Posts Tagged ‘Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’

Iran election campaign kicks off after Ahmadinejad excluded by supreme leader

April 21, 2017


© AFP/File / by Eric RANDOLPH and Ali NOORANI | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gestures to the camera after registering to run for re-election in Tehran on April 14, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) –  Campaigning began on Friday for Iran’s presidential election with incumbent Hassan Rouhani facing a tough battle against hardliners, though not from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was barred from standing.

Ahmadinejad’s disqualification by the conservative-run Guardian Council was no surprise — he had been advised not to run by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said it would “polarise” the nation.

Ahmadinejad’s populist economics and defiant attitude to the establishment had alienated even his hardline backers during his tenure between 2005 and 2013.

“Once the supreme leader had told him not to stand, it became impossible for him to be cleared by the Guardian Council,” said Clement Therme, research fellow for Iran at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“By his second term, (Ahmadinejad) was even challenging the clerics. He was not useful anymore for the system.”

The mood in Tehran has been subdued — many are disillusioned with Rouhani’s failure to kick-start the economy despite broad support for his efforts to rebuild ties with the West, notably through a nuclear deal with world powers that ended many sanctions.

The election commission ruled on Thursday that live TV debates would be banned, without giving a reason — a decision criticised by Rouhani and other candidates.

Campaigning, which the Guardian Council announced could begin immediately, had not been supposed to start for another week, so little activity was expected on Friday.

But experts say the authorities are keen to excite interest in the vote.

“They need that for legitimacy — the turnout is even more important than the result,” said Therme.

Iran’s elections are tightly controlled, with the Guardian Council allowing just six people — and no women — to stand for the May 19 vote out of 1,636 hopefuls that registered last week.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, a run-off between the top two is held a week later.

Rouhani, a politically moderate cleric, squeaked to victory last time with 51 percent in the first round, helped by a divided conservative camp.

The Guardian Council has resisted efforts by Iran’s parliament, the Majles, to clarify the criteria by which they choose candidates.

The constitution adopted after the 1979 revolution offers only vague guidelines that candidates should possess “administrative capacity and resourcefulness… trustworthiness and piety”.

– Hardline competition –

The build-up to the vote has injected more interest than many predicted just a couple of months ago, when Rouhani was seen as a shoo-in for a second term if only because the conservative opposition seemed unable to offer a strong candidate.

Since then, the 56-year-old former judge and cleric Ebrahim Raisi has emerged as a front-runner for the conservatives.

Little-known on the political scene, Raisi runs a powerful religious foundation and business empire in the holy city of Mashhad and is seen as a close ally of — and possible successor to — supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But despite emphasising his care for the poor, many say Raisi’s hardline judicial background and entourage will turn off voters.

“He seems like a good and calm person himself, but the people around him are scary,” said a tour operator in Yazd, echoing a widely heard sentiment.

Some think he may drop out at the last minute in favour of Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who came second to Rouhani in 2013.

Ghalibaf is a war veteran, former Revolutionary Guards commander and police chief — and could be the preferred choice of powerful backroom hardliners.

The other three candidates have been less prominent so far.

They include two moderate reformists, Mostafa Hashemitaba and vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri, and a veteran hardliner Mostafa Mirsalim — a selection that appears designed to give an even balance to moderates and hardliners in the upcoming debates.

– ‘Took risks’ –

There were mixed reactions to Ahmadinejad’s disqualification.

Despite controversial rhetoric against Israel that worsened ties with the West, and somewhat reckless financial management, he retained considerable popularity, particularly among the poor.

“I think Ahmadinejad should not have been disqualified,” said Mohammad Barkhordar, 20, doing his military service.

“He was the kind of president that took risks, like distributing money among people and giving houses to the poor, and he had big ambitions for Iran’s nuclear programme. Rouhani doesn’t take any risks.”

But many were glad to see the back of him.

“It was right for Ahmadinejad to be disqualified but it happened 12 years too late,” said one Twitter user.


What would hard-liner Raisi mean for Iran and the world?

April 15, 2017


© AFP / by Eric Randolph and Ali Noorani | Iranian cleric Ebrahim Raisi announced his candidacy for next month’s presidential vote on Friday
TEHRAN (AFP) – Ebrahim Raisi, the leading candidate for Iran’s hardliners in next month’s presidential election, has left many wondering whether the country’s fragile opening to the West could be under threat.The 56-year-old judge and cleric registered on Friday for the May 19 vote and his candidacy is being closely watched by foreign investors and diplomats who fear the return of a hardline administration that could threaten the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and efforts to open up trade.

So far, Raisi has given little indication of his views on foreign policy, keeping his comments vague and predictable.

“Our relations will be ongoing with every country — except the occupying regime of Israel — but on condition of respect,” he said Friday.

Analysts describe Raisi as utterly loyal to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meaning he would likely remain deeply suspicious of engagement with the West but unlikely to backtrack on the nuclear deal, which had the boss’s tacit consent.

“He has no experience in foreign policy, so at least initially he will have to follow the system’s grand strategy of preserving the nuclear deal and shifting any blame of undermining it to the US,” said Ali Vaez, Iran analyst for the International Crisis Group.

– Entrenched conservative –

Raisi is entrenched in the conservative establishment, having served as attorney general, supervisor of state broadcaster IRIB and prosecutor in the Special Court for Clerics.

Press reports indicate he has recently been elevated to the status of “ayatollah”.

His father-in-law leads Friday prayers in Mashhad and both have seats on the Assembly of Experts that will choose the next supreme leader — a position for which Raisi himself is often rumoured to be in the running.

There is little chance he will ease social restrictions or release opposition leaders held under house arrest since the 2009 protest movement, known to conservatives as “the sedition”.

“The Islamic System has treated the heads of the sedition with mercy. Those who sympathise with the heads of sedition must know that the great nation of Iran will never forgive this great injustice,” he said in 2014.

Crucially, Khamenei picked him in March 2016 to head Astan Qods Razavi — the centuries-old foundation that looks after the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad — placing him at the intersection of political, religious and economic power.

The foundation hosts 20 million pilgrims a year at the shrine, and has also developed into a sprawling, multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that runs everything from farms and power plants to brokerages and IT firms.

– Why is he running? –

One big question is why Raisi would risk a run for the presidency if he has ambitions to become supreme leader as many speculate.

“If he loses, his status will be damaged, so it seems like a big risk,” said a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.

“Moreover, all presidents end up facing criticism from the supreme leader — that’s how the system is set up — so why put himself in that position?”

The presidency could provide a stepping stone to the top — as it was for Khamenei in the 1980s.

“But if he loses to the incumbent, who has no rivals in his own camp and has remarkable executive credentials, Raisi’s future rise to the peak will be in question,” said Vaez.

For now, Raisi has focused on domestic economic issues, playing to the conservative base among poorer, more religious voters.

“Despite four decades of the Islamic system and many promising achievements, people are still suffering chronic problems,” he said when announcing his bid last week.

The 12 percent jobless rate and slow trickle down of benefits from the nuclear deal are seen as Rouhani’s weak spots.

“Raisi’s lifestyle is modest and he regularly stays with the poor sections of society, while Mr Rouhani has more of an aristocratic, comfort-seeking spirit,” said Hamid Reza Taraghi, a member of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party.

His opponents are unimpressed.

“Mr Raisi has absolutely no plan to manage the country. Even (former hardline president Mahmud) Ahmadinejad had more experience and he was disastrous for the economy,” said reformist Tehran-based economist Saeed Laylaz.

by Eric Randolph and Ali Noorani

Iran’s Ahmadinejad registers to run for president

April 12, 2017



© AFP / by Ali NOORANI | Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashes the victory sign at the interior ministry’s election headquarters on April 12, 2017, as candidates sign up for the upcoming presidential elections

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the shock move on Wednesday of registering for next month’s presidential election, going against the advice of the supreme leader.Ahmadinejad had previously insisted he would not stand after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last year that his candidacy would have a “polarising” effect on the nation, and instead backed his ex-deputy Hamid Baghaie.

But the former president — whose tenure between 2005 and 2013 saw mass protests at home, plummeting relations with the West and a shattered economy — surprised everyone when he registered along with Baghaie on Wednesday.

He told reporters at the interior ministry, where registration was taking place, that he remained committed to his “moral promise” to Khamenei of not running for the May 19 election.

But he said Khamenei’s “advice was not a ban,” he said.

“I repeat that I am committed to my moral promise and my presence and registration is only to support Mr Baghaie,” he added without explanation.

Only last week, flanked by his former deputy at his first press conference in four years, Ahmadinejad said he had “no plans to present myself. I support Mr Baghaie as the best candidate.”

The formal registration period for presidential hopefuls began Tuesday and will continue until Saturday evening, after which candidates are vetted by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, with a final list announced on April 27.

So far, 197 people have registered to run in the May 19 vote, eight of them women. No woman has ever been allowed to stand for the presidency in the Islamic republic.

– End for Ahmadinejad? –

Ahmadinejad lost the support of many mainstream conservatives during his contentious presidency, and some said Wednesday that violating the supreme leader’s advice was a final straw.

“With today’s move — registering for the presidential election, my belief in you was broken,” ex-lawmaker and Ahmadinejad loyalist Mehdi Koochakzadeh wrote on social media.

“End of Ahmadinejad,” tweeted Elyas Naderan, another conservative former MP.

The conservatives have been struggling to unite around a single candidate to rival President Hassan Rouhani, who is expected to register in the coming days.

Conservatives held a mass meeting last week at which they shortlisted five candidates, who will be narrowed down to one before the vote.

Ebrahim Raisi, a judge who currently runs the powerful Imam Reza charitable foundation in the holy city of Mashhad, won the most votes.

Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was also on the list, but it remains unclear if he will make his third bid for the presidency.

Rouhani has stabilised the economy and ended some sanctions through a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

But many Iranians are frustrated by the continued lack of investment in the economy and a jobless rate that remains at 12 percent.

Rouhani’s administration argues it inherited a devastated economic landscape — the result of Ahmadinejad’s populist economic policies that included monthly cash handouts and ill-fated housing projects.

But these policies have also ensured Ahmadinejad, 60, retains considerable popularity, particularly among the poor, potentially undermining attempts by conservatives to unite their base around a mainstream candidate.


Khamenei fleshes out ‘Made in Iran’ vision — Iran is the New China — “Make Iran Great Again”

March 21, 2017


© KHAMENEI.IR/AFP | Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issues the annual Nowruz address from Tehran, on March 20, 2017 
TEHRAN (AFP) – Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei fleshed out his vision of a “Made in Iran” economy Tuesday, calling for a ban on certain imports and an end to the $15-billion smuggling trade.

The annual speech on the first day of the Persian year serves as a sort of Iranian equivalent to the US State of the Union address, and Khamenei used it to provide more details about his calls for a self-sufficient “resistance economy” that has been his main theme in recent months.

“The importing of products where an Iranian equivalent exists should be considered religiously and legally haram (forbidden),” he told a huge crowd in the holy city of Mashhad.

He took aim at Iran’s rampant black market in smuggled goods, which he said was worth at least $15 billion annually.

“Some speak of $20-25 billion,” he said.

“We want greatness for our country, social well-being and security at the national level. Without a strong economy we cannot achieve all that.”

Khamenei said President Hassan Rouhani’s government deserved credit for its economic achievements over the past year, but his praise was guarded.

“Certain official figures do not convince the public. We must redouble our efforts. The statistics show that inflation has fallen but at the same time unemployment has risen,” he said.

Rouhani, who is expected to stand for a second term in May, has touted his successes in reducing inflation from 40 percent to less than 10 percent, and ending global sanctions through a nuclear deal with world powers.

But while that has led to a boost in oil sales and growth of more than six percent, much of the economy remains stagnant.

Analysts say deep structural reforms are needed, particularly in the banking sector.

Global banks still refuse to finance large-scale foreign investments in Iran, fearing its murky business environment and uncertainty over continuing US sanctions.

Iran Supreme Leader Calls on Palestinians to Pursue Intifada Against Israel — Calls the Israeli government a “cancerous tumor” — Says All Muslim nations should support Palestinian resistance

February 21, 2017

BEIRUT — Iran’s Supreme Leader called on Palestinians on Tuesday to pursue an uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “cancerous tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were completely liberated.

“… by Allah’s permission, we will see that this intifada will begin a very important chapter in the history of fighting and that it will inflict another defeat on that usurping regime,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to his website.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the remarks at the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) in Tehran on Tuesday, Press TV reported. (AP)

The Supreme Leader’s bellicose comments, made during a two-day conference in Tehran focused on its support for the Palestinians, come at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric between Iran, Israel and the United States.

While on a visit to Washington last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News that Israel and the United States had a “grand mission” to confront the threat of a nuclear Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump has already been highly critical of a deal hammered out between Iran and world powers, including the United States, in 2015 intended to partially lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Iran says its program is for purely peaceful means.

When Iran carried out a ballistic missile test in late January, Trump’s then national security adviser Mike Flynn said the administration was putting Iran “on notice”.

Ordinary Iranians have been posting their concerns about a possible military confrontation between Iran and the United States on social media.

Khamenei did not mention any Iranian military attack against Israel in his comments on Tuesday and was focused on gains that Palestinians could make in any confrontation with Israel, which he described as tumor developing into “the current disaster”.

“The Palestinian intifada continues to gallop forward in a thunderous manner so that it can achieve its other goals until the complete liberation of Palestine,” he said, according to the transcript of the speech posted on his website.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Alison Williams)


Muslim nations should support Palestinian resistance: Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei

WORLD Updated: Feb 21, 2017 19:11 IST

IANS, Tehran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday said all Muslim countries have a responsibility to support Palestinian resistance, which should be a source of unity in the Islamic world.

Khamenei made the remarks at the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) in Tehran on Tuesday, Press TV reported.

“Despite the differences that exist among Islamic countries — some of these differences are natural, some originate from the enemy’s plot and the rest are because of negligence — the issue of Palestine can and should be the pivot of unity for all Islamic countries,” he said.

Palestine has been the site of increased tensions since last August, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds, according to the report.

Protests against the restrictions have been met with a deadly Israeli crackdown, which has in turn prompted strengthened Palestinian resistance, known as the third Palestinian intifada.

Khamenei pointed to the phased development of the Israeli occupation and said the cure for the disaster should also come in stages. “From the beginning, this cancerous tumour has been developing in several phases until it turned into the current disaster. The cure for this tumour should be developed in phases as well,” Khamenei said.

He said that as long as the name and memory of Palestine and resistance are preserved, it will be impossible for the Israeli regime to strengthen its foundations.

“The creation of Israel has been the plot hatched by extra-regional powers, and ‘this has caused the fake being (Israel) to replace the real being (Palestine)’ in the region,” Khamenei said.

He added that the “dangers originating from the presence of the Zionist regime should never be ignored” neither should the needs of resistance in the West Bank, “because the West Bank shoulders the main burden” of intifada.

“Supporting the resistance is the responsibility of all of us,” Khamenei said, adding, “No one has the right to have special expectations of them in return for assistance.”

Around 700 foreign guests and representatives of pro-Palestinian organisations participated in the conference in Tehran. Among other participants in the conference were senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.

Donald Trump’s stance on Iran nuclear deal could mean trouble ahead

February 8, 2017


February 8, 2017

United States President Donald Trump will find it difficult, if not impossible, to force Iran to renegotiate its nuclear agreement with six world powers, despite warning signs that Iran continues to flout its international obligations.

Key points:

  • Donald Trump tweets Iran is “#1 in terror”, questions nuclear agreement
  • Analysts say it’ll take more than US to rewrite deal
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader ridicules Mr Trump, says the country is “thankful to this newcomer”

Tehran’s provocative test of another ballistic missile last week has prompted the Trump administration into imposing new economic sanctions against Iran.

It has also strengthened the already hardline stance against Iran among key members of the new administration, including Mr Trump.

Overnight Mr Trump tweeted, “Iran, #1 in terror”, and questioned how the 2015 agreement was ever signed.

But even the White House has acknowledged the latest missile test was not strictly a violation of the nuclear pact. And analysts say it will take more than the US to rewrite the deal.

“It’s a multilateral agreement, it’s not a bilateral agreement”, Dr Roger Shanahan from Australia’s Lowy Institute said.

“He can try to renegotiate it but it will take all the negotiating partners to agree to that. And I can’t see that happening.

“So, I don’t think there’s really going to be much substantively done about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

“There might be some changes around the fringes of making a stricter checking regime, but I don’t think substantively it’s going to be impacted on.”

Nevertheless, Mr Trump’s words show, at the very least, a shift in the US towards a much more strident tone against Iran, which could mean trouble ahead.

Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!

“I think what we’ve seen from President Trump is just a further indication of at least the rhetoric that they’re going to adopt against Iran, in the near future,” Dr Shanahan said.

He cited the stance of the new US Defence Secretary James Mattis and the National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom in recent days have accused Iran of “state-sponsored terrorism”.

“Since the Obama administration agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran in 2015, Iran’s belligerent and lawless behaviour has only increased,” Mr Flynn said in a statement announcing the sanctions.

“The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behaviour.

“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.”

Iran ‘thankful to this newcomer’

The latest sanctions target 25 Iranian companies and individuals that provide support to Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.

But Dr Shanahan said the US was limited in what more it could do to rein in Iran’s military ambitions.

“I think in the short term we’ll probably just see a bit of posturing,” he said.

“You’ll see a ramping up of the rhetoric to let Iran know that there’s a different kind of view in Washington these days.

“They have to define exactly what they want to achieve. Just saying rolling back Iranian influence in the region is virtually an unachievable aim. Because it exerts influence in a range of ways, just as other countries in the region exert influence.

“I don’t think we’ll see too much action in the short term.

“We also have to understand that there’s a presidential election in Iran in May this year. Any kind of strengthening of language from Washington may help conservatives politically in Iran.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei has ridiculed Mr Trump since he took office.

“We are thankful to this newcomer,” he said in a speech to military leaders in Tehran.

“He has proven what we have been saying for more than 30 years. We would always speak about the political, economic, moral, and social corruption in the US administration. This man revealed it during the election campaign, and since then.

“His actions now have demonstrated the reality of America and the meaning of American human rights.”

Iran has refused to renegotiate the nuclear agreement.

Topics: world-politics, government-and-politics, environment, nuclear-issues, iran-islamic-republic-of, united-states


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North Korean missile launch Feb 7 2016

Iran pulls missile from launchpad after apparent prep for launch, US officials say

February 7, 2017

Iran removed a powerful missile from a launchpad east of Tehran within the past few days, Fox News has learned, as U.S. and Iranian officials continued trading public barbs about the Islamic Republic’s missile tests.


The Pentagon is concerned because Safir missiles use the same components as those needed for an intercontinental ballistic missile. Iran’s ballistic program has “expanded dramatically” in the past 10 years, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

New satellite imagery from Feb. 3, obtained exclusively by Fox News from ImageSat International and verified by U.S. officials, showed Iran preparing a Safir for launch. That missile is the type Iran has previously used to put a satellite into space.


It has been two years since Iran has launched a Safir into space, according to officials. But there has been a flurry of activity on an Iranian launchpad that U.S. officials have been watching closely, since the launch of a ballistic missile from the site last week.

In a surprising about face, Fox News learned Tuesday morning that Iran’s missile had been removed from the launchpad. It was not immediately clear why.

On Jan. 29, Iran launched a new type of medium-range ballistic missile prompting an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 31. A day later the White House issued a strongly worded statement from National Security Adviser Mike Flynn putting Iran “on notice.” President Trump tweeted a similar statement soon after.

Days later, American intelligence officials watched as Iran quickly cleaned up the site and prepared another missile on the same launchpad near Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran, before it was removed.

ImageSat International reported a “missile integrations facility” near the launchpad that is normally quiet had a host of visitors on February 3, when the new missile showed up on the launchpad. Another satellite photo showed an additional Iranian missile launcher and nine vehicles in the desert not far from the launchpad.

“The specific aspect of the Safir that is useful from an ICBM perspective is learning how to stage a missile, basically stacking one missile atop another,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. “Other than that, though, it’s really a space launcher.”

On Friday, the same day the satellite photos showed the new Safir missile on the launchpad, the White House announced new sanctions against 13 Iranian individuals and 12 Iranian companies tied to its missile program.

Iran’s Supreme Leader on Tuesday issued a new warning to the White House about the coming 38th anniversary of Iran’s Revolution this Friday.

“No enemy can paralyze the Iranian nation,” Khamenei said. “[Trump] says ‘you should be afraid of me’. No! The Iranian people will respond to his words on Feb. 10 and will show their stance against such threats,” according to Reuters.

Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!

Speaking in Tokyo on his first overseas trip, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called Iran the “single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

The view was shared by former President Barack Obama’s State Dept. in its last terrorism report issued in June. The report listed Iran first as a state sponsor of terrorism along with Sudan and Syria.

On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called Iran’s recent ballistic missile launch “very dangerous” and said the launch “should not have happened,” and agreed with President Trump that new sanctions on the Islamic Republic were needed.

Also Sunday, Iran fired off five advanced surface-to-air missiles as part of a military exercise Sunday, two US officials told Fox News. The Iranian Sayyad  — or “Hunter” — missiles were launched from Dasht-e Kavir, a remote area 45 miles south of Semnan, the location of last week’s ballistic missile launch. Officials said the tests were successful.

U.N. Resolution 2231 calls upon Iran not to conduct ballistic missile tests — but does not forbid the nation from doing so. The resolution went into effect days after the landmark nuclear deal with signed with Western nations including the U.S.

Iran has placed four satellites into orbit since 2009, according to, which says the Iranian Safir missile closely resembles Iran’s Shahab–3 ballistic missile, based on North Korea’s Nodong missile. The website is run by the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.

In his book “The Field of Fight,” Flynn writes about Iran: “For nearly forty years every American administration has permitted the Islamic Republic to build up its strength, and even organize assassinations in our capital. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan either directly sold weapons to Iran, or enabled others to do it.”

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenGriffinFNC.


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North Korean missile launch Feb 7 2016

Iran Says “We are thankful to Mr. Newcomer, Donald Trump” — “He has shown the real face of the U.S.” — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei does some gloating

February 7, 2017

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader said Tuesday that “newcomer” President Donald Trump had shown the “real face” of the United States, after the American leader accused Iran of being ungrateful for sanctions relief approved by the Obama administration and vowed a tougher stance.

Last week, after Iran tested a ballistic missile, Trump tweeted that the country was “playing with fire,” saying they “don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President (Barack) Obama was to them. Not me!”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who makes the final decisions on all major policies in Iran, appeared to respond to the tweet in a remarks carried by State TV. “Why should we be thankful to the previous U.S. administration?” he said. “Because it imposed anti-Iranian sanctions? Because of the extremist Islamic State group? Setting the region on fire in Iraq and Syria?”

He went on to mock Trump, saying: “We are thankful to Mr. Newcomer, of course, since he has shown the real face of the U.S. and proved what Iran has said for 38 years about the political, economic, social and moral corruption of the U.S. government.”

He added that the Iranian people “are not afraid of any threat.”

Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers, in which Tehran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, but he has not said what he plans to do about it.

His administration said Iran was “on notice” over the missile test, and imposed new sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian companies and individuals.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who has worked to improve relations with the West, said earlier Tuesday that the nuclear agreement could serve as a blueprint for resolving other Middle East disputes.

As an example, he pointed to Russian-led negotiations in Kazakhstan aimed at firming up a shaky Syrian cease-fire and paving the way for the revival of peace talks to end that country’s nearly six-year civil war. Iran and Russia are close allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while the U.S. and other Western countries support the rebels fighting to topple him.



Iran’s Supreme Leader Sarcastically Thanks Trump for Showing America’s ‘Real Face’

TEHRAN — As Iran tries to calibrate how to deal with President Trump, its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in caustic comments to air force commanders, thanked the new American leader for revealing “the real face” of the United States.

“We are grateful to this gentleman who has come!” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to a report posted on his official website.

Iranian officials have shown caution since Mr. Trump took office last month; despite expressing anger at his policies and comments, even hard-liners have taken care not to provoke the new American president.

Mr. Trump included Iran on a list of seven predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens have been barred from entering the United States, and his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, warned Tehran last week that it had been put “on notice” after a missile test. Washington also imposed new economic sanctions on 25 people and entities after the missile launch.

“The things we have been saying over the past 30-some years — political, economic, moral and social corruption in the American administration — this man came and exposed them during his election campaign and afterwards,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to the text of the speech.


Desperate search for trapped Iran firefighters

January 20, 2017


© AFP | An Iranian firefighters walks amidst the debris of Iran’s oldest high-rise, the 15-storey Plasco building in downtown Tehran on January 19, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) – Rescue workers pressed a desperate search on Friday for around 20 firefighters trapped under the rubble of a Tehran high-rise that collapsed the previous day.

One firefighter, who had managed to escape the 15-storey Plasco building before it fell, died in hospital from severe burns, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The building, which was Iran’s oldest high-rise and contained a shopping centre and hundreds of clothing suppliers, came down after a four-hour blaze.

Rescue workers, soldiers and sniffer dogs worked through the night in a desperate bid to locate around 20 firefighters who were still inside when it collapsed.

They had so far been unable to reach any survivors or find any bodies, despite the frantic clearing effort and two tunnels being dug under the wreckage of the building.

Iranians were in shock over the apparent loss of so many firefighters, with state television placing a black banner across the corner of the screen as a sign of mourning.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said late Thursday that the incident had “caused deep sorrow, regret and concern for me” and he praised the “bravery and sacrifice of the firefighters.”

IRNA said 84 people were injured in the fire, of whom five were still in hospital.

“The relief work is very hard. Removal of debris is going on in all parts of the building but the thick smoke rising from the building is creating serious problems,” said Tehran emergency services director Pir Hossein Koolivand.

“It is still not clear how many people are trapped under the rubble and not even one person has been pulled out.”

President Hassan Rouhani has called for an immediate investigation, with city officials saying the building’s managers ignored repeated warnings about fire hazards.

The Plasco building was Tehran’s first shopping centre and Iran’s tallest building when it was finished in 1962, before being dwarfed by the construction boom of later years.

It was built by Habibollah Elghanian, a prominent Iranian-Jewish businessman who was arrested for ties to Israel and sentenced to death and executed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.


Rescue worker helps an injured man after building collapse in Tehran, Iran (19 January 2017)

President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the interior minister to investigate the incident. EPA photo


 (Photos before the collapse)

Sanctions renewal shows US still ‘enemy’– Iran’s Rouhani says

December 6, 2016


© Iranian Presidency/AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has faced a barrage of criticism from conservatives who say his team made too many concessions in the nuclear deal for minimal economic gain

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Congress’s decision to renew US sanctions for 10 years would elicit a “harsh reaction” and proved the United States was still an enemy.

“America… is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can,” Rouhani said in a speech to students at Tehran University.

The Iran Sanctions Act passed the US Senate 99-0 last week, after easily clearing the House of Representatives in November.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure into a law, a White House official said, adding that the administration does not believe the extension violates last year’s nuclear deal between major powers and Iran.

Obama has suspended sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme since the agreement went into effect at the start of the year.

But Iran says that even if the nuclear sanctions remain suspended, just keeping them on the books amounts to a breach of the agreement.

“If this is implemented… it would be a blatant and clear breach of the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) and would face a very harsh reaction from us,” Rouhani said.

The actual language in the agreement could be interpreted in different ways.

It calls on the US to “cease the application of… all nuclear-related sanctions”. It does not specify whether Washington can keep them in reserve for possible use in the future.

At a press conference on Tuesday, conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani said parts of the deal were “rushed”.

“Some of the sections of the JCPOA should have been written with more precision to stop differing interpretations,” Larijani said.

“I believe Iran should file a complaint in regard of the Americans’ breach of the JCPOA,” he added.

Rouhani and other top officials are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Rouhani, who is expected to run for a second term in May, has faced a barrage of criticism from conservatives who say his team made too many concessions in the nuclear deal for minimal economic gain.

In Tuesday’s speech, he emphasised that his team had not acted alone and that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was closely involved at every stage of the negotiations.

“We took no step on the JCPOA issue without consulting the honourable leader,” Rouhani said.

Although Iran has managed to significantly ramp up its oil exports since the deal, it has struggled to rejoin the international financial system because major Western banks remain reluctant to do business for fear of remaining non-nuclear US sanctions.

The result has been that Iran has been unable to attract the huge foreign investment which Rouhani has said is necessary to rekindle the country’s battered economy.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after a joint press conference in Beijing, on December 5, 2016. AFP photo