MEMRI TV Clip No. 8455 – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani: The End Of The Trump Administration Will Make Conditions More ‘Favorable’ For An Administration That Will Act In Accordance With U.S. Interests
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a November 11, 2020 cabinet meeting that aired on IRINN TV (Iran) that the current Trump administration, which is coming to an end, has interfered in Iran’s relations with other countries and that the end of this administration will make conditions more “favorable.” He said that Trump’s administration was not very familiar with international politics and that it almost carried out the “dictates” of Israel and of extremists.
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LATEST IRAN NUCLEAR INSPECTION REPORT REVEALS MULTIPLE CONCERNS
by Simon Henderson – Policy Alert November 16, 2020 – Headlines about increased stockpiles of enriched uranium are only half the story.
President-elect Joe Biden’s team has indicated that he wants to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its numerous restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities once he takes office, but the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Tehran’s program is moving ahead anyway. Even if the next administration does manage to reinstitute the JCPOA in some form, it will likely be a rather different accord.
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- Nov 2020 – In einem langen Mediengespräch mit den Medien erörterte der Sprecher des iranischen Außenministeriums, Saeed Khatibzadeh, dass der Iran den 2015 geschlossenen Gemeinsamen Umfassenden Aktionsplan, auch bekannt als Atom-Deal, nicht neu verhandeln werde.
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Dr. Raz Zimmt – Main Argument
The Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has become a major intelligence apparatus of the Islamic Republic, having increased its influence and broadened its authorities. Iran’s intelligence apparatus, similar to other control and governance apparatuses in the Islamic Republic, is characterized by power plays, rivalries and redundancy. The Intelligence Organization of the IRGC, which answers to the supreme leader, operates alongside the Ministry of Intelligence, which was established in 1984 and answers to the president. The redundancy and overlap in the authorities of the Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization have created disagreements and competition over prestige between the two bodies. In recent years, senior regime officials and officials within the two organizations have attempted to downplay the extent of disagreements between the organizations, and strove to present to domestic and foreign audience a visage of unity.
The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization (ILNA, July 16, 2020)
- The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, in its current form, was established in 2009. The Organization’s origin is in the Intelligence Unit of the IRGC, established shortly after the Islamic Revolution (1979). The Unit underwent several organizational and structural changes, culminating in the establishment of the Intelligence Organization. Since the late 1980s, and even more so in the late 1990s and in the first decade of the 21st century, the intelligence organ of the IRGC has gained power at the expense of the Ministry of Intelligence. The causes for the rise in the power of the IRGC’s intelligence include the blow suffered by the Ministry of Intelligence after the exposure of its involvement in the “chain murders” of Iranian intellectuals; the power struggles between the supreme leader and presidents Muhammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which reinforced the desire of the supreme leader to bolster the intelligence organ of the IRGC, as it is not subject to oversight of the government and the legislative branch; the 2009 Green Movement protests, which demonstrated the need for improved control of the top echelon of the regime, led by the supreme leader, over the means of repression; the waves of protests that erupted in recent years due to the intensifying economic crisis; and growing tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies since the withdrawal of the United States under the leadership of President Trump from the nuclear accord (JCPOA). The upgrade in the status of the Intelligence Organization and the expansion of its authorities is part of a general trend of the rise of the IRGC, which currently plays a significant role in Iran’s political system and economy.
- Starting in 2009, after the Intelligence Branch of the IRGC was upgraded to an Organization, Iranian cleric Hossein Taeb, who is considered to be a close adviser to Khamenei, has headed the Organization. Taeb joined the IRGC in the early 1980s, served for about a decade in the Intelligence Ministry, and in the late 1990s, returned to the IRGC. In 2008, he was appointed as the commander of the Basij arm of the IRGC, and played a central role in repressing the 2009 protests. Shortly after the quashing of the protest movement, he was appointed as the leader of the Intelligence Organization. He holds hardline and hawkish views, which reflect the official line dictated by the supreme leader of Iran.
Hossein Taeb (Tabnak, January 27, 2020)
- Similarly to the decentralized modus operandi of the IRGC over the past decade, the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC operates through intelligence centers operating across Iran’s 31 provinces. Based on partial and sporadic information about the structure of the organization, it appears that it is comprised of a number of thematic departments, in line with the tasks assigned to the Organization.
Some of the central tasks of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC are: foiling terror attacks, thwarting political subversion, actively participating in repression of protests and riots, combating “Western cultural penetration” and morality violations, monitoring and enforcement in the virtual sphere, countering ethnic separatism and “religious deviance,” preventing grave crimes and smuggling, and tackling economic corruption. In recent years, additional missions were assigned to the Organization, which were previously under the sole purview of the Intelligence Ministry, such as: capturing regime opponents abroad, arresting tourists and dual-nationality Iranians for the purpose of prisoner swap deals with Western countries, or for advancing various economic interests. In addition, the Organization’s involvement in repressing regime opponents and critics at home has been expanded.
- According to a number of unverified reports, the cyber arm of the IRGC also operates under the Intelligence Organization. The Cyber Defense Command of the IRGC was established over the past decade to protect local information systems from cyber attacks; monitor organized crime, terrorism and cyber intelligence collection; thwart attacks on the values of the Islamic Revolution; and increase the security of user of cyber systems.
- The expanding roles and growing clout of the Organizations have resulted in increased public and political criticism of the Organization, which includes accusations of abuse of its authorities, as well as involvement in corruption and financial irregularities. Despite this criticism, not only has the standing of the Organization not been diminished, but it appears that the regime is determined to bolster the Organization’s standing even further, as the challenges the regime faces mount at home and abroad.
The Structure of the Report
- This report contains the following chapters:
- Central Milestones in the Evolution of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC
- The Relationship between the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC with the Ministry of Intelligence
- The Head of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC, Hossein Taeb
- Estimated Structure of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC
- Responsibilities of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC:
- Combating Terrorism
- Foiling Political Subversion
- Repression of Protests and Riots
- Kidnapping Regime Opponents Abroad
- Arrests of Tourists and Dual Nationals
- Combating “Western Cultural Penetration” and Preserving Morals in Physical and Virtual Spaces
- Combating Ethnic Separatism
- Combating Manifestations of “Religious Deviance”
- Preventing Grave Crimes
- Foiling Smuggling
- Combating Economic Corruption
- The Fight against COVID-19
- Accusations of the Organization of Involvement in Corruption and Irregularities
- This is the first extensive report to be written on the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC. Over the past decade, a handful of articles have been written about the Iranian intelligence community, which provide a partial and limited description of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC. Among the most prominent of these studies is an extensive study of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, published in December 2012, by the American Congressional Research Service “Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security: A Profile;” an article by Carl Anthony Wege, titled “Iran’s Intelligence Establishment” published in the summer of 2015; and the article by Udit Banerjea titled “Revolutionary Intelligence: The Expanding Intelligence Role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” published in the fall of 2015.
- In addition, a number of studies published in recent years dealt extensively with the activities of the IRGC. The research produced by Ali Alfoneh, Afshon Ostovar and Saeid Golkar are worth noting, as well as a 2009 report published by RAND Corporation. However, those studies too, which described the various aspects of the IRGC’s activities at length, rarely discussed the work of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC.
- For the purpose of writing this report, I relied on the above-mentioned studies, in addition to two other types of sources:
- Occasional reports, published in recent years on Iranian news websites, websites affiliated with Iran’s exiled opposition, and websites of leading Western media outlets in Persian, and particularly BBC Persian.
- Many dozens of reports published in Iranian media about the activities in various spheres of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC.
- Naturally, the publicly available information about the activities of one of the most secretive organizations in Iran is non-systematic and the extent of its veracity is often unclear. This applies to reports published by the Iranian regime, which are often intended to glorify the capabilities of the organization. Reports published by the Iranian opposition, on the other hand, often include false information intended to tarnish the image of the Iranian regime. More so, the extent to which the information published about the Intelligence Organization is up-to-date is also unclear, due to the structural changes that the Organization has undergone over the years. Due to the secretive nature of the organization, some of the reports about it (particularly in the West) contain factual errors. The challenge of lack of reliable, up-to-date information is particularly acute when it comes to describing the structure of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC. Despite these limitations, it is possible, based on the available information, to describe the main spheres of activity of the Intelligence Organization, its position within Iran’s intelligence community, and the major trends in its evolution over the years.
The Intelligence Organization of the IRGC (سازمان اطلاعات سپاه پاسداران) has become a major intelligence agency of the Islamic Republic over the past decade, increasing its influence and holding broad authorities.
- The Iranian system of rule involves multiple bodies who are tasked with overlapping responsibilities. This institutional redundancy is a prominent characteristic of the Iranian regime, which allows the supreme leader, who holds most executive authorities, to encourage competition between the various power centers that have overlapping authorities, thus preventing the concentration of power in any one of them. One such example is the overlap of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the adviser on international affairs to the supreme leader, the Supreme National Security Council, the Strategic Council on Foreign Policy, and the Qods Force of the IRGC, all of them institutions involved in developing and executing Iran’s foreign policy. Iran’s intelligence apparatus is also characterized by power struggles, particularly between the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC, which answers to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the Ministry of Intelligence (وزارت اطلاعات), which answers to the president (although the appointment of the minister of intelligence by the president is subject to the approval of the supreme leader).
The logos of the Ministry of Intelligence (right) and IRGC (left)
- In October 2014, the Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, described 16 governmental bodies (some of which were established over the past two decades) involved in intelligence activities. According to the report, the coordination between the intelligence agencies is vested in the Council for Intelligence Coordination (Fars, October 14, 2014). According to the 1983 law that established the Ministry of Intelligence, the Council for Intelligence Coordination initially included nine members: the minister of intelligence, the attorney general, the minister of interior or his representative, the head of the intelligence security unit of the IRGC, the head of the Intelligence Unit of the IRGC, the head of the Intelligence Security Unit of the Iranian Armed Forces, the minister of foreign affairs or his representative, and the head of the Intelligence Security Unit at the Internal Security Forces. The Council is responsible for holding meetings and exchanging ideas concerning intelligence missions and related issues, exchanging information about methods for carrying out intelligence missions of the various intelligence community members, assigning responsibilities to each of the bodies, coordinating issues common to all the bodies with the Supreme National Security Council, examining suggestions of the Armed Forces regarding intelligence matters for the purpose of transferring the suggestions to the legislative branch, setting criteria for the work of intelligence agencies, and establishing an intelligence “war rooms” for managing crises and emergency situations. The Ministry of Intelligence was determined to be the central intelligence body charged with setting goals, missions and the strategy of the various intelligence agencies (the website of the Ministry of Intelligence, October 18, 2014).
- The work of the council was evident, as an example, in the February 2010 operation to capture Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of the Sunni-Balochi seperatist organization, Jundollah, when the plane he boarded in the UAE, en route to Kyrgyzstan, was forced to land by Iranian authorities. This operation required the coordination between the various intelligence agencies, the armed forces including the IRGC, the Ministry of Intelligence and the Air Force of the Armed Forces (Tasnim, September 21, 2018).
The arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi, the Commander of the Jundollah organization
(YJC, August 6, 2020)
- The Intelligence Organization of the IRGC works in parallel to the Intelligence Protection Organization (سازمان حفاظت اطلاعات سپاه). This organization, established in 1983, also underwent structural changes, similarly to the Intelligence Organization. The Intelligence Protection Organization y works to prevent spying within the IRGC, penetration of the ranks of the organization, and leaking of secret information outside of Iran. The Intelligence Protection Organization is also tasked with protecting senior officials, diplomats, sensitive sites, flights and airports. This Organization is also tasked with political and security monitoring of IRGC members and ensuring their safety. The Organization is currently headed by Mohammad Kazemi, who rarely appears in the media (IranWire.com, April 9, 2019).
Mohammad Kazemi, the Head of the Intelligence Protection Organization of the IRGC
(Fars, January 29, 2017)
- As part of the structural changes carried out within the IRGC in 2009, three units within the Intelligence Protection Organization were merged: the Air Security Unit, tasked with securing planes and airports; the Ansar al-Mahdi Corps , tasked with protecting senior regime officials, except the supreme leader; and the Vali Amr Corps , tasked with the protection of the supreme leader. According to a number of reports, the Vali Amr Corps operates independently, and does now answer to the Organization of Intelligence Protection y (BBC Persian, December 28, 2016).
Central Milestones in the Evolution of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC
- Following the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the dismantling of the National Organization for Security and Intelligence (SAVAK), the IRGC was tasked with the collection of intelligence. During this period, the organization focused on collecting intelligence for the benefit of the persecution campaign the regime led against its political opponents, including Mojahedin-e Khalgh, and the Communist Party (Tudeh). The employees of the Intelligence Unit of the IRGC were recruited among the revolutionary youth, and were overseen by directors with experience in clandestine activity against the monarchy (Shahrvand.com, December 8, 2016). At first, the unit operated under the name The Unit of Intelligence and Investigations, and was involved in the recruitment into the ranks of the IRGC and identifying and repressing anti-revolutionary activities. Later, the name was changed to the Intelligence Bureau, and its intelligence and security authorities were expanded (IranWire.com, April 9, 2019).
- Following the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War (September 1980), and the entry of the IRGC into the battlefield, the organization diverted most of its intelligence resources to the war effort. As a result, the need arose to consolidate the non-war-related intelligence and security activities in the hands of a different body. In 1984, the Ministry of Intelligence was established, and became the central actor in collection of intelligence and thwarting activities against state security. Upon its establishment, most of the resources of the Intelligence Unit of the IRGC were transferred to the new ministry, and the IRGC’s Intelligence Unit became a more operational-tactical one, focusing mostly on gathering military intelligence in support of the war effort (Shahrvand.com, December 8, 2016).
- The involvement of the IRGC in non-military-related security and intelligence mission was resumed after the war (1988). Starting in the late 1980s, the IRGC required intelligence support for operations of the Qods Force, which was established at the end of the war with Iraq, and in assassination operations of Iranian opposition activists abroad, particularly during the 1990s (Shahrvand.com, December 8, 2016). In light of the transformations in its mission, the IRGC’s intelligence unit came to operate under the name The Intelligence Branch of the General Staff of the IRGC (Mashregh News, May 18, 2019).The Branch enjoyed this growth in prestige and authorities owing to the blow suffered by the Ministry of Intelligence after the exposure of its involvement in the “chain killings” of Iranian intellectuals in the 1990s. This involvement led to the resignation of the Minister of Intelligence Ghorbanali Dorri Najafabadi in 2000, and the purging of the Ministry of “rogue ” The subordination of the Ministry of Intelligence to the reformist president at the time, Mohammad Khatami, increased the resolve of the Supreme Leader Khamenei to bolster the Intelligence Branch of the IRGC, which is not subject to the oversight of the government and legislative branch (Majlis), and assign additional tasks to it, the most important of them, repressing regime opponents (Shahrvand.com, December 8, 2016).
- In October 2009, the Intelligence Branch was upgraded to the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC, after it had been merged with a number of other intelligence units within the IRGC. Hossein Taeb, who previously served as the commander of the Basij branch of the IRGC, was appointed to head the Organization. The Organization cohered against the backdrop of the protests, which erupted in the summer of 2009 across Iran (the Green Movement), due to the perceived falsification of the presidential elections in June 2009 to the disadvantage of the reformist opposition. The establishment of the Intelligence Organization awarded the supreme leader and the Iranian leadership with a greater ability to control the means of repression and surveillance, which are not subordinate to the government.
- The diminution of the Ministry of Intelligence was accelerated following the political crisis that erupted between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Khamenei. In April 2011, the president announced that he will accept the resignation of the Minister of Intelligence, Hayder Moslehi. Shortly afterwards, Khamanei issued an extraordinary statement, in which he expressed support for the minister of intelligence, and ordered him to assume his position again. The disagreements between the president and the supreme leader quickly turned into a major political crisis within the leadership of the regime and further reinforced Khamenei’s desire to bolster the standing of the IRGC, which is directly subordinate to him.
- In May 2019, the Intelligence Organization was merged with the Strategic Intelligence Branch of the IRGC. Hossein Taeb remained at the helm of the Organization. Hossein Mohaqeq, who previously served as the head of the Branch for Strategic Intelligence, was appointed as Taeb’s deputy, replacing Hossein Nejat, who served as the deputy head of the Organization since December 2016. Nejat was appointed as the head of the Branch on Cultural and Societal Affairs within the IRGC (Tasnim, May 18, 2019; DW, May 18, 2019). During the ceremony marking the new appointments, the Commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, declared that Iran is waging a total intelligence war with the United States and the “front of the enemies of the revolution and the Islamic Republic.” This total war includes psychological warfare, cyber operations, military operations and public diplomacy. He asserted that it is possible to defeat the enemy in this war. He remarked that the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC is tasked with identifying the threats facing Iran, and not neglect for a single moment the analysis of the strategy of the United States. Salami added that the Intelligence Organization will now place a particular emphasis on the United States and will expand its activities abroad as well (Tasnim, May 18, 2019).
The commander of the IRGC (left) alongside Hassan Mohaqeq, the Deputy Head of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC (Tasnim, May 18, 2019)
- The organizational changes in the IRGC’s intelligence took place against the backdrop of the intensifying conflict between Iran and the United States due to the May 2018 decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw from the nuclear accord (JCPOA) and adopt the “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran. In addition, the structural changes occurred after the announcement of the United States to add the IRGC to the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations of the U.S. State Department starting April 15, 2019. The growing standing of Taeb at the helm of the upgraded Organization is seen as another indication for the determination of the regime to enhance the response to the growing challenges at home and abroad, and intensify internal repression due to concerns about the resumption of popular protests in response to the worsening economic crisis. Following the merger of the Intelligence Organization with the Branch of Strategic Intelligence, the newspaper Jahan assessed that the structural changes are intended to boost the capacities of the IRGC and its ability to operate in the total intelligence campaign against the United States, and to provide a better response to the threats originating in “hostile intelligence agencies” and the “regional and supra-regional intelligence networks” operated by them (Jahan News, May 19, 2019).
- In November 2019, the Deputy Commander of the IRGC, Ali Fadavi, addressed the expansion of the missions of the Intelligence Organization in light of the protests across the country and escalating tensions between Iran and the United State and its allies. Fadavi accused the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Saudi Arabia of being involved in the protest that erupted across Iran in November 2019 (“the fuel protests”), and remarked that the intelligence of the IRGC is responsible for carrying out tasks on behalf of the IRGC, and is serving as the law enforcement arm of the Judiciary (Mashregh News, November 24, 2019).
- The upgrade in the standing of the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC and expansion of its missions should be seen as part of an overall trend of increasing clout of the IRGC, which currently plays a significant role in Iran’s political system and economy. The appointment of Mohammad-Ali Jafari as the Commander of the IRGC in 2007 marked an important step in increasing the involvement of the organization in politics. In a speech Jaafari made in September 2007, he stressed that the IRGC is not a uni-dimensional military organization, and that its goal is to preserve the Revolution and its accomplishments against enemies as home. Jaafari defined the IRGC as an organization that is not “purely military” but also “political and ideological” (Hamshahri, September 29, 2007).
Iran’s nuclear work goes forward at 2 covert sites – opposition
Oct 25, 2020 @ DEBKA FILES ISRAEL – Nuclear work continued surreptitiously at two undisclosed nuclear weapons development sites operated by the Revolutionary Guards after Iran signed a nuclear accord (JCPOA) with six world powers in 2015. Both sites are operated by the Revolutionary Guards. The revelations came from the US office of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in a special briefing this week.
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25 Oct 2020 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A German-Iranian woman has been reportedly been arrested in Iran and is being held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin’s prison.
Nahid Taghavi, 66, was arrested at her Tehran apartment on October 16, according to a statement by the Germany-based International Society for Human Rights (IGFM). The Iran-born architect, who has held German citizenship since 2003, had her passport and German identity card confiscated and is being used as a “political bargaining chip,” according to the organisation.
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