Iran Digest: Week of August 21-28, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of August 21-28, 2015

Harry Reid: I will back Iran deal

President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran just won the backing of the Senate’s top Democrat.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Sunday that he “strongly” supports the agreement reached by six world powers and Iran meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions – vowing that he will do “everything in my power” to defend the deal.

“At the end of the day, there is no doubt in my mind that the threat of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon — the one outcome we all agree is unacceptable — is far more likely if Congress rejects this agreement,” Reid said in a lengthy statement explaining his support for the nuclear deal. (Politico)

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AIC Board Member Robert Hunter examines the lessons of the US debate over the JCPOA

AIC Board Member Robert Hunter examines the lessons of the US debate over the JCPOA

Originally published in LobeLog
By Robert E. Hunter
AIC Board Member and Former US Ambassador to NATO

The US debate on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is in full swing and will not be resolved soon. That must wait until the final vote in the House and Senate on whether to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval. Until then, we can expect only rival commentaries on the merits and demerits of the JCPOA. These will be less about the merits/demerits than about the political power and influence of the various parties to the national discussion.

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Iran Digest: Week of August 14-21, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of August 14-21, 2015

Despite loud opposition, Congress now unlikely to block Obama's nuclear deal with Iran

The fiercely contested Iran nuclear deal will likely survive in Congress despite unified GOP opposition and some Democratic defections, the top Senate Republican says. That would mean a major foreign policy win for President Barack Obama.

Obama has "a great likelihood of success," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in his home state of Kentucky this week — giving public voice to what other Republicans have acknowledged in private. "I hope we can defeat it, but the procedure is obviously stacked in the president's favor."

Indeed, even as Congress' August recess has hardened Republicans' opposition to the deal on Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, reality is setting in: They probably can't stop it. Significant Democratic defections from Obama would be required in both chambers of Congress, and even with opponents mounting a strenuous lobbying campaign in key congressional districts, such a prospect looks remote. (US News and World Report)

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AIC Chairman Sen. J. Bennett Johnston and Sen. Richard Lugar weigh in on Schumer’s decision

AIC Chairman Sen. J. Bennett Johnston and Sen. Richard Lugar weigh in on Schumer’s decision

Originally published in Reuters
By J. Bennett Johnston and Richard Lugar

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key voice in the Democratic Party leadership, has announced that he will not support the international agreement designed to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We realize that all senators must balance their concerns about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action against the consequences for the United States if Washington rejects it. We just do not agree with how the senator balances up the account. Here’s why:

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Iran Digest: Week of August 7-14, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of August 7-14, 2015

Switzerland Lifts Sanctions on Iran

The Swiss Federal Council officially lifted Switzerland’s sanctions against Iran Wednesday in the wake of a landmark nuclear deal.

“The Federal Council wishes today’s steps to be seen as a sign of its support for the implementation of the nuclear agreement and its interest in deepening bilateral relations with Iran,” the Council said in a statement.

In July, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions in a deal negotiated by the U.S., China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The deal still awaits approval in some places and implementation. The Federal Council said it “reserves the right to reintroduce the lifted measures” if the the implementation of the international agreement fails. (TIME)

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AIC Board Member Robert Hunter discusses the debate over Iran nuclear deal

AIC Board Member Robert Hunter discusses the debate over Iran nuclear deal

Originally published in LobeLog

By Robert E. Hunter
AIC Board Member and former US Amb. to NATO

The US debate on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is in full swing and will not be resolved soon. That must wait until the final vote in the House and Senate on whether to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval. Until then, we can expect only rival commentaries on the merits and demerits of the JCPOA. These will be less about the merits/demerits than about the political power and influence of the various parties to the national discussion.

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AIC's Kayvon Afshari speaks with HPL about Schumer's opposition to Iran deal

AIC's Kayvon Afshari speaks with HPL about Schumer's opposition to Iran deal

In this interview with HuffPost Live, AIC Director of Communications Kayvon Afshari discusses Senator Chuck Schumer's recent announcement that he will oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.

Afshari points out that Schumer makes maximalist demands of Iran, saying, "One of the demands that he makes is 'anytime, anywhere' access to any of Iran's non-nuclear, military facilities. Iran is not a defeated party here. Iran is not Imperial Japan, which had two atomic bombs dropped on it and is acceding to terms of surrender. Iran has been negotiating on this issue for a long time."

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Congressional Dispatches: Interview with Dr. Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution

Congressional Dispatches: Interview with Dr. Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution

Conducted by AIC Outreach Coordinator Kayvan Vakili

Kayvan Vakili: In your testimony you said you are an “unenthusiastic supporter” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Can you expand on that?

Dr. Ken Pollack: Sure. I think that the deal will impose some meaningful constraints on the Iranian nuclear program for at least the first 10, arguably 15 years. I think it has some very important critical issues in terms of ultimately giving the United States control over whether sanctions get reimposed and what the inspectors can see; all these things are important to it. And I think that it does ultimately create enough disincentives in Iran that it seems unlikely that the Iranians will cheat in some meaningful way on the agreement. As a result, I look at the deal and I say that I think that US interests will be better served by having the deal than by not having the deal.

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Congressional Dispatches: Senate Hearing on JCPOA Implications for Middle East Policy

Congressional Dispatches: Senate Hearing on JCPOA Implications for Middle East Policy

Kayvan Vakili, AIC Outreach Coordinator

On Wednesday August 5, 2015, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held its final hearing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) before the start of Congress’s August recess. The senators weighed testimony from Michael Singh, senior fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Dr. Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, to evaluate the impact of the JCPOA on US policy in the Middle East.

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Iran Digest: Week of July 31-August 7, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of July 31-August 7, 2015

Obama: Iran Nuclear Accord a 'Very Good Deal'

President Barack Obama vigorously defended the international accord to restrain Iran's nuclear program by saying it "cuts off all of Iran's pathways to a bomb."

"It is a very good deal," Obama said Wednesday in a nearly hour-long address at American University in Washington.

He said if the pact is implemented, it 'would be good for Iran. It would be good for the United States. It would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. It would be good for the world." The president stressed that the accord builds on an American tradition of “strong, principled diplomacy” with adversaries. (Voice of America)

Read the full text of Obama’s speech

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AIC Statement in response to President Obama's speech at American University

AIC Statement in response to President Obama's speech at American University

Facing a Congress that is largely concerned about and skeptical of his signature foreign policy achievement, President Obama made the case for the Senate and House of Representatives to approve the Iran nuclear deal and lift sanctions at a major address at American University. The American Iranian Council applauds the spirit of Obama’s speech, calls on both the American and Iranian governments to use the deal as an opportunity to pivot toward negotiations on the broader relationship, and strongly objects to the president’s continued military threat against Iran, even when pushing for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear dispute.

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Congressional Dispatches: Senate Hearing on JCPOA

Congressional Dispatches: Senate Hearing on JCPOA

By Ceena Modarres, AIC Research Associate

As the Senate nears its August recess, the debate over the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran shows no signs of slowing. Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from the Institute for Science and International Security’s Mr. David Albright, the National Institute for Public Policy’s Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, Ph.D., and Harvard’s Dr. Gary Samore on a number of issues related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The committee was preparing for a confidential meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano Wednesday, thus much of the hearing focused on the role of the IAEA in the JCPOA. In fact, ranking Member Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) explicitly asked the witnesses: “what questions should we be asking the Director General [tomorrow]?

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AIC Director of Communications speaks with HuffPost Live about US-Iran relations beyond nuclear deal

AIC Director of Communications speaks with HuffPost Live about US-Iran relations beyond nuclear deal

In a recent interview with HuffPost Live, AIC Director of Communications Kayvon Afshari discussed various aspects of the nuclear deal with Iran, including the lobbying effort by AIPAC, the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and the need for the US to move beyond the nuclear issue with Iran. He says, "I think that it's essential for this nuclear deal to serve as an opportunity to pivot from purely nuclear, like centrifuges, uranium, all those technical issues, to all the broader issues because those need to be dealt with. I worry that if those broader issues are not dealt with and the core mistrust between Iran and the United States is not dealt with, this deal could fall apart and some conflict...could happen that makes the deal potentially fall apart."

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AIC Founder and President Dr. Amirahmadi writes about the political economy of the nuclear deal

AIC Founder and President Dr. Amirahmadi writes about the political economy of the nuclear deal

The JCPOA and the Iranian Political Economy

By Hooshang Amirahmadi
AIC Founder and President

A major reason Iran wanted a nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of nations was sanctions relief. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had allowed the negotiations for this purpose and to reduce tension with the US. He had even established a “red line” for the negotiators regarding sanctions relief: that it must begin “simultaneously” with the signing of the deal – which was ignored in favor of reducing tension.

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AIC Research Associate Ceena Modarres interviews Richard Nephew of the Brookings Institution

AIC Research Associate Ceena Modarres interviews Richard Nephew of the Brookings Institution

AIC Research Associate Ceena Modarres recently spoke with Richard Nephew of the Brookings Institution, who is an expert on arms control and non-proliferation. In this interview, Nephew discusses a range of topics, including the effectiveness of sanctions and the future of US-Iran relations following the recent nuclear deal.

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Iran Digest: Week of July 24-31, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of July 24-31, 2015

Obama implores supporters to lobby Congress in favor of Iran nuclear deal

President Barack Obama appealed to his supporters to be more active and “get loud” in pushing Congress to approve the Iran nuclear deal, during a 20-minute conference call on Thursday.

Pushing back on critics, the president said he’s “absolutely convinced that this is a very good deal that we should be proud of.. this deal cuts off the 4 main pathways for Iran to get nuclear weapons… Iran under this agreement can never get a nuclear weapon.”

Obama called out the critics, “people who would be opposed to any deal with Iran.” He specifically targeted AIPAC, who has formed a tax-exempt lobbying group to oppose the nuclear agreement – “the 20 million dollars that’s being spent on on ads on TV” – putting them in same category with those “that were responsible for us getting into the Iraq war” reached last week with Iran. (Haaretz)

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Khamenei’s Strategy for the JCPOA: No War, No Peace

Khamenei’s Strategy for the JCPOA: No War, No Peace

By Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi
AIC Founder and President

The P5+1 reached a comprehensive nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Iran this July after almost two years of marathon negotiations. It is still too early to conclusively render judgement on the merits of the deal for either party, as it still awaits approval and implementation. While the US wanted to disarm Iran of its nuclear capability, Iran wanted to get relief from sanctions. Considering that the deal struck was a compromise, both sides have made gains as well as losses on paper. However, the winner or loser will be ultimately decided at the end of the implementation period, assuming approval and that no dispute will arise in the course of the next several years.

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Congressional Dispatches- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Sanctions

Congressional Dispatches- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Sanctions

With the debate over the nuclear deal raging in the US Congress, the AIC is pleased to offer original reporting on the issue in a series entitled, "Congressional Dispatches".

By Ceena Modarres, AIC Research Associate

This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing primarily on sanctions listed under the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. (JCPOA). Opponents of the deal argue that vague language restricts the United States’ ability to reinstate sanctions – the so-called “snapback” mechanism – and institute new sanctions on other activities. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew have maintained that these concerns are unfounded.

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AIC Members Invited to Participate in White House Conference Call

AIC Members Invited to Participate in White House Conference Call

Friends,
 
We’re excited to invite you and your members to join a conference call with President Barack Obama and folks from around the country to discuss the P5+1 Nuclear Deal with Iran. The President will discuss the historic deal and its importance to the country and the international community.
 
The call will take place on Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

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AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei talks with Argentinian radio about the nuclear deal

AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei talks with Argentinian radio about the nuclear deal

In this radio interview, AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei discusses a variety of issues relating to the recent nuclear deal with Iran, including the role of the US Congress, recent comments about Iran made by Hillary Clinton, and how former President Ahmadinejad made reaching a deal nearly impossible. Kiyaei says, "We hope that the nuclear breakthrough, this deal, once implemented will build a much better trust between all the parties involved, the P5+1 which are the world powers and Germany, with Iran and we hope that when we move forward with this, Iran and the United States can bring an end to their years of animosity, mistrust that has been plaguing their relations for many years."

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