LATEST: Rouhani Hits Back at Critics

Testing limits on their political role, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps intervened in Iran’s nuclear talks with 5+1 Powers.

Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari (pictured) told Tehran’s negotiators that they should consider November’s interim agreement void “if there are any violations of Iran’s rights to nuclear energy or if any part of the agreement is violated by the West or America”.

High-level discussions between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) on a comprehensive nuclear deal resume on April 7-9 in Vienna.

Jafari was careful not to oppose the talks — given they have been endorsed by the Supreme Leader — but he insisted the Rouhani Government should “help with national solidarity by demanding basic rights of the Iranian nation and standing against the nuclear blackmail of the oppressors”.

The commander, citing “ambiguities” in the nuclear deals, continued his injunction on the Government: “(You should) pay close attention from the first step to the final step to achieve our ultimate goal (of enrichment of uranium). God forbid we neglect and lack visual acuity and end up in a position detrimental to our country.”

Last autumn, Rouhani invoked an edict by the late Ayatollah Khomeini to say the Guards must stay out of political affairs.

The elite military unit, with extensive economic interests, has been testing that declaration. Last week, Jafari said the Government must acknowledge a role for the Guards on the “economic and cultural fronts”, where Rouhani has faced increasing criticism from hardliners.

Jafari has also used the headline case of kidnapped Iranian border guards, now held by Sunni insurgents in Pakistan, to expand the influence of the IRGC. Last week, the Guards were given responsibility for a 300-kilometer (186-mile) stretch of the border between southeastern Iran and Pakistan.

(Hat tip to Iran Tracker for translation)

Rouhani Hits Back at Critics

In an address to the directors of Iran’s Free Trade Zone, President Hassan Rouhani hit back at critics of the government, declaring he is willing to “work with every faction and group that works for the national interest, and I will stand against anyone who prefers their personal or group interests above the national interest…The eleventh government is a non-partisan government and the responsibility of such a government is greater because it must answer to every group.”

Sunni Insurgents: Lives of Remaining Kidnapped Border Guards Are Not In Danger

The Sunni insurgency Jaish ul-Adl, which kidnapped five Iranian border guards on February 6 and executed one of them almost two weeks ago, said on Tuesday that the lives of the four remaining hostages are not in danger.

The insurgents said they were negotiating with Iranian authorities.

When Jaish ul-Adl hung one border guard on March 22, it said that another man would be executed in 10 days if demands — including the release of 300 detainees from Iranian prisons — were not met.

Jaish ul-Adl seized the guards in Sistan Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran and took them across the border into Pakistan.

The Assassinated “Nuclear Scientist” Who Was Not Really a Nuclear Scientist

The former head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi has reportedly confirmed what we knew two years ago: an assassinated “nuclear scientist” was not a scientist, but was responsible for procurement for the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed, along with his driver, in an attack in January 2012.

Abbasi told the publication Ramz Oboor, “Roshan was the trade deputy at Kala Electronic Company. This company was responsible for managing the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility and Roshan was in a ‘special’ position at the Atomic Organization and was involved in the provision of specialized equipment.”

Five scientists and other officials connected with the nuclear industry were killed between 2010 and 2012 by shootings and bombings. Abbasi was seriously wounded in one of the attacks.

Fars News: Syrian Military “Kills 1,000 Terrorists” in Latakia Province

Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, proclaims dramatic success for the Syrian military in repelling an insurgent offensive in Latakia Province in western Syria: “The army units killed more than 1,000 terrorists”, according to an “an informed source”.

Fars also repeats the claims of State media — soon established as incorrect — that Syrian forces had retaken a key hilltop, Tower 45, to push back insurgents in the 12-day offensive.

See Syria Daily: Opposition Head Jarba Visits Insurgent Frontline in Latakia