» Struggles in economy and opponents’ offensive technique
Rouhani and his team are committed to four more years of administration, but the opposing team will not make it easy for them, which means that the next presidential elections will not be settled before its beginning. The competition in the next elections will be focused on the economic domain, where Rouhani has not fulfilled his promises, even though official economic indicators show improvements and lower unemployment rate. However, the general feeling among Iranians is dissatisfaction with the economic and living conditions, and there is not enough time for Rouhani to work on improving those conditions. Thus, strong blows will be directed at Rouhani’s team in the economic domain.
An Editorial in Ebticar Newspaper Jan. 16th, 2017
» Increase of nuclear deterrence
Some political and security analysts have always said that Iran will include the nuclear weapons in its security theory. However, this decision has security and military dimensions because it aims at taking possession of the nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and ships with nuclear propulsion engines equipped with ballistic missiles. After the announcement of this decision, Russia, and the United States announced that the decision constitutes a violation of the nuclear deal. The postponement of this decision after the signing of the nuclear deal was the right move because it [nuclear deal] reduced the wave of anger and fear towards Iranian nuclear program. Thus, moving toward this strategy had less cost in the international community. Perhaps using the US Congress’s decision to extend sanctions against Iran as an excuse to make such decision was a correct step, relieving Iran of international responsibilities. Iran has developed a new strategy to expand its navy, with focusing on increasing its capacity and proliferation in the open seas and by using them to increase Iran’s deterrence capability–, which depends on the nuclear propulsion engines that will be supplied to Iranian ships.
An editorial in Shargh Newspaper Jan. 15th, 2017
» Political approach of Michel Aoun
Through analyzing the shifts in Lebanon and the region and, of course, the psychology of the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun’s political approach can be seen from different angles. Lebanon is going through the formation of the new political structure after the political vacuum that lasted for two years, and there is a deep fear among Lebanese people from the Saudi’s impact on Lebanon (according to the Iranian newspaper) through this formation process sought by Michel Aoun. Lebanon believes that Saudi Arabia puts pressure on other countries in the region to decide on the nature of their relations with Lebanon, putting political and economic pressure on those states. Aoun’s visit to Riyadh did not mean giving up his alliance with Hezbollah and Iran, but it was to convey Lebanese interests to the Saudi government and stave off Saudi Arabia’s impact on the formation of the new political structure in Lebanon.
An editorial in Siasat Rouz Newspaper Jan. 12th, 2017
♦ No more obstacles for JCPOA enforcement
Iran Foreign Minister Deputy announced that all obstacles in the path of JCPOA implementation have been removed. Abbas Araghchi added that all Iran’s assets in foreign banks are currently available. “We have had more than 80 thousand letters of credit and bank transfers in the past year, and around $26 billion have been moved, which shows financial system is at work.” Araghchi said that a part of banking problems is due to the remaining U.S. non-nuclear sanctions. However, “despite continuing sanctions for transactions with U.S. dollar, Iran has been able to create other channels for moving money,” continued Araghchi, “for instance, 600-million-Euro deal with Peugeot as well as buying air craft from Air Bus and Boeing.” As for relations with the upcoming U.S. State Department team, he stated “except for technical issues related to JCPOA implementation, sanctions and bank transactions, Iran has no other negotiations with U.S. authorities.”
♦ Iran Minister: Rafsanjani never asked me to run for president
Iran Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi has denied that Hashemi Rafsanjani had asked him to stand as a candidate for presidential election, calling it a “lie” and “libel”, reported ILNA. The news was published by a Telegram channel quoting Ghazizadeh as saying Rafsanjani had told him the “current political situation is not to the benefit of the government” and “an option for replacing Mr. Rouhani is necessary”, asking Ghazizadeh to run for presidential election.
♦ Economy Minister: government owes 700 thousand billion Tomans
Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance said that according to latest estimates, government’s debts have reached 600-700 thousand billion tomans, while in the beginning, it was estimated as 150 thousand billion tomans. Ali Tayebnia added that when the 11th government started to work, an office in Economy Ministry was formed to clearly find out the amount of government’s debts.
He continued that the biggest economic problem is that government is cash-strapped. Minister of Economic Affairs explained that in Iran, 20 to 30 thousand billion Tomans is spent on development project, while 42 thousand billion Tomans is distributed as cash subsidies among Iranian people.
Ali Tayebnia pointed out to unfair collection of taxes in the country, while high illogical tax exemptions are putting the industry and transparent economic sectors under a lot of pressure. He added that there are people who are transferring hundreds of millions of currency, and still do not have tax records.
♦ Nategh-Nouri is a good option for heading Expediency Council
Member of central council of Imam Assembly Forces talked about options that are proposed for replacing Hashemi Rafsanjani. Hadi Ghaffari believes that Nategh-Nouri would be a good choice for heading Expediency Discernment Council because of his moderation and more importantly not being accused of partisanship. He pointed out to Nategh-Nouri’s revolutionary records and the attention he received from both Khomeini and Khamenei, saying, “He is a worthy educated person who can be the best option.”
As for the possibility of Haddad Adel becoming head of Expediency Discernment Council, Ghaffari said, “Haddad Adel does not have any records in the revolution, and is by no means accepted by existing currents and parties. Moreover, as we saw, he was not elected to the parliament with all facilities he had in his possession. The leader will certainly not elect him.”
Ghaffari further mentioned Hashemi Rafsanjani’s role in not allowing Expediency Discernment Council get involved in political conflicts, because this Council is for “resolving those cases where there are differences between the parliament and the Guardian Council.” He added that head of this Council should have the approval of all political factions, not taking any sides in political disputes.
♦ Rafsanjani’s involvement in assassination of Shah’s Prime Minister
Hashemi Rafsanjani’s office has issued a statement against the comments of former conservative lawmaker Assadollah Badamchian. According to the statement, “some individuals” have said that during the Shah’s regime, Hashemi Rafsanjani provided the weapon for the assassination of Hassan Ali Mansour by the [Devotees] group. “This issue is not documented and lacks accuracy”, concludes the statement.
Hassan Ali Mansour was Iran’s Prime Minister from 1964 to 1965. He was assassinated in January 1965.
♦ Proposal for 10 times increase in Atomic Energy Organization budget
In a letter prepared by Iranian parliament’s Nuclear Committee, there is a proposal for 10 times increase in the budget proposed by Iran’s government for Atomic Energy Organization next year. Mojtaba Zolnour, head of parliament’s Nuclear Committee confirmed this news, saying, “We are certain that the proposed budget for Atomic Energy Organization is very low, and it is not clear how the budget will be spent.”
♦ Vaezi: Iran railroad to connect to Russia, Azerbaijan
Minister of Communication and Technology Mahmoud Vaezi emphasized the necessity of serious efforts to export from Alborz to Russia and Azerbaijan, saying that in an about a month, Astara railroad will be connected to these two countries, making transportation through this route very inexpensive.
♦ 4 billion cubic meters less water in Iran dams
Iran’s Ministry of Energy announced that since the beginning of this water year, 7 billion cubic meters of water has entered the country’s 169 dams, which is approximately 4.1 billion cubic meters less, compared to the same period last year. The amount of water that had entered the dams in the same period last year was more than 11 billion cubic meters, showing 37% decrease this year.
♦ IRGC spokesperson lambasts Tehran MP
Ramazan Sharif, the spokesperson for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has slammed Tehran Parliament Member, Ali Motahari, for his “disdainful comments.” MP Ali Motahari had recently said in an interview that “preventing JCPOA implementation through launching missiles, giving excuses to enemies by human rights [violations] and calling any opponent a seditionist has harmed our revolution.” Motahari added that such measures are done due to “unreason” or desire to “gain power at any price.” In reply, IRGC spokesperson called Tehran MP a “westernized” and “feeble-minded” person who “echoes the enemy’s voice”. Sharif continued that such comments about the “missile power of Islamic Iran” would disturb public opinion.
Fars News Agency
♦ Iranian Army: No relation between JCPOA and defending the country
Iran’s Chief Armed Forces spokesperson said that as “evil regimes threaten Iran; we have no choice but to reinforce our defense capabilities.” Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri added that there is no relation between JCPOA and defending the country. “Basically, the issue of defense has had no place in nuclear negotiations,” stressed Jazayeri, “authorities and members of negotiation team took this point into account and explained it to other parties in 5+1 as well.” Jazayeri also said that there might be some individuals who “out of ignorance” would disagree with strengthening defense abilities, including upgrading missile systems.
Fars News Agency
♦ Anti-aircraft fire sparks public curiosity in Tehran
A sound of continuous shootings by anti-aircraft weapons in central Tehran took people by surprise Monday afternoon. This was the second time in a month that antiaircraft guns had opened fire in Tehran. The authorities later announced that it was a “camera drone” both times. Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, Deputy Governor of Tehran for Security Affairs, told Fars news agency “the drone was flying close to a forbidden zone,” but it “flew away after the anti-aircraft shooting.” Alireza Elhami, the deputy commander of Iran’s air defense organization told people “not to worry” and that “what we saw was not any particular threat.” Sounds and images of the event, however, went viral on Iranian social media by people who expressed their shock as well as joked about it.
♦ We observe activities of Government’s opponents, says official
Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister for political affairs Ali Asghar Ahmadi made an announcement about “activities of government opponents on the brink of an election,” saying that the vice president for legal affairs observes such activities and if any crime is committed, it will be definitely prosecuted. Asked if the Popular Front of Revolution Forces has a permit for its activities, Ahmadi said factions with a valid permit could work together and inform the Article 10 Parties Commission that they work on a particular topic for a specific time.
♦ Ahmadinejad’s Intelligence Minister: Zarif made mistake
Heydar Moslehi, Ahmadinejad’s Minister of Intelligence, said that nuclear negotiations took two years, and “whenever we got closer to the time of negotiations, Obama talked of the military option.” Moslehi added, “Zarif made a mistake and said that the U.S. can destroy our military plants and facilities with pushing a button. At that time, I said we should show our military plants and facilities to him [Zarif] so that he can realize it is not like that.”
♦ 700 thousand more unemployed after JCPOA
There have been 700 thousand more unemployed after JCPOA, as the rate of unemployment from 10.7% in autumn of 2015 (before implementation of JCPOA) has reached to 12.7% in the summer of 2016, according to Statistical Center of Iran. One of the key promises of Hassan Rouhani from the beginning was resolving the issue of unemployment and creating jobs for the youth, and since the implementation of JCPOA, the same promise has been repeated. But, observing government’s policies from the beginning shows that the plan for creating jobs has been overlooked by the 11th government.
The government thought that with JCPOA, it can secure the economic interests of the country, and with unfreezing billions of dollars of Iranian assets and oil revenue, it can increase production growth, as well as oil and gas export in international markets. But what is certain is that oil-dependent economy will not benefit employment in Iran.
♦ Hassan Rouhani’s destiny in post-Hashemi era
Some believe that Hashemi was rather an emotional support and not a real source of power for reformists and moderates in Iran’s politics. This comes from Hashemi’s supporters. They think Hashemi has not been able to do anything in politics for a long time. However, this is not true. He had a decisive role in constructive moments, such as the 2013 presidential election. At the time, Hashemi became an ultra-pragmatic figure, helping to form Rouhani’s cabinet, as well as the two elections of a 10th parliament and Assembly of Experts, not to mention his role in the fruition of Rouhani’s central idea, JCPOA.
Therefore, Hassan Rouhani might be the best option. He has proved to be able to work with both factions. Post-Hashemi era has also started for Rouhani– he is a pragmatist and knows this is the only way left: he should have a new role.
♦ Iran must halt execution of 12 alleged drug offenders
Two independent human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human rights Watch, in a common statement, asked Iran to immediately stop executions of 12 male prisoners who are sentenced to death, on drug-related charges. These two organizations “expressed concern that despite repeated government promises, Iran has not made any tangible progress in reducing its alarming execution rate.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Division emphasized that hasty transfer of drug-related criminals to the gallows would only worsen the legal and judiciary conditions in Iran and will not resolve drug problems.
♦ Air pollution increases death rate
Member of Tehran City Council said that air pollution in Tehran has increased the rate of mortality in Tehran, mentioning that despite 21 government organizations that are responsible in this regard, none of them is accountable. Abulfazl Ghana’ati emphasized that air pollution is a major concern for all those who live in Tehran, causing loss of life in sensitive people from different age ranges. “Statistics from Behesht Zahra [Tehran’s cemetery] show that on days with air pollution, the rate of citizens’ mortality goes up,” added a member of Tehran City Council.
♦ Europe’s serious message to U.S. about JCPOA
Extending Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) by the U.S. has created differences between Tehran and Washington about implementing JCPOA, which was the main topic in the meeting of a joint commission of P5+1 and Iran in Vienna. ISA which was going to terminate by the end of 2016 was extended by radical oppositions in the U.S. Congress. Iran considered it as a violation of JCPOA, asking joint commission of P5+1 to address the issue.
European members of P5+1 that unanimously support maintaining JCPOA issued a statement warning the U.S. to stay committed to Obama’s executive order in this regard. These members that have their own interests in mind are after protecting it against the U.S. They have used Iran’s protesting extension of ISA to warn new U.S. president in this regard.
♦ U.S. senate, House to call IRGC foreign terrorist group
U.S Senators Ted Cruz and Jim Inhofe proposed a bill, demanding U.S. State Department to recognize Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. In the bill’s draft, it is suggested that IRGC matches U.S. laws’ standards for recognizing the foreign terrorist organization. After ratification of the bill, U.S. Secretary of State will have 30 days to decide on enlisting IRGC as a foreign terrorist group or not.
A similar bill was also proposed by U.S. Representative Michael McCaul. He said that if an organization looks and acts like a terrorist group, and supports terrorism, then it should be called a terrorist organization. He emphasized that in recent years, Quds Force has trained groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, thus endangering U.S. Allies and its national security in the region. Michael McCaul added, “It is time to hold the Ayatollahs accountable.”
♦ Rafsanjani’s death to leave no vacuum in Clergy Association
Spokesperson of Tehran Combatant Clergy Association, Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, said that due to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s absence from this Association’s meetings for many years, there would be no vacuum in Combatant Clergy Association after Rafsanjani’s death. Mesbahi Moghadam added that even though there were no obstacles for Rafsanjani’s participation in meetings of Combatant Clergy Association, he himself had said that he could not take part in these meetings for security reasons.
♦ Gas Export Company dissolved
By the order of Oil Minister, National Iranian Gas Export Company was officially dissolved. In continuation of structural changes to the body of Iran’s National Oil Company, a new management under the title of “Gas Export” was launched in this company.
Oil Minister Bizhan Zanganeh had said earlier that Gas Export Company would be dissolved and replaced with a management in National Oil Company, as some were after its privatization.
♦ 238 work-related deaths in Tehran
During 8 months, 238 work-related deaths– 233 men and 5 women– were reported to centers of General Office of Legal Medicine in Tehran, according to the head of this office. Massoud Ghadi Pasha said that this number shows 7.1% decline compared to the same period last year.
♦ ‘Trump will be Gorbachev for U.S.’, says IRGC official
IRGC cultural deputy said that those who believed that sanctions would be lifted by shutting down nuclear facilities should apologize to people for raising doubts. Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi added that since the beginning of nuclear negotiations, the U.S. has passed a bill against Iran every month. He urged that “we had to pay the price of negotiations to end all doubts.” Naghdi stated, “Today people know that those who talk of negotiating with the U.S. are traitors.”
IRGC cultural deputy also predicted that the new U.S. president, by disrupting all trade relations in his country, will be another Gorbachev for America, destroying the country with his decisions.
♦ Parliament’s legislation: Government bound to increase missile capabilities
The Iranian parliament has passed bills during the review of 6th Development Plan which, if approved by the Guardian Council, will bound the government to add 5% from “public budget” to defense budget, for “developing and increasing missile capabilities.”
According to this bill, the government must take necessary measures in “developing and increasing capabilities in producing missiles, developing and strengthening air defense, as well as facilities for cyber war and defense, and developing and updating capabilities in producing drones and arming them.” Furthermore, “modernizing military aircraft, developing naval fleet, as well as the quantitative and qualitative strengthening of Basij forces” are among other upcoming government undertakings.
The UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons until the date 8 years after JCPOA adoption day.
♦ Business relations between ExxonMobil and Iran
According to USA TODAY, ExxonMobil used to do business with Iran, Sudan and Syria while Rex Tillerson was the CEO of the oil giant company. Those three countries were under U.S. sanctions at the time. ExxonMobil told USA TODAY the transactions were legal because they were done via a European subsidiary, and no U.S. institution or person was involved. The sales were conducted in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by Infineum, in which ExxonMobil owned a 50% share, according to a Democratic research group. Rex Tillerson, who has close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is currently President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State.
Fars News Agency
♦ 5+1 Approves transfer of huge shipment of uranium to Iran
Two senior diplomats have told the New York Times that U.S. and five other world powers have approved the transfer of a significant amount of natural uranium to Iran, reported Tasnim News Agency. Transferring natural uranium to Iran is in exchange for this country’s exporting tons of its heavy water abroad, say the New York Times sources. According to this report, Russia is to deliver 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium to Iran.