Iran Press Review 22 July

Analysis by FDD

  • John Hannah, Senior Counselor, writes in Foreign Policy: “There was a lot to take issue with in President Barack Obama’s press conference defending his Iran deal last week, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But one of the biggest whoppers came near the end when Obama argued that “there is no scenario in which a U.S. president is not in a stronger position 12, 13, 15 years from now” to stop Iran from getting the bomb. On the contrary, he insisted that Iran will actually be “in a weaker position than they are today,” while America will not have “given away any of our military capabilities.” As a result, Obama maintained that the choices available to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons are actually “tougher today than they would be for that president 15 years from now.” It’s not clear precisely what underpins Obama’s remarkable certitude in this regard. In the press conference, he hinted at several factors. An effort by Iran to get nuclear weapons in 15 years, he noted, would “still be in violation of this deal and the commitments [Iran] made internationally.” Specifically, the president said, Iran’s obligation not to develop nuclear weapons “under the Non-Proliferation Treaty does not go away,” while “the Additional Protocol that they have to sign up for under this deal, which requires a more extensive inspection and verification mechanism … stays in place.” Moreover, the president pointed out that in 15 years, the United States will be “much more knowledgeable about what [Iran’s] capabilities are, much more knowledgeable about what their program is and still in a position to take whatever actions we would take today” to stop any effort by the mullahs to break out to a bomb.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “After more than a week of silence, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has weighed in on the nuclear agreement Tehran signed last week with the P5+1 negotiators. IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari gave a bellicose interview to the IRGC-linked Tasnim News Agency on Monday that casts doubt on Tehran’s long-term commitment to the agreement. First, Jafari asserted, “No Iranian official is opposed to negotiations and a good deal,” and dismissed the idea that there are disagreements among Iran’s ruling elites over the deal. However, he then proceeded to slam the UN Security Council resolution approved unanimously the same day: “Some elements in the draft are specifically contrary and opposed to the major red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in particular concerning arms capabilities, and we will never accept it.””

Politics

  • President Hassan Rouhani at a cabinet meeting discussed several matters related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and Iran’s internal and external future:
    • “Iran was seeking proof for its right to enrichment. Today the UNSC clearly accepted our country’s right to enrichment.”
    • “Although Iran’s agreement with the P5+1 creates limitations for some time, but, according to the opinion of experts, no harm is inflicted on the continuation and advancement of this technology in our country.”
    • “The counterpart claims that Iran will not be able to access a nuclear bomb in less than a year, but this is a laughable claim. Because the Iranian nation has never sought to build weapons of mass destruction and considers it against ethics, jurisprudence and the Supreme Leader’s fatwa. The construction of such weapons have no place in Iran’s security doctrine. If the repetition of this claim is considered a success for them, it is not an issue that they are happy from this success.”
    • “The United Nations and the Security Council issued a resolution that they no longer consider Iran a disruptor of global peace and security. This is a great success.”
    • “Even in a football match, when we say we won or lost, it means that we scored three goals against two. Some say that we could have used whatever opportunity to score more goals. But we must see what team we played against. We can make more demands if we sit on the sideline and watch the game as a fan.”
    • “This success and victory stems from God’s grace, the attentions of the Imam of the Age [12th Shi’a Imam Mahdi], the people’s perseverance and support, the Supreme Leader’s support, and all armed forces and the administration. We are proud of our negotiations team as they achieved something big in the political, technical, and legal arenas.”
    • “Constructive relations were key to resolving the matter and achieving victory. The administration from the beginning chose this path. We did not say, unlike others, that negotiating with them is fruitless. Neither did we believe that in the world of politics there is no path other than surrender. Although our nation will never surrender in defending its rights, we said that we can take a third path with constructive relations. This strategy showed its value during the interim Geneva agreement.”
    • “Today, the country’s situation must be a situation of hope, exhilaration, and a better environment for the future of jobs and economic growth. Those who seek production and exports must better view the future. Those who seek political and cultural expansion must be more hopeful. Those who seek better relations with neighbors and Muslims in the region can see its signs. Now the chapter has arrived for change, excitement, and hope in the arena of work and economy.”
    • “Those who think about the country’s strengthening in military and defense matters must see the hope ahead. Because Iran will undoubtedly be strengthened in the region. But this event will not harm any of neighboring Muslims countries. It is an imagination that if Iran is strengthened, it would interfere in the internal affairs of others. We consider meddling to be incorrect and wrong. We believe that the affairs of every country should be placed in their own hands. We will of course defend the oppressed. We will use all our capability to fight terrorism, which is a danger for the region and the world.”
  • Ali-Akbar Velayati, senior foreign policy adviser to the Supreme Leader, discussed the role of the Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] regarding JCPOA:
    • “The SNSC is the most supreme source for decision making regarding fundamental matters of the country’s national security, be they internal or external. All of its resolutions will ultimately be subjected to the Supreme Leader’s approval and signature.”
    • Responding to questions asked by a reporter on whether a Saudi official has threatened Iran:
      • “I also heard this from media and hope it is not true.”
      • “Greater countries than these countries do not dare break the sanctity of the great Iranian nation.”

Foreign Relations

  • The Times reports: Former Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, wrote in a recent letter to the editor: “People in my region now are relying on God’s will and consolidating their local capabilities and analyses with everyone except our oldest and most powerful ally.”  

Nuclear Issue

  • Abbas Eraghchi, senior nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister, answered media questions regarding Tehran’s position on JCPOA, UNSC resolutions, and relations with Washington:
    • “What strengthened us during the negotiations was the Supreme Leader’s warm precedence and his guidance and direction.”
    • “The [UNSC] resolution that was issued yesterday is very clear. The end date for UNSC’s resolution is very clear and there is no ambiguity.”
    • “The matter of implementing the agreement is as important as the negotiations. The administration is entirely dedicated to this matter.”
    • “We protested American officials and also P5+1 states so nothing takes place contrary to the agreement. But that they say they want to issue another resolution after another 10 years is not worthy of attention from our perspective.”
    • “We will pursue the implementation of the agreement. If we observe any violation, it has been determined in the structure of the agreement from which we can pursue it.”
    • “No institution as the power and capability to veto the Parliament’s decision. The Guardian Council only conforms the Parliament’s legislation with the Constitution and religious law. This means that if the Parliament makes a decision and if the legal path is taken through the Supreme National Security Council, it is only related to accepting or rejecting the entirety of the agreement. This means that none of the countries can change the clauses of the agreement and can only accept or reject it in its entirety.”
    • “We never expected a change in the policies of America towards Iran after the nuclear agreement. The American side must also not expect a change in the comprehensive policies of the Islamic Republic in the nuclear matter.”
    • “Whenever we reach the day of implementing the [Additional Protocol] the necessary access will be given to the [International Atomic Energy Agency]. Access to non-nuclear sites will be possible within the framework of international standards and the Protocol.”
    • “Today there are no sanctions regarding the armament matter, rather there are restrictions. In previous sanctions, selling and exporting any arms and importing and purchasing military equipment were prohibited. But in the new resolution, we must acquire a permit from the UNSC regarding the purchasing and selling of new weapons. This limitations will of course be ended after five years.”
    • “If the Agency gives its report earlier, it will have a positive effect and armament sanctions will end faster.”
    • “We will act on our policies wherever we consider [UNSC] resolutions to be against our own interest. The Foreign Ministry has issued a statement and clearly stated its position.”
    • “We have clearly announced that, from our perspective and the perspective of the Vienna agreement and even from the perspective of the resolution, there is a difference between the terms of the agreement and Security Council resolutions. Not observing the terms of the agreement has implications, and not observing resolution terms will have other implications.”
    • “Our position is clear. Not observing resolution terms does not mean a violation of the [nuclear] agreement. From our perspective, there is a large difference between these two.”
    • “We will not forgo any measures to secure our defensive needs towards preserving the country’s independence and sovereignty. In fighting terrorism and supporting our allies in the region, we will not back down from any efforts. The policies of the Islamic Republic have been clearly announced. We will remain committed to these policies.”
    • "One of the fundamentals of the Islamic Republic is the matter of fighting Arrogance [West] and has been continuously emphasized by the Supreme Leader.”
  • Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali-Akbar Salehi, spoke on cooperation with the IAEA:
    • “Even though we do not accept PMD [possible military dimensions], we will resolve this matter in a political-technical framework to prevent excuses.”
  • MP Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini, National Security and Foreign Policy Commission member, commented on the terms of the nuclear agreement:
    • “It is natural that the nuclear agreement has strong and weak pointed and cannot be considered completely good or completely bad.
    • “Iran’s certain right to enrichment inside Iranian soil has been formally recognized. This is one of the important achievements of the comprehensive agreement.”
    • “Limitations in research and development is one of the negative points of the comprehensive agreement.”
    • In a separate interview, Naghavi Hossein protested Parliament’s vote yesterday to establish a “Special Commission for Reviewing the Nuclear Agreement:”
      • “The matter of establishing the Special Commission for Reviewing the Nuclear Agreement was discussed in the security commission, and the majority of members protested this decision. They consider the security commission the primary commission for reviewing [the deal].”

Military & Security

  • Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, Head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Basij Organization, reacted to a perceived threat of military attack by a former senior Saudi official:
    • “This is one of the jokes of our day.”
  • IRGC Qods Force Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, met with Massoud Barzani, leader of Iraqi Kurdistan, reassuring him that the nuclear agreement does not change Iranian policy in Iraqi Kurdistan.
    • Soleimani also reportedly urged the Kurds to negotiate with Baghdad, saying: “both sides have no choice but to talk and reach an agreement.”
  • Young Journalists Club reports: According to Arab media outlets, Saudi Arabia has issued a confidential message to the Islamic Republic urging Tehran to cease its support of Yemeni Ansarallah Movement (popularly known as the Houthis). In return, Riyadh has reportedly promised to cease its support of Syrian rebel groups.
  • Fars News Agency, published a report on the “Defense Industries Research and Teaching Institute,” which is tasked with “acquiring awareness of the latest advances in military industries, weapons systems, and military equipment in the world and establishing the necessary communications with the related centers and institutions inside and outside the countries.”
     

Economy & Trade

  • Ali Tayeb-Nia, Minister of Economy and Finance, discussed soon-to-be unfrozen assets:
    • “Our reserves abroad may be close to $100 billion, but what is usable and accessible is the figure announced by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) head.”
    • “About $35 billion from the CBI currency reserve belongs to NICO, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company.”
    • “Approximately $22 billion from this figure belongs to a Chinese insurance company as collateral for securing Iran’s financial need and this is not usable. So the usable amount is less than $30 billion and is part of the CBI’s financial sources.”
  • Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Roads and Urban Development, lamented the lagging state of the infrastructure:
    • “The government cannot invest in infrastructural development for the next 10 years.”
    • “Under the best circumstances even if we sell three million barrels of oil per day, government revenue will be insufficient for the development of the necessary infrastructure.”
    • “We are so behind in infrastructures that we cannot do anything with public budgets…”
  • Head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture’s Industry and Mining Commission, Mehdi Pourghazi, met with German business representatives:
    • “German economic activists believed that beginning trade cooperation between the two countries is not possible before the end of 2015.”
    • “It seems that due to the condition of infrastructures, the necessary readiness to absorb [foreign] investment does not exist.”
  • An Iranian oil and petrochemical delegation travelled to Vienna to discuss new investment opportunities in the Iranian petrochemical sector following the lifting of sanctions.

Human Rights

  • A group of teachers protested the arrest of a union leader in front of Parliament. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) dispersed and arrested some of the protestors. Interior Ministry Spokesman, Hosseinali Amiri, said: “LEF arrested some of the individuals, but some hours later they were guests of the LEF for lunch and then freed. Although three or four who wanted to give this gathering a security direction have been held for further questioning.”

Photo(s) of the Day:

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the IRGC Qods Force, attends the funeral ceremony of former senior commander in the Iranian-backed Badr Corps, Abu Montazer al-Mohammadawi, which was held yesterday in Shahr-e Rey, Iran.