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Iran Press Review: 22 Dec.

Politics

  • Resalat-News reported comments by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts and interim Friday prayer leader for Tehran:
    • “The enemy does not know [the difference between] a principalist and a reformist…Satellite outlets instill that the Islamic system has been defeated, and from the beginning of the Revolution (of 1979), every year they give hope for the defeat of the Islamic Revolution, which with the grace of the blood of the martyrs, our Islamic system has grown stronger.”
  • Islamic Republic News Agency reports on the “creation of an organization to combat economic corruption.” It quoted Mohsen Alimardani, a Parliamentary representative for Zanjan as noting: “The joint committee for the investigation of this plan started its work about 6 months ago, and every week the sessions were held on Monday.”

Foreign Policy

  • Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, comments on regional issues in his interview with the Financial Times, as reported by Fars News Agency:
    • “Tehran will not be after the resumption of diplomatic ties with America, even if a nuclear agreement helps remove the tension between these sides.”
    • “Iran and America can behave in such a manner that they don’t use their energies in the region of the Middle East against each other. A nuclear agreement can be very useful in this regard, however everything is based off of America’s sincerity in nuclear discussions.”
    • On Iraq: “Today Iraq, and the people [lit. nation] of this country are much closer to Iran than before, and it has realized that Iran is that country’s strategic depth.
  • Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis],speaking at the Law College of Beirut University in Lebanon:
    • “The Presidency in Lebanon is a domestic issue, and other countries in this regard can only help.”
    • “We have welcomed any innovation for the unity of Lebanon, and we assess the recent discussions between Hezbollah and the al-Mostaghbel movement to be useful.”
    • “Iran and Lebanon have long-had a deep and strategic relationship.”
    • “The Islamic Republic of Iran has preserved this relationship at various points, because Lebanon was one of the influential countries of the region, and was able to stand against the Zionist regime during the 33-day war and showed that it has the capability to resist.”
    • “This is a great prize for the people of Lebanon that they have the flag of resistance in their hands, and they have exhibited a new strategy to the world of Islam.”
    • “Relations between Iran and Lebanon is based on principals, and joint-cooperation, and for the defense of all peoples.”
  • Further reporting on Ali Larijani’s trip to Lebanon, Tasnim News Agency runs a headline reading: “Larijani met with the Prime Minister and Head of the Parliament of Lebanon.”
  • Fars News Agency additionally provided extensive coverage of Ali Larijani’s trip to Syria:
    • Bashar al-Asad to Larijani: “Iran and Syria have been standing next to each other in various stages and have resisted in the face of difficulties... The two countries managed to defeat the schemes of the enemies and the terrorists.
    • Larijani to the Syrian Foreign Minister: “The resistance must revolve around the Syrian people.”
    • Larijani to the Syrian Prime Minister: “Israel is behind the crises in Syria and Iraq.”
    • Larijani comments on oil-prices at a joint press conference with the Speaker of the Syrian Parliament: “They wrongly think they can change important and strategic regional issues... We Iranians have endured greater hardships... We have different methods and scenarios to administer the country under different circumstances, but this time we shall not forget which countries conspired to lower the price of oil.”
  • Former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, weighs in Islamic unity, noting:
    • “Unfortunately the Islamic world, in all its eras, has been caught-up in various seditions, the clear examples of which include the appearance of Takfiri groups like the Taliban, Boko Haraam, and DAESH (the Persian and Arabic acronym for the Islamic State) in the present-age.”
  • Marziyeh Afkham, the Spokeswoman for Iran’s Foreign Minister,proclaims: “The victories of the Iraqi Army and popular forces against terrorism is source of satisfaction.”
  • AFP reported: “Iran has seized on Washington's historic rapprochement with Cuba after five decades of Cold War standoff as proof that big power sanctions do not work. "The defence by the Cuban government and people of their revolutionary ideals over the past 50 years shows that policies of isolation and sanctions imposed by the major powers against the wishes of independent nations are ineffective," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Akfham said.”
  • Reuters reported: “Syrian businessmen and trade officials say they are worried the economic lifeline provided by Iran is under strain from plunging oil prices, despite public messages of support from Syria's strongest regional ally. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has relied on oil-producing Iran to help him fight insurgents in a nearly four-year-old civil war and also prop up a currency under pressure.”
  • Press TV reports: “A delegation of Iranian parliamentarians is expected to head to the UK capital, London, in the near future for talks on full reopening of the British embassy in Tehran, a lawmaker says. Head of the Iran-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Group Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani said Sunday that the delegation would pay a visit to London in the coming months upon both verbal and written invitations from the British side.”

Military & Security

  • Fars News Agency cites reporting by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency about Iran’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities. It notes in its title: “By the end of 2015, Iran will attain Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.”
  • Mahmoud al-Zaher, a member of Hamas’s Political Office,notes:
    • “Solidifying relations with Tehran in order to strengthen the resistance is necessary, and is considered a service to the ideals of Palestine.”
  • Tasnim News Agency runs a headline quoting the Deputy-Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Sheikh Naem Qassem, proclaims: “Lebanese Hezbollah is equipped with target-hitting Iranian misisles.” Tasnim also provided the transcript of its in-depth interview.
  • Hossein Dehqan, Iran’s Defense Minister, notes during an interview with al-Alam TV:
    • “The events in Syria and Iraq primarily serve the purpose of securing Israel... People should know: When Israel, when its 50-day long aggression was pounding the Gaza Strip, the Islamic State did not show any reaction. We can therefore conclude, that what is happening in the region is the wish of Israel, the United States and the hegemonic regime. Whatever Israel does serves the purpose of weakening the Resistance Front.”
    • “In Occupied Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, the resistance currents have considerable military industrial infrastructure capable of engaging in all the phases of missile production. We too have occasionally cooperated with the resistance currents in the industrial and technological fields and have officially declared that we will cooperate with the resistance in these fields. The Supreme Leader too said that the West Bank of the Jordan River must be armed like the Gaza Strip.”
  • Former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Commander (IRGC), Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, brings up the ghosts of history with respect to a particular Iran-Iraq War era military operation in 1986 (Karbala 4).
  • Esmaeil Kowsari, the Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Defense Committee, weighs-in on next year’s defense budget:
    • “In next year's defense budget, the 14 to 15% increase which has been considered for salaries of personnel of other ministries, has also been allocated to the defense sector.”
  • Tasnim News Agency reports: “Three major European companies have voiced their readiness to sell radars and navigation equipment to Iran, an Iranian aviation official announced on Monday. Iran has had meetings with three major European companies from France, Italy, and Spain to purchase radar systems and navigation equipment for its airways and airports, Mohammad Ali Ilkhani, the managing director of the Iranian Airports Company (IAC) said.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Commenting specifically on the nuclear issue, Ali Shamkhani,notes:
    • On limits: “Negotiations with America will only be held on the nuclear area.”
    • Qualifying the value of the nuclear negotiations: “If a nuclear agreement is refused we will not cease to exist, and if we reach an agreement we will not be going to heaven.”
  • Ali Larijani on Iran’s ambitions:
    • “We again affirm that Iran is not seeking nuclear or chemical weapons.”
  • Islamic Republic News Agency runs a backgrounder on the importance of nuclear energy, noting:
    • “Analysts assess nuclear energy to be a requirement for today and a necessity for the future of all countries in the world.”
  • Tasnim News Agency reviews the commentary of Zibakalam and Shirzad with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, additionally providing a chart about nuclear power around the world.

Economy & Trade

  • Professor Hashem Pesaran comments on Iran's economy under President Hassan Rouhani:
    • “The Rouhani government was successful in reducing the inflation, and a degree of monetary discipline has been established. However, with regards to structural policies such as the price of energy, the banking sector and the role of the semi-governmental production facilities, no fundamental policy has been executed.”
    • “If the current situation [of nuclear negotiations] continues, Iran's economy will be moving towards liberalization of the economy. For example, non-oil exports will expand, in particular exports to Iran's neighboring countries such as China, India and North Africa will increase. On the other hand, Europe's economic growth is nearing negative [growth]. This issue taken into consideration, Iran has been lucky to redirect its exports from Europe to Asia and Africa. Asian countries have the greatest grow rates... Also in the field of oil exports we will gradually see increased [exports]. But of course, do not expect Iran's oil exports - even should the sanctions be removed - will be above 1.5 million barrels per day. Should the sanctions decrease, there will be no significant change. The worst scenario for Iran is increased sanctions, which I consider an unlikely scenario. Except this scenario, any other scenario would be in Iran's interest and will help Iran's economy. In my opinion, the most positive policy change which would benefit Iran, is if the United States government reaches a point, where it is capable of removing the banking sanctions. One can't trust the current Congress to remove the sanctions, but one can expect that the sanctions controlled by the president, will either be reduced or removed. This would be a significant help to Iran.”
    • “I don't believe Iran has the capacity to export [the correct term is likely “produce”] more than 2 million barrels per day... In the next two years, we must pay attention to non-oil sanctions, which are in Obama’s hands. Removal of the non-oil sanctions would help Iran greatly.”
  • Reuters reports: “A big oil price slide will hurt Iran's attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften its stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities. Economic misery due to sanctions and mismanagement has been a reality for years, and while social strains in the 76 million population are deep, the clerics will seek to contain them, say experts examining Iran's budget plans for 2015.”
  • UPI reports: “The Iraqi speaker of parliament said Monday from Syria his government was mindful of regional players working against Tehran in the global oil marketplace. Iran is trying to retool an economy stifled by Western economic sanctions and now the low price of oil, off about 45 percent from its June value. The price of oil Monday was around $61 per barrel. Iranian officials have said they are drafting a budget for the fiscal year that begins in March based on $70 per barrel.”

Human Rights

  • Human Rights Watch reports: “The Iranian government’s December 13, 2014 announcement that it will grant a six-month visa extension to 450,000 Afghans is a helpful move to prevent their imminent deportation, Human Rights Watch said today. However, the visa-extension plan is no substitute for an asylum system that will allow newly arriving Afghans to lodge refugee claims. An Iranian foreign ministry official described the visa extension plan as a reflection of Iran’s “brotherly relations” with Afghanistan. The official said that the Afghan government had agreed to devise an assistance plan for reintegrating the 450,000 Afghans when they return to Afghanistan. Under the Iranian plan, the previously undocumented Afghans will be able to apply for temporary visas and work.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Fars News Agency displays photos of members of the Iranian military mourning the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Mohammad.
  • The Islamic Republic News Agency displays photos from the 22nd and 23rd of December 1980, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq bombed the Iranian city of Abadan.