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The Iran Primer

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Report: Iran’s Practical Nuclear Needs

            On July 14, quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir published the most detailed report to date on Iran’s “practical needs” for nuclear energy and an explanation for why it wants its own fuel reactors. It explains the logic behind Tehran’s stated need of a industrial scale uranium enrichment capacity of 190,000 separative work units, announced by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei earlier in July. But the authors emphasize that industrial-scale enrichment will not be necessary until after 2021, when Iran's fuel supply agreement with Russia expires. The report comes less than week before the July 20 deadline for the world’s six major powers and Iran to negotiate a comprehensive agreement. The following is NuclearEnergy.ir’s infographic followed by a summary of the report.

 
What Are Iran’s ‘Practical Needs’ and Why Does Iran Want to Fuel Reactors on Its Own?
 
            A new report prepared by the Iranian outlet NuclearEnergy.ir offers fresh insight into Iran’s practical enrichment needs and explains why Iran wants to fuel reactors on its own. The report comes amid intense talks between Iran and the P5+1 to reach an agreement by the July 20th deadline of the Joint Plan of Action. It features detailed step-by-step calculations of Iranian nuclear fuel requirements in terms of Separative Work Units (SWU). The report also details the motivations for Iran’s drive to domestically produce fuel, based on an empirical approach that provides an overview of past experiences.
 
            In the report, the authors substantiate the fuel requirements of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), Iran’s sole light water power reactor, providing an estimate of 190,738 SWU. This figure does not account for minimal waste of 10%, thus emphasizing the conservative nature of the 190,000 SWU raised as Iran’s fuel requirement. However, the authors underscore that this capacity will not be needed until the expiry of Iran’s fuel supply agreement with Russia, which expires in 2021. At present, Iran’s current total capacity, including installed but not operating centrifuges, is over 22,000 SWU. The report also reveals that the fuel requirements of the nascent Arak reactor have not yet been determined as the plant’s configuration is still subject to discussion. However, the authors posit that the Arak reactor’s SWU needs are negligible in comparison to the BNPP. Lastly, the authors estimate the annual fuel needs of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) at 830 SWU.
 
           The authors underscore that Iran will not need the capacity to fuel the BNPP until 2021, when the contract with Russia for fuel supplies expires. The report brings up four main motivations for Iran’s determination to end its reliance on a single source for fuel:
 
           Supply concerns; beginning with Iran’s experience of being denied a share of the output of European nuclear fuel consortium Eurodif, despite 10% ownership, the report proceeds with outlining a history of repeated disruptions in the supply of nuclear fuel to Iran. As the most recent example, the case of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), for which Iran was denied fuel in 2009 – thus compelling it to produce its own fuel – is highlighted as a key event underpinning Iranian supply concerns.
 
           Cost of idle reactors; the report also discusses the cost of idle reactors. Citing an estimate by prominent U.S.-based nuclear scientist Frank Von Hippel, the authors argue that if Iran realizes its plan to build 20 reactors, the cost of a future fuel supply cut could cost Iran $4 billion per year.
 
           Meeting the need for industrial-scale enrichment; the report outlines industrial-scale enrichment as a technological objective, even if Iran decides to import fuel for additional reactors. Founded on Iranian supply concerns, the authors posit that developing industrial-scale enrichment capacity and know-how will allow Iran to power its own reactors while thwarting the effects of potential supply cuts in the future, if it decides to import fuel for additional reactors.
 
           Enhancing its fuel fabrication capability; the authors posit that producing fuel rods for nuclear power plants, which Iran is not currently engaged in, will equip Iranian scientists with the know-how to not only fuel all reactors on Iranian soil, but more importantly, step in should Iran decide to import fuel for additional reactors and one day be faced with supply cuts. The report also clarifies that Iran is engaged in long-term negotiations with Russia on cooperative arrangements for domestic production of fuel for the BNNP after the expiry of the current supply contract.
 
           The report also addresses the legal and safety aspects of Iran producing fuel for the BNPP on its own.
 
           In relation to safety matters, the report emphasizes that Iran now has experience of nuclear fuel production and related safety aspects. Pointing out that Iran has conducted safety tests on finalized fuel assemblies for the Arak reactor, the authors posit that fuel for the BNPP could also be irradiated at the TRR.
 
           In relation to legal matters, the authors underscore that Iran is already in long-term negotiations with Russia over domestic production of fuel for the BNPP. Bringing up the example of the cutoff in fuel for TRR and subsequent unilateral production of fuel for that reactor, the authors argue that Iran could legally manufacture fuel for the BNPP through minute alterations to existing fuel designs.
 
           Lastly, the authors argue that “with the contract to supply fuel for the BNPP set to expire in 2021, the need to have a meaningful enrichment program that is capable of providing for the country’s fuel needs is ever more pressing.” The report further warns against efforts to reduce “the Iranian enrichment program to a symbolic and meaningless program”, arguing that it would “mean the effective scrapping of the entire fuel cycle, which employs thousands of Iranian scientists”, while pointing to that the latter has provided Iran with “an opportunity to develop advanced technology with a multitude of peaceful applications.”
 
Click here for the full report.
 

Report: UK Policy on Iran

            On July 14, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released a comprehensive report supporting the building of political, strategic, commercial and cultural ties with Iran. The report noted the reasons why relations between London and Tehran have been strained, including Iran’s human right violations and the nuclear issue.
           
The committee argued that the current nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers “are the most promising forum for reaching a settlement which assuages fears” of the international community. Most importantly, the report seemed to endorse a potential deal that would allow Iran a limited uranium enrichment capability. “We acknowledge that there is probably no prospect of a lasting deal which does not allow Iran to enrich uranium,” wrote the committee members.
           
The committee also acknowledged that the closing of its embassy after it was stormed by protestors in 2011 and that the subsequent prolonged silence resulted in other countries being seen as “better choice partners in international relations.” The following is the executive summary of the report.

             It would be in the UK’s interest to have a mature and constructive relationship with Iran on many levels: political, strategic, commercial and cultural. Yet this remains an ideal which is far from being achieved. Relations between the UK and Iran have been strained for years and suffer from lack of trust on both sides, born of a fear that one side is seeking to destabilise or thwart the other, and a perception on both sides that their interests rarely coincide. This perception has been reinforced by missed opportunities at various times by both countries.
 
             The challenges to the UK’s relationship with Iran are multiple and profound. Progress in pursuing the UK’s interests in Iran seems a remote prospect until a more trusting bilateral relationship has been established, and that will require at least partial resolution of concerns held by the UK about Iran’s role in regional security and stability.
 
Human rights standards
            We encourage the FCO to continue to take any opportunities that arise, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, to reiterate the UK’s objection to unacceptable practices, including executions, persecution of people on the grounds of their faith, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression. No concessions should be made on human rights in the interests of making progress in negotiations in other fields.
 
The Tehran Embassy
            We welcome the recent decision to re-open the Tehran Embassy. We understand why the Foreign Secretary adopted a cautious approach towards the revival of diplomatic relations; but we question whether the UK waited too long for assurances on security which were never going to be forthcoming from all quarters of the Iranian hierarchy.
 
             The lack of full diplomatic representation in Iran hinders the UK’s ability to shape events, gather information, build the personal contacts which are essential to constructive diplomatic relations, and reassure its regional allies that it could make fully informed assessments of Iranian opinion and intentions. We heard that the prolonged period of silence between the UK and Iran had resulted in the UK being less visible in the country, and that other countries are now looked at as better choice partners in international relations.
 
The purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme
            There is no convincing explanation for why Iran might need for civil purposes the stocks of enriched uranium which it held in January 2014. We believe that the primary reason for Iran's decision to build such a capacity to enrich uranium and to amass stocks to current levels was to give itself the option to develop a nuclear military capability. That has almost been achieved. While the Foreign and Commonwealth Office refers to the body of evidence pointing towards possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, we are not aware of any unequivocal evidence that Iran has taken a decision to push ahead and develop a nuclear weapon.
 
Alternatives to negotiation and the Joint Plan of Action
             We do not believe that alternatives to negotiation offer a realistic prospect of a long-term, sustainable solution to current concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme. The negotiations on the Joint Plan of Action are the most promising forum for reaching a settlement which assuages fears about the scope and intention of the Iranian nuclear programme. We endorse the UK’s decision to take part in negotiations with Iran on its
nuclear programme through the framework of the Joint Plan of Action.
 
Should we trust President Rouhani?
             We believe that President Rouhani is not necessarily a reformist at heart: he is a pragmatist who hopes to improve standards of living in Iran by persuading the West to lift sanctions, while retaining in place as much of the country’s nuclear programme as possible. However, while Mr Rouhani has the impetus of his election victory and demonstrably high levels of public support, we believe that the P5+1 can have confidence that he is an authoritative representative of Iran, and we believe that he is genuinely committed to a sustainable deal. For now at least, he should be trusted, but he should be judged by his actions, not by his words.
 
The comprehensive agreement under the Joint Plan of Action
             We acknowledge that there is probably no prospect of a lasting deal which does not allow Iran to enrich uranium.
 
             Enrichment capacity should be limited to a level which Iran would not reject outright but which would still allow enough time for any attempt at breakout to be detected and referred to the UN Security Council—we suggest six months as an absolute minimum.
 
             Trust, which is essential if the plan is to succeed, may crumble unless the comprehensive agreement enshrines a right for the IAEA to make unannounced and intrusive inspections of all nuclear facilities, products, designs and records.
 
             International sanctions undoubtedly played a major part in preparing the ground for a
more amenable Iranian negotiating position. They may not have directly forced Iran to
make concessions; but the fatigue amongst large sections of the Iranian public with the
international isolation and disadvantage which flowed from sanctions was a factor in the election of President Rouhani, which paved the way for more fruitful negotiations.
 
             We doubt that any deal would have been achieved in Geneva in November 2013 had
limited sanctions relief not been offered.
 
             Modifying the design of the Arak reactor so that it produces less plutonium has value, but third-party monitoring of storage of the spent fuel—or preferably removal and third-party custody of it—would be instrumental in helping to allay concerns.
 
Facilitating humanitarian trade with Iran
             The UK should not assume that letters of comfort from the US Treasury to banks will be enough to reassure them that they will not be penalised commercially for facilitating
humanitarian trade under the Joint Plan of Action. Ministers should state publicly that
they encourage UK banks to provide the necessary facilities for trade in humanitarian
goods and will if required defend to the US Treasury their right to do so. If trade with Iran in humanitarian goods is facilitated under the Joint Plan of Action, even if only on a limited scale, vigilance will be needed if the diversion of funds and illicit trade which
occurred under the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq is not to be repeated in Iran.
 
Click here for the full report.
 

Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Diplomacy

           Nearly two-thirds of the American public favors making a deal with Iran that would limit its uranium enrichment capacity and impose additional intrusive inspections in exchange for some sanctions relief, according to a new study by the Program for Public Consultation. Only 35 percent of the public calls for stopping the current negotiations and increasing sanctions to halt Iran’s enrichment program. The study was fielded from June 28 to July 7, with a sample of 748 American adults who were briefed about the current negotiations. The following are excerpts from the report.

 
Presentation of Options and Evaluation of Arguments for Each
           Respondents were presented the two major options for dealing with Iran that are being promoted in the current discourse:
 
a) making a deal that allows Iran to enrich but only to a low level, provides more intrusive inspections and gradually lifts some sanctions;
 
b) not continuing the current negotiations, imposing more sanctions, and pressing Iran to agree to end all uranium enrichment.
 
          They then evaluated a series of arguments for and against each option. All arguments were found convincing by substantial majorities, with neither option having a clear advantage at this stage. Some arguments for each option were more persuasive than others.
 
Evaluation of Options Separately
           Both before and after hearing the pro and con arguments, respondents were asked to evaluate each policy option separately in terms of how acceptable or tolerable they would find it if the US pursued that approach. Before hearing pro and con arguments, negotiating limited enrichment was found acceptable by just under half and ‘just tolerable’ by a third, with those finding it acceptable rising several points after hearing the arguments. The option of increasing sanctions in hopes of stopping enrichment did not do as well: it was initially found acceptable by a third and ‘just tolerable’ by three in ten, with the number finding it acceptable dropping several points after the pro and con arguments.
 
Final Recommendation
http://iranprimer.usip.org/files/u/pciranjuly2014.jpg
 
         Asked for their final recommendation between the options, a six in ten majority recommended making a deal that allows limited uranium enrichment rather than ramping up sanctions in an effort to get Iran to terminate all enrichment. More than six in ten Republicans and Democrats took this position, as well just over half of independents. Those with higher levels of education were substantially more supportive.
 
US-Iran Cooperation on Iraq
           Six in ten favor the US and Iran working together to address the current crisis in Iraq.
 
Confidence-Building Measures
           Very large majorities favor a variety of confidence-building measures: direct talks between the US and Iran on issues of mutual concern; greater cultural, educational, and sporting exchanges; and providing more access to each other’s journalists. A more modest majority also favors greater trade, but views are divided on having more Americans and Iranians visiting each other’s countries as tourists.
 
Views of Iranian Government and Relations Between Islam and the West
           Interestingly, support for cooperative measures between the US and Iran is high, though a large majority has a negative view of the Iranian government and nearly half say that the Islamic and Western traditions are not compatible and reject the view that it is possible to find common ground.
 
Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
            Seven in ten favor a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone that would include Israel as well as Islamic countries, and three in four favor the general goal of eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons.
 
 
Click here for the full report.

Report: US Concerns and Responses to Iran

            Hassan Rouhani’s election to the presidency has improved prospects for ending 34 years of U.S.-Iran estrangement, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service’s Kenneth Katzman. But the United States will still have serious concerns about the Islamic Republic even if the world’s six major powers and Iran reach a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue. Support for extremist groups, human rights abuses, weapons programs and efforts to destabilize the region are key U.S. concerns that predate the nuclear issue. The following are excerpts from the report.

 
Human Rights Practices
 
Iran’s human rights record is scrutinized by the United Nations and multilateral groupings.
Media Freedoms

Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has been active in blocking pro-reform websites and blogs and closing newspapers critical of the government, as well as arresting journalists and bloggers. However, some editors say that the government has become more tolerant of critical media since Rouhani took office. The Majles investigated the November 2012 death in custody of blogger, Sattar Beheshti; seven security officers were arrested and the Tehran “Cyber Police” commander was removed for the incident. Iran is setting up a national network that would have a virtual monopoly on Internet service for Iranians.

Labor Restrictions

Independent unions are legal but not allowed in practice. The sole authorized national labor organization is a state-controlled “Workers’ House” umbrella.

Women

Women can vote in all elections and run in parliamentary and municipal elections. They are permitted to drive, and work outside the home, including owning their own businesses, although less than 20% of the workforce is female and women earn nearly 5 times less than men. Nine women are in the Majles, but women cannot serve as judges. There was one woman in the previous cabinet (Minister of Health) but she was fired in December 2012 for criticizing lack of funding for medicines. Masoumah Ebtekar, a prominent woman who has held the position of a vice president in previous governments, was scheduled to be the first woman to deliver the Friday Prayer at Tehran University in January 2014, but her appearance was cancelled. Women are required to be covered in public, generally with a garment called a chador, but enforcement has relaxed since Rouhani took office. Women do not have inheritance or divorce rights equal to that of men, and their court testimony carries half the weight of a male’s. Laws against rape are not enforced effectively.

Religious Freedom Overview

Each year since 1999, the State Department religious freedom report has named Iran as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). No sanctions have been added under IRFA, on the grounds that Iran is already subject to extensive U.S. sanctions. Continued deterioration in religious freedom have been noted in the past few International Religious Freedom reports, stating that government rhetoric and actions creates a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shia religious groups.

Arrests of Dual

Nationals and
Foreign
Nationals/Robert
Levinson/ the
American Hikers

Iran does not recognize dual nationality. An Iranian American journalist, Roxanna Saberi, was arrested in January 2009 allegedly because her press credentials had expired, and was released in May 12, 2009. Three American hikers (Sara Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal) were arrested in August 2009 after crossing into Iran from a hike in northern Iraq. They were released in 2010 and 2011 on $500,000 bail each—brokered by Oman. Several cases remain pending, which U.S. officials say the raise during at the margins of the nuclear negotiations.

 
Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, remains missing after a visit in 2005 to Kish Island to meet an Iranian source (Dawud Salahuddin, allegedly responsible for the 1980 killing in the United
States of an Iranian diplomat who had served the Shah’s government). Iran denies knowing his status or location. In December 2011, Levinson’s family released a one-year old taped statement by him. In January 2013, his family released recent photos of him, and they acknowledged in late 2013 that his visit to Kish Island was partly related to his contract work
for the CIA.
 
A former U.S. Marine, Amir Hekmati, was arrested in 2011 and remains in jail in Iran allegedly for spying for the United States. His family has been permitted to visit him there. On December 20, 2012, a U.S. Christian convert of Iranian origin, Rev. Saeed Abedini, was imprisoned for “undermining national security” for setting up orphanages in Iran in partnership with Iranian Christians. His closed trial was held January 22, 2013, and he was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison.
 
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Qods Force
 
            Through its Qods (Jerusalem) Force (QF), the IRGC has a foreign policy role in exerting influence throughout the region by supporting pro-Iranian movements and leaders. The QF numbers approximately 10,000-15,000 personnel who provide advice, support, and arrange weapons deliveries to pro-Iranian factions or leaders in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Persian Gulf states, Gaza/West Bank, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. IRGC leaders have confirmed the QF is in Syria to assist the regime of Bashar al-Assad against an armed uprising, and it reportedly provided advisers to help the Iraqi government counter an offensive by Sunni Islamist extremists in June 2014. The QF commander, Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani reportedly has a direct and independent channel to Khamene’i. The QF commander during 1988-1995 was Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, who served as Defense minister during 2009-2013. He led the QF when it allegedly assisted two bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires and is wanted by Interpol for a role in the 1994 bombing there. He allegedly recruited Saudi Hezbollah activists later accused of the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing; and assassinated Iranian dissident leaders in Europe in the early 1990s.
 
International Atomic Energy Agency Investigations into Past Nuclear Weapons Research
 
           Allegations that Iran might have researched a nuclear explosive device have caused experts and governments to question Iran’s assertions that it does not intend to construct a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been attempting to investigate information laid out in detail in an IAEA report of November 8, 2011, on Iran’s alleged research efforts on designs for a nuclear explosive device (“possible military dimensions,” PMD). Even though many questions about PMD persist, no IAEA report—or U.S. intelligence testimony or comments—has asserted that Iran has diverted any nuclear material for a nuclear weapons program.
 
           Iran’s cooperation in addressing these issues appears to be improving as an interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community—the “Joint Plan of Action.” (JPA)—is implemented and a comprehensive nuclear agreement is negotiated. And the JPA stipulates that clearing up such questions must be part of a comprehensive nuclear settlement.
 
Chemical and Biological Weapons
 
            Official U.S. reports and testimony state that Iran maintains the capability to produce chemical warfare (CW) agents and “probably” has the capability to produce some biological warfare agents for offensive purposes, if it made the decision to do so. This raises questions about Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which Iran signed on January 13, 1993, and ratified on June 8, 1997.
 
Ballistic and Cruise Missiles and Warheads
 
            The Administration’s insistence that missile limitations be part of a comprehensive nuclear settlement is based, at least in part, on the apparent view that Iran’s ballistic missiles and its acquisition of indigenous production of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) provide capabilities for Iran to project power. DNI Clapper testified on March 12, 2013, that the intelligence community assesses that “Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of delivering WMD.” There has been a long-standing U.S. estimate that Iran would likely not be able to fully develop a missile of intercontinental range until 2015, although that time frame is not far away and there have not been any recent reports that Iran is approaching that capability.
 
Support for International Terrorism
 
            Iran’s foreign policy has made use of groups that are named as terrorist organizations by the United States. Iran was placed on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism (“terrorism list”) in January 1984. The State Department report on international terrorism for 2013,36 released April 30, 2014, stated that Iran “continued its terrorist-related activity” in 2013 and that Iran “also increased its presence in Africa and attempted to smuggle arms” to oppositionists in Yemen and Bahrain. In 2012, Iran allegedly backed terrorist plots against Israeli diplomats and officials in such countries as India (in which the wife of an Israeli diplomat was wounded in an attack in Delhi in on February 13, 2012), Bulgaria (where a July 19, 2012, bombing killed five Israeli tourists), Thailand, Georgia, and Kenya. Other alleged plots took place in Azerbaijan and Cyprus.
 
            In 2011 and 2012, U.S. officials asserted that Iran might be planning acts of terrorism in the United States itself. The assessment was based largely on an alleged Iranian plot, revealed on October 11, 2011, by the Department of Justice, to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
 
            Some assert that Rouhani seeks to curb Iran’s support for militant movements in the region because their activities could injure his goals of broader international engagement. However, many doubt that Rouhani is able to curb Iranian support for terrorism. Rouhani is perceived as having no ability to remove the head of the Qods Force, Qasem Soleimani, who runs Iran’s external operations and reports directly to Khamene’i.
 
Supporting Militant Anti-Israel Groups
 
            Iran has long opposed Israel as a creation of the West and an oppressor of the Palestinian people and other Arabs. Former president Ahmadinejad went well beyond that to statements that Israel should be destroyed. The Supreme Leader has repeatedly called Israel a “cancerous tumor.” Iran has hosted numerous conferences to which anti-peace process terrorist organizations were invited (for example: April 24, 2001, and June 2-3, 2002).
President Rouhani has sought to soften Iran’s image on this issue, in part by publicly issuing greetings to the Jewish community on the occasion of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) in September 2013. Despite that outreach, in March 2014, Khamene’i questioned the Holocaust—an issue that Ahmadinejad had raised during his presidency and for which he had incurred major international criticism.
 
Iran’s support for Palestinian militant groups has long concerned U.S. administrations. The State Department report on terrorism for 2012 repeated previous year’s reports assertions that Iran provides funding, weapons, and training to Hamas, a faction of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). All are named as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) by the State Department for their use of violence against Israel. During the second Palestinian intifada (“uprising”) in January 2002, Israel intercepted a ship (the Karine A) carrying about 50 tons of Iranian-supplied arms bound for the Gaza Strip. The formal position of the Iranian Foreign Ministry is that Iran would not seek to block an Israeli-Palestinian settlement but that the process is too weighted toward Israel to yield a fair result.
 
Syria
 
           Syria’s Bashar Al Assad has been Iran’s closest Arab ally, and Iran would suffer a considerable strategic setback if the Sunni-led rebellion in Syria succeeds in toppling his regime. Syria is the main transit point for Iranian weapons shipments to Hezbollah, and both Iran and Syria have used Hezbollah as leverage against Israel to try to achieve regional and territorial aims. Rouhani has not sought to slow Iranian support to Assad and it is not clear he would be able to change Iran’s overall policy were he to try to do so. However, Iran’s support for the beleaguered Iraqi government as of June 2014 could be draining off Iranian resources that might otherwise go to Assad.
 
            U.S. officials and reports assert that, to try to prevent Assad’s downfall, Iran is providing substantial amounts of material support to the Syrian regime, including funds, weapons, and fighters. The State Department has said repeatedly that Iran has sent Qods Forces (QF) to Syria to advise the regime and fight alongside the Syrian military. Some experts say the Iranian direct intervention goes beyond QF personnel to include an unknown number of IRGC ground forces as well. The Iranian advisers also have helped Syria set up militia forces to ease the burden on the Syrian army. In May 2014, there were press reports that Iran was attempting to recruit Afghan refugees in Iran to fight in Syria.
 
Click here for the full report.
 
Tags: Reports

Iran on Gaza Conflict

            Iran’s leaders have unanimously condemned Israeli air strikes and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip, which began on July 7 and have claimed more than 1,800 Palestinian lives, according to the Gaza health ministry. “Hundreds of innocent men and women and children have been slaughtered… and the United States is not taking action,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told NBC News. He also noted that Israel receives much of its weapons from the United States. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also condemned the West, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for supporting Israel’s policies. He has called for arming Palestinians in the West Bank just as Hamas has been armed.

          Top military leaders and officials have praised the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, that have fired rockets into Israel. “The rockets fired by the Palestinians have created such a strange fear among the Zionists, and they are now after a truce,” said Commander of the Army Ground Forces Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan. Six members of Iran's parliament plan to visit Gaza to show their support at the earliest opportunity. On July 25, thousands of Iranians participated in nation-wide rallies on Qods Day (Jerusalem Day) to show solidarity with Palestinians. Qods Day is held every year on the last Friday of Ramadan.


           Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli officials criticized Iran for its military and financial support to Hamas. “Iran has a responsibility to cease and desist from continuing to supply weapons of war that are fueling this conflict,” a senior U.S. official told the press in a briefing on the Vienna nuclear talks.  
 
           Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis were ignited in June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel claimed that two Hamas militants were responsible for the abduction. Rockets were launched from Gaza the night of June 30, when the three bodies were found, and Israel began carrying out air strikes.
 
             The situation escalated after July 2, when a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and burned to death in an apparent revenge attack. Hamas, which has reportedly received military and financial support from Tehran, and other extremist groups in Gaza have since fired more than 2,430 rockets at Israel. Israel’s advanced Iron Dome defense system has intercepted rockets and mortars headed toward population centers. So far, one Israeli civilian has been killed by mortar fire. Meanwhile, Israel has fired on more than 1,500 “terror targets” in Gaza, including 735 concealed rocket launchers. Two Israeli civilians, one foreign worker and 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Operation Protective Edge began.
 
           The following are remarks by Iranian officials and comments by U.S. and Israeli officials on Iranian involvement in Gaza.   
 
Iran
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
           “Since its illegitimate birth since 66 years ago, the Zionist regime has done whatever crime one can imagine against Palestine.
          “There is no way to stop the infanticidal Zionist regime but the elimination of this regime; not via war but via referendum.
          “Iran suggested a referendum among Christian, Muslim and Jewish Palestinians including the refugees and the ensuing government will replace the Zionist regime.
           “In the absence of a referendum, fighting Zionists is realized through resolute and armed resistance of Palestinians which is recognized by international laws.
           “Don’t think if it wasn't about Hamas rockets, the Zionists would have relented. There are no weapons in the West Bank, but Israel commits many crimes against its citizens. Israel demolishes houses and farms, cuts people's water and electricity and humiliates the residents in the West Bank.
           “The fact that they poisoned and killed people like [Yasser] Arafat who had the utmost cooperation with them shows that ‘peace’ is Israel's trick for more bullying.
           “If Palestinian resistance forces stand against Israel, it’s likely that Israel retreats; as they're now doing anything to achieve a truce.
           “I believe West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Those who love Palestine should arm the people of Palestine in the West Bank.
           “Of course, it’s a duty for people of the world to have political activity against Zionists. As you see Muslims and non-Muslims stage big protests against Israel.”
          July 23, 2014 in a meeting with university students
 
          “The Gaza incidents are utterly disastrous, and the Zionist regime is carrying out the current atrocities by taking advantage of the negligence of the Islamic world.
          “The killing of the people of Gaza by the usurping Zionists should spur Islamic governments and nations to resolve their differences and become united.
          “We will always stand side by side with the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon. Even in Syria, if there’s any group whose objective is liberating the occupied land, we will back them and support them.
          “We know how much our brothers need support. Israel always claims Iran is sending arms to them. What I can say is that Iran wants to see a strong and self-sufficient resistance. Yes, we are sending rockets and military aid, but not the traditional way.”
           July 17, 2014 according to the press
 
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
 
            “The continuation of the cruel siege of Gaza and the dire lack of medical supplies [in the area] are worrying and could lead to a major humanitarian catastrophe.
            “Helping the oppressed Palestinian people and preventing the aggressive acts of the Zionist regime are the shared responsibility of all international institutions and the world’s freedom-seeking countries.”
            July 10, 2014 in a message to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
 
           “If today we remain indifferent to the sadness of others, we will face the same situation in the future and we should not expect others to share our grief then.”
           July 22, 2014 according to the press
 
            “Our administration is prepared to provide medical assistance to Gaza, but they [Israelis] do not permit us to dispatch even pharmaceutical facilities and medical teams to there. We are ready to bring all injured Gazans in Iran and cure them.”
            July 23, 2014 according to press
 
           “The Islamic world must in unison declare this day one of anger, hatred, unity and resistance against Israel.
           I condemn “those who stay silent in the face of the Zionist regime's crimes. The world demands an end to the Gaza blockade, opening the Rafah crossing and halting attacks on Gaza so its people can live normally.”
           July 25, 2014 at a demonstration for Qods Day
 
            “Unfortunately, we face two festering tumors in this region and across the Muslim world. One tumor has always caused distress to the Palestinians and Muslims and these days it is secreting and wreaking havoc on the land of olive [trees]. The other festering tumor which is agonizing the Muslims these days is a campaign launched under the name of Islam, religion, caliphate and caliphacy and has undertaken the murder and killing of Muslims in the region. All studies indicate that both tumors have roots at the same point.
           “These incidents [in Gaza] are crimes against humanity and all the international bodies and organizations boasting of [defending] humanity and human rights should provide the grounds for putting the criminals on trial.”
            July 28, 2014 in a meeting with Iranian officials and foreign diplomats
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
           “Unfortunately, over the past week, we have witnessed the irresponsible inaction of the UN Security Council with the silent consent of the self-proclaimed advocates of human rights or even their support for the massacre of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, in the Gaza strip.”
           “I hope the meeting, which has been held to reach a solution to confront the Zionist regime’s aggression against Gaza, will lead us to find practical solutions to end the human tragedy in the Gaza Strip and assist the oppressed people in the region.”
           July 23, 2014 according to press
 
            “Such crimes show that the Palestinian people are resistant, and that the Zionist regime is not committed to the international rules and regulations and the Security Council is ignoring the rights of the Palestinian people.”
           July 23, 2014 in the interview with the state television
 
           “It is extremely regrettable that people are being killed, hundreds of innocent men and women and children have been slaughtered, almost 100 people being killed, over 500 have been wounded in Gaza, and the United States is not taking any action. We know that all the weapons that are used by Israel in order to attack civilians in Gaza have been provided by the United States. And we don't see any move by the United States to condemn that.
           “We do not condemn people who are defending themselves. We believe that actions that are putting civilians in jeopardy in Gaza that have placed restrictions on civilians to get access to medicine. To food. Have tried to starve the civilians in Gaza. They need to be vehemently condemned by the national community. The United States and the rest of the members of the Security Council have a moral and legal responsibility to put an end to this. And address the fact that they haven't taken any action in order to address this.”
           July 13, 2014 in an interview with NBC News
 
Revolutionary Guards Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani
            “Martyrdom for Palestine is the wish of any honorable Muslim.
            “Unity with Palestine will terrorize the enemy—while fighting each other will bring the enemy joy.
            “We will persist with victory until the land, the sky and the sea turn into hell for Zionists. The murderers and the mercenaries must know that we will not stop defending the resistance, not even for a moment.
            “It [the conflict in Gaza] wounds our hearts and fills us with grief, a grief which holds a deep rage. When the time comes, this rage will be poured on the heads of the criminal Zionists.
            “Damn those who have done you injustice and continue to do so. Damn any oppressor who has supported and continues to support this criminal regime, especially America, which leads this tyranny.”
            July 30 in a letter published by Arabic TV station Al Mayadeen and Iranian news outlets
 
Foreign Ministry
             “The savage attacks and aggressions of the Palestine occupying regime on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank continues, while the international bodies in charge and the main players of the international system have so far refrained from any deterrent attempt and this behavior has resulted in further spread of the tragedy of the Zionist regime`s new crimes on the eve of the International Quds Day, and martyrdom of over 170 Palestinians and injury of more than 1,200 others as well as destruction of infrastructures, mosques and homes of the Palestinians in Gaza.”
            July 14, 2014 in a statement
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
           “We insistently call on the Egyptian government to reopen the Rafah border crossing to facilitate the supply of medicines and food aid to meet the immediate needs of the Gazans.            “The massacre of women and children and people in Gaza and the new Gaza siege are nothing but war crimes and a violation of human rights... genocide, massacre, infringement of international rules and principles, and warmongering in the region.
           “The Zionist regime [of Israel] has embarked on this [offensive] in the holy [fasting] month of Ramadan and has been reducing defenseless people of Palestine to dust and blood with unconventional weapons, which indicates the occupying nature and the savage spirit of this blood-sucking regime.”
          July 22, 2014 at a meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Member States in Tehran
 
            “Today, it is the power of the resistance which is creating a new Middle-East and the US and its affiliates don’t want to recognize this power and they attempt to hit a blow at this stream by accusing them of terrorism. This resistance is like a medal on the chest of the Muslims; reconciliation plans will not produce any result.”
           July 23, 2014 according to press
 
            “The clear need of Palestine is its need for weapons and basic necessities, and Iran plays an important role in meeting the clear needs of the Palestinian people.”
          July 23, 2014 according to press
 
          “Today, the fighters in Gaza have good capabilities and can meet their own needs for weapons.
          “But once upon a time, they needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them.”
          July 24, 2014 to the Arab language service of state television
 
           “We take it upon ourselves to stand by and help the oppressed Palestinian people wholeheartedly one way or another.”
           July 15, 2014 in a meeting with ambassadors from Muslim countries

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
          “International and regional efforts are needed to bring to a halt the Zionist regime's crimes against the innocent Palestinian nation.
          “The criminal Zionist regime will be the definite loser in the recent developments.”
          July 22, 2014 in a meeting with his Qatari counterpart Mohammad bin Abdullah al Ramihi
 
Deputy Chief of Staff of Armed Forces, Gen. Massoud Jazayeri
           “The type of struggle in the West Bank should change so that the world will see serious withdrawal of the occupiers.
           “This capability accompanied by other power elements available to the main owners of the Palestinian territories can return the violated rights of the Palestinians to them.
           “The region would not have definitely been facing so much turmoil and chaos if the treacherous and dependent leaders of the region had not existed.”
            Aug. 5, 2014 according to the press
 
Revolutionary Guards public relations chief Gen. Ramezan Sharif,
           “The defense capacity and capabilities of the Islamic resistance and Hamas forces has left no safe place for the Zionists in the occupied territories.”
           “The quality and trend of action of the Palestinian resistance movement in recent days indicates that the defensive and offensive power of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al Qassam Brigades, and Quds brigades forces have increased so much that one can dare say that all Zionists are within the range of the resistance’s missiles”.
           July 14, 2014 according to press
 
Chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
           “Given the extensive dimensions of the Zionist regime's inhumane crimes against the Gaza people, it is expected from you and other honorable members of your foreign policy commission to adopt proper positions in support of the helpless Palestinians and condemn the Zionist aggressors.”
           July 14, 2014 in letters to his counterparts in 46 countries according to press
 
           “We announce officially to Egypt our readiness for sending humanitarian and medical supplies to Gaza through Iran Red Crescent Society (IRCS).”
            July 23, 2014 according to the press
 
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
           “The viewpoints of the Palestinian groups and people are important to us and the Islamic Republic supports every plan that is accepted by the Palestinian people and provides for their interests. Our stance is whatever position and viewpoint that Palestinian leaders and resistance have.”
           July 23, 2014 according to the press
 
Commander of the Army Ground Force Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan
           “The Zionist regime will not sit at the negotiating table unless the language of force is exercised on them, and we have witnessed that the rockets fired by the Palestinians have created such a strange fear among the Zionists and they are now after a truce.”
           Aug. 1, 2014 at a Quds Day rally
 
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami
           “We will chase you house by house and will avenge every drop of blood [shed from] our martyrs in Palestine, and this is the starting point of the awakening of Muslim nations for defeating you.
           “Today, the [power of] the Palestinian resistance’s missiles are far beyond the Zionists’ estimate.
           “The Muslim world will finally become a grave for the policies of the United States, the Zionist regime and their regional reactionary allies.
           “The power balance will change in favor of the Muslim world and we warn the Zionists that you are a rootless community having no territory, no race, no history and no composing element of a nation.”
           July 25, 2014, according to the press

Commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
            “We are ready to support the Palestinian resistance in different dimensions. When speaking about defending the Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis are of no difference to us, and our devotion and dedication goes to all the Muslim world and the oppressed.
            “The Gaza war displayed that the power of the Resistance [front] has no end and has been institutionalized.
            “This power is growing; massive launch of missiles, defusing and repelling the enemy's ground offensive and upgrading the Palestinians' threshold of tolerance all testify to this increased power [of the Palestinian resistance groups].

            Aug 4, 2014 to the press

Commander of Basij militia Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi
            “The Iranian nation's aids to the Palestinian people recognizes no boundary and whatever they need, it will be included in our aids.
            “As Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] has stressed, we are fully ready to provide any health and hygiene aid as much as the ground is prepared; the Iranian nation is also ready to supply the Palestinians with food stuff and arms aid.”
            Aug. 5, 2014 according to the press
 
United States
 
Senior administration official in Vienna, Austria
           “On Gaza, the one point I’d like to underscore is that Iran has a longstanding record of supplying weapons, rockets to various terrorist groups in Gaza, including Hamas; that those rockets are being used to fire at civilian areas; and that Iran has a responsibility to cease and desist from continuing to supply weapons of war that are fueling this conflict. And any opportunity that we get to communicate that message to them, we will take.”
           July 12, 2014 to the press
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce
           “Who is the enabler for Hamas? Where do they get those rockets? It’s Iran.”
 Use of M-302 rockets “which Iran transferred to Hamas [are] a good reminder in terms of the nature of the regime.”
           July 11, 2014 to the press
 
           “Iran has long provided material support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including assistance that has enabled these terrorist organizations to produce longer-range rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
           July 14, 2014 according to press and H. Res. 657
 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers

            “Iran is publicly, in their own newspapers, touting the fact that they are helping to militarize Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They’re supporting Hezbollah in the fight in Syria and supplying Hamas in the Gaza Strip with weapons.”
            July 28, 2014 according to press
 
            “That's what's so frustrating with the administration. All of this works together. You can't just pick and choose one particular region; it has to work in concert. So when you free up $2.8 billion for Iran, when they're already cash strapped because of sanctions, that means they can continue to do bad activities in the Gaza Strip, including we believe at least missile components.
            “Think about how obscene that is, the hundreds of millions of dollars they've had over a decade. Twenty percent of the people in Gaza Strip aren't connected to a water source. Ninety percent of all the water there doesn't meet international standards. But they've got, I think the Israelis disclosed, 35 tunnels. So they're diverting legitimate money. And you have Iran that is aligned into this particular interest in a way that's very, very dangerous".
            July 27, 2014 according to press
 
Israel
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
           “Today in Vienna, the foreign ministers of the major powers are discussing the question of dealing with Iran's nuclear program. I would like to remind them Hamas and Islamic Jihad are being financed, armed and trained by Iran. Iran is a major power of terrorism that finances, arms and trains the terrorist organizations we are fighting against. This Iran cannot be allowed the ability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. If this happens, the things we are seeing around us and the things that are happening in the Middle East will be far worse.”
           July 14, 2014 according to press
 
Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner
           “We know that Hamas has been training with Iranian help, and its fighters have been attending Iranian schools. They are well trained, well supplied and disciplined.”
           July 21, 2014 according to press
 
Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer
            “Iran continues to do everything it can to push rockets into Gaza”.
           July 11, 2014 according to press
 
           Palestinian Islamic Jihad is “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran.”
           “We need to ensure that the worst actors don’t get the worst weapons.”
           July 22, 2014 according to press
 
Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor
            “Every single time the international community calls for a ceasefire, we cease and Hamas fires. Make no mistake - Hamas is not working alone. It is funded by Qatar and Iran. Every rocket flying out of Gaza could bear the imprint ‘Courtesy of Tehran’.”
           July 28, 2014 according to the press
 
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