discord and [former President Abolhassan] Bani Sadr, the challenge of the movement of [former dissident Ayatollah Hossein Ali] and Mehdi Hashemi [executed following the revolution], and the challenge of Reformists. These challenges still continue and the root of these challenges is belief.”
    • “Today we are in this crisis because 95 percent of the country’s budget is expended on material needs, which is unfortunately influenced by the Western model.”
    • “Religious government is responsible towards society’s religion and culture, and the system must act in a balanced with regards to this matter.”
  • The Supreme Leader’s Supreme Political Adviser, IRGC Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, addressed a gathering of Iran-Iraq war veterans yesterday:
    • “Acting upon the Qur’an, whether as an individual or as a group or as a government, is the savior of mankind. Governments that are based on the Qur’an are saviors.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif today defended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Act in Parliament:
    •  “The children of the nation proved that our missile and armament plans has nothing to do with the opinion of powers whatsoever and made it clear that if anyone must answer in the region, it must be America and the West.”
    • “It became clear to the six world powers that our enrichment and related research and development and fundamentally none of Iran’s nuclear installations will never be closed.”
    • “We have never and will never claim that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is completely to Iran’s benefit. Negotiating is fundamentally a give and talk”
    • “No one in the world says today that the Islamic Republic of Iran surrendered. If there is talk of surrender, it is the surrender of the great powers against the will of this great and courageous nation.”
    • “Financial and economic sanctions in banking, finance, oil, gas, petrochemical, trade, insurance, and transportation that were implemented by the European Union and America for the excuse of the nuclear program have been agreed to be completely lifted at the beginning of the agreement.”
    • “Iran’s access to trade, technology, finance, and energy will be facilitated.”
    • “Also, mentioning ballistic missiles have been transformed. Instead of saying ‘ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons,’ which is how they have been mentioned in all United Nations Security Council resolutions like resolutions 1540 and 1887, were transformed within a few days to the phrase ‘ballistic missiles designed for the capability of carrying nuclear weapons.”
    • “This agreement has no punishment set up. It is only a set up for the rolling back of sanctions over the course of a long period of 60 days.”
    • Sanctions will not return. We can nullify our commitment after 30 days. Those who want to roll back United Nations Security Council resolutions have to wait 30 more days.”
  • Senior nuclear negotiator and deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Eraghchi told Iranian national media:
    • “Anyone (Parliament or Security Council) that is responsible for this legal process can accept or reject this agreement in this entirety. It is not possible to reject or approve parts of this agreement.”
    • “In the missile matter, there are no obligations but were mentioned for five years. But we will do what needs to be done to increase our capabilities.”
    • “Per the request of the Security Council, we have not conducted any activities on missiles with the capability to carry nuclear warheads.”
  • Reuters reports: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called “very disturbing…very troubling” Supreme Leader Khamenei’s speech this past Saturday during which he vowed to continue the Islamic Republic’s anti-American policies.

Economy & Trade

  • Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht, Administration Spokesman, announced that $12 billion from Iran’s blocked assets with be released over the course of 22 months. He said:
    • “We cannot achieve eight percent growth with unfrozen assets.”
    • “These funds will be divested towards production and jobs, and we are seeking domestic and foreign investment, not additional imports.”
  • First Deputy to the President, Eshagh Jahangiri, discussed the future entry of multinational companies into the Iranian market:
    • “The same educated youth in the diplomatic department also exist in economic [policymaking]. They are young, intellectual, and valuable forces who think about Iran’s expansion.”
    • “[Only] those companies can work in the post-sanctions era who look at Iranian companies as partners and become joint partners not only for Iran but also for the world and region.”
    • “We do not intend to place the country’s market at the hands of foreign countries and expend the country’s currency on exports.”
    • “We will not of course have state-controlled closed policies. We will have open, clear, and transparent policies in investment and job creation.”
    • “The President has recently issued an order that I should spend time to think about the country’s banking system, because the country’s banking system is facing serious problems.”
  • An unnamed senior Ministry of Oil official announced the possibility of Japanese oil company Inpex’s return to Azadegan oil field, which had left as a result of multilateral sanctions against the Iranian energy sector.
  • Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nemat Zadeh, announced a significant increase in permit requests for establishing industrial units and investment in the country during the past year, calling it a sign that the environment is ripe for boom of and “job creation” in the private sector.
    • Nemat Zadeh appointed Yadhollah Sadeghi, Head of the Center for Guilds and Merchants Affairs, to Head of the Supreme Council for Supervising the Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture of Iran Secretariat.
      • The minister wrote in the edict: “It is expected that the conditions are created for strengthening the council’s activities with attention to the Secretariat’s important role in pursuing issued plans and regulations and also adjusting affairs related to the council’s duty and also creating the necessary coordination between the chambers of commerce, industries, mining and agriculture and also bodies that are members of the council.”

Photo(s) of the Day

  • Mehr News Agency displays images of Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif addressing an open session of Parliament.