The Iranian parliament approved President Hassan Rouhani’s latest cabinet picks (AP). Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said lawmakers voted for Reza Ardakanian to serve as energy minister, and Mansour Gholami to serve as science minister, which also oversees universities. University students and reformist MPs had come out strongly against Rouhani’s science minister pick, claiming Gholami supported a conservative agenda and previously collaborated with security agencies. With Sunday’s vote, Rouhani’s 18-minister cabinet is now complete.
Iran said it foiled an online plot led by foreigners to spark dissent near the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the celebratory day that marks the ancient Persian king’s birth (AP). State media reported that the Intelligence Ministry disrupted plans for an “illegal gathering.” Pasargadae is the burial place of the ancient Persian King Cyrus the Great. Last year, over 15,000 people gathered at the site, with some even chanting against the Iranian government. Online videos show that a fence was put up around the tomb and roads to the area were shut down, while the paramilitary force that executes orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, held a drill in the area.
According to two top military commanders, the supreme leader has restricted the range of their ballistic missiles to 2,000 km (Radio Farda). It is the first time that high-ranking Iranian officials have mentioned a range limitation imposed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, said, “We believe this range is enough for the Islamic republic as most of the U.S. forces and most of their interests in the region are within this range.” General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, echoed this statement, adding that Iran’s missiles “have a 2,000-kilometer range, based on a limit prescribed by the commander-in-chief.” President Rouhani said in a speech that Tehran has not stopped building missiles and has no intention of doing so (Los Angeles Times). Rouhani insisted that no international agreements prohibited the development of non-nuclear weapons, and that Iran has a right to produce them for its own defense.
The Iranian air force held an annual military exercise to demonstrate its ability to safeguard the country’s airspace (AP). The drill took place near Esfahan, a region that is home to the country’s key nuclear facilities, including the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.