Iran Digest Week of May 4 - 11

Iran Digest Week of May 4 - 11

Iran to negotiate with Europeans, Russia and China about remaining in nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that his government remains committed to a nuclear deal with world powers, despite a decision by the United States to withdraw from the accord, but is also ready to step up its uranium enrichment.
Rouhani, who spoke following President Donald Trump's speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal, said he has directed Iranian diplomats to negotiate with the deal's remaining signatories, including European countries, Russia and China. (Chicago Tribune)

Read More

Iran's Use of Religion as a Tool in its Foreign Policy

Iran's Use of Religion as a Tool in its Foreign Policy

By AIC Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

o   Introduction

Religion can be perceived as a core factor in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. As the only state in the Middle East whose government is guided by theology further encouraged by its constant usage of religiously-imbued messages, it is easy to come to such a conclusion, despite its fallacy. It is therefore important to analyze the limitations of religion in Iranian foreign policy to understand, instead, what drives it. This paper argues that religion is nothing more than a tool leveraged to aid Iran in its aspirations towards becoming a more significant regional player. I will discuss Iran’s foreign policy and show that despite the religious discourse, Iran’s foreign policy is shaped instead by the regime’s interests. It must not be overlooked that religion is an important tool and I will show how the regime leverages it in its involvements abroad. Religion, however, is not the core principle driving foreign policies. Further, it is crucial to discuss Saudi Arabia to address how both players use religion in their competition for regional power status. Analyzing Saudi Arabia is important because it has implications for the region’s future, as well as a mechanism of comparing Iran’s activity.

Read More

AIC's Chairman Senator Johnston interviewed by Tehran Times

AIC's Chairman Senator Johnston interviewed by Tehran Times

Originally published on TehranTimes

 Bennett Johnston, an American politician in the Democratic Party and lobbyist who represented Louisiana in the United States Senate is the current chairman of the American-Iranian Council. Mr. Johnston is of the opinion that “Trying to predict what President Trump will do is a fool’s errand, but it does appear that every indication is that he wishes to withdraw from JCPOA.”

“Netanyahu clearly wants to kill the deal,” Johnston tells the Tehran Times.

The Chairman of the American-Iranian Council also adds that “IAEA is the proper group to assess Iran's compliance with JCPOA..”

Read More

AIC Statement on President Trump's Decision to Withdraw from the JCPOA

AIC Statement on President Trump's Decision to Withdraw from the JCPOA

The American Iranian Council is dismayed by the Trump administration’s decision today to pull out of the JCPOA.
 
As we stated on October 13, 2017 when President Trump decided not to recertify the Iran Deal, we oppose the action for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. The fact that Iran has complied with the terms of the JCPOA. The IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance and top U.S. military and State Department officials have also confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal;

  2. The JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement with Iran, but a multilateral agreement among the P5+1, which includes important U.S. allies who continue to express their support for the deal.  Rejecting it puts the US on the opposite side of a major international agreement and its allies;

  3. Scrapping the JCPOA is a dangerous precedent to set given the need for potentially similar diplomatic negotiations with countries like North Korea; and

  4. Rejecting the nuclear deal harms US interests: it reduces the US' stature around the world and it replaces the benefits of the deal (such as stability and a non-nuclear Iran) with instability and uncertainty, which could result in additional US military presence in the region.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 4

Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 4

Israel Says Secret Files Detail Iran’s Nuclear Subterfuge

Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran on Monday of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.
Days before President Trump was to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Netanyahu presented records from a secret warehouse in Tehran, making the case that Iranian leaders had deceived the international nuclear agency when they insisted their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Israeli spies seized the documents in an overnight raid in January, a senior Israeli official said. (New York Times)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 20 - 27

Iran Digest Week of April 20 - 27

Mattis says Iran nuclear deal includes 'robust' verification

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday emphasized the value of certain aspects of the Iran nuclear agreement, even as President Donald Trump considers pulling out of the 2015 deal, which he has attacked repeatedly and this week called "insane."
Without explicitly giving his opinion about whether the United States should stick with the agreement, Mattis said that after reading the full text of the deal three times, he was struck by provisions that allow for international verification of Iran's compliance. He said that since becoming defense secretary in January 2017, he also has read what he called a classified protocol in the agreement.
"I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat," he said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in" with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency to check on compliance. (Star Tribune)

Read More

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Sputnik News about the Nuclear Deal

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Sputnik News about the Nuclear Deal

Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary has said that in case of US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran will resume operation of its frozen nuclear facilities. Radio Sputnik discussed Iran nuclear deal with Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, founder of the American-Iranian Council and a professor of public policy at Rutgers University.

Sputnik: Now there has also been some talk of perhaps of re-negotiating the deal. How open is Iran to that kind of possibility and will Iran be open to any discussions?

Dr Hooshang Amirahmadi: I don’t know. Apparently they are saying no, but I do believe they will. In fact that has been my advice to Tehran from day one when Mr. Trump came on board. I told them that Mr. Trump is both a threat and an opportunity. That Tehran should take him in saying that I want to negotiate. After all, the very fact of negotiating with Mr. Trump would have been a positive move for Tehran, because that would have given them an opening to Mr. Trump’s mind and his people.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 13 - 20

Iran Digest Week of April 13 - 20

European lawmakers ask Congress to save Iran deal

Hundreds of lawmakers in Germany, France and the UK wrote an open letter to the US Congress asking it to back the Iran nuclear deal, despite US President Donald Trump's threat to terminate the agreement next month.
"Abandoning the deal would diminish the value of any promises or threats made by our countries. It would also diminish our capability to keep Iran nuclear-free after the expiration of the special provisions of the JCPOA," the letter reads. "If we maintain our alliance now, we will be in the position to keep Iran's nuclear aspirations in check in the long run."
The letter continues: "But let us be clear: if the deal breaks down, it will well-nigh be impossible to assemble another grand coalition built around sanctions against Iran. We must preserve what took us a decade to achieve and has proven to be effective." (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 6 - April 13

Renewed sanctions need not mean U.S. exit from Iran deal: Mnuchin

A decision by U.S. President Donald Trump not to renew sanctions relief for Iran on May 12 would not necessarily mean the United States had withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear what Mnuchin meant by his comment but it appeared to signal the Trump administration believes the agreement will not necessarily collapse if Trump chooses not to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Iran.
The crux of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - was that Iran would restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy. (Reuters)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 30 - April 6

Iran Digest Week of March 30 - April 6

Iranian man granted visa to donate bone marrow to brother in US

After almost two months, the US State Department approved a visa for an Iranian man to come to the United States in order to have bone marrow transplant surgery to help his brother, who has cancer.
Naturalized US citizen Maziar Hashemi, 60, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer, in September. According to his doctors, the only treatment that can cure his cancer is a bone marrow transplant. His brother, Kamiar Hashemi, is a 100% bone marrow match to Maziar, but he lives in Iran.
Iran is one of eight countries subject to restrictions on their citizens entering the United States as part of a Trump administration policy implemented in December. Under this policy, people from Iran -- both immigrants and visitors -- are prevented from entering the United States unless they are students or scholars or have an exchange visitor visa. Iranians can still apply for visas, but many have been denied since the ban took effect, although waivers can be granted. (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 23 - 30

Iran Digest Week of March 23 - 30

Iran angered by US imposition of cyber sanctions

Iran has railed against US sanctions imposed on 10 citizens and a tech firm accused of cyber attacks on at least 320 universities worldwide, along with US firms and government agencies.
Tehran called the sanctions a gimmick that was provocative, illegal and unjustified.
The Mabna Institute is accused of stealing 31 terabytes of "valuable intellectual property and data".
Nine of the 10 individuals have been indicted separately for related crimes.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi said the new US sanctions were an act of provocation, and that the move would not prevent Iran's technological progress. (BBC News)

Read More

Policy Recommendations for US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era

Policy Recommendations for US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era

By: Shiva Darian, Gabriela Billini, and Nicolás Pedreira
AIC Research Fellows

Introduction:

Allies for most of the 20th century, the United States and Iran were radically divided after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew Mohammad Reza Shah and replaced him with a theocratic government. Throughout the last 38 years, U.S. policy toward Iran has fluctuated between open animosity and cautious mistrust. Former President Obama’s unprecedented approach to U.S.-Iran relations involved increasing pressure on the nation through the implementation of sanctions, while conveying a willingness to negotiate in order to come to a deal on what was perceived as one of the biggest threats to international security.

The Framework for Cooperation Agreement was established after months of negotiations and multiple meetings with the IAEA and the P5+1 (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and Germany). Finally, in July of 2015, a consensus was reached and unanimously ratified by the UN Security Council as Resolution 2231 (2015). Through diplomacy, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Deal, aimed to establish a somewhat comprehensive resolution to an outstanding issue between the two nations.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 16 - 23

Iran Digest Week of March 16 - 23

On Persian New Year, Trump slams Iranian rulers

President Donald Trump had a message to Iranians celebrating Persian New Year, known as Nowruz: Your country's government is corrupt.
He began the statement wishing "a beautiful and blessed Nowruz" to people across the globe, but went on to slam Iran's government and military leaders. The holiday, which this year falls on Tuesday, marks the arrival of spring. It's celebrated by millions across the globe.
"The history of Nowruz is rooted in Iran, where for millennia a proud nation has overcome great challenges by the strength of its culture and the resilience of its people," Trump said in a statement released Monday. "Today, the Iranian people face another challenge: rulers who serve themselves instead of serving the people." (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 9 - 16

Iran Digest Week of March 9 - 16

Pompeo expected to reinforce Trump's hardline instincts on Iran and North Korea

CIA Director Mike Pompeo's expected move to lead the State Department is likely to lead to harder-line policies toward Iran and North Korea, though his ability to shape policy under President Donald Trump remains to be seen.
Pompeo has advocated for military strikes against Iran while lobbying hard against the nuclear deal with Tehran. He's also been a force behind the administration's drive to squeeze North Korea.
In the short term, the announcement that Pompeo would take on the leadership of the oldest US Cabinet agency is creating uncertainty and instability, observers said, as the Trump Administration pushes out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (CNN)

Read More

Nowruz Greetings

Nowruz Greetings

Dear Friend,

On behalf of everyone here at the American Iranian Council, we wish you a happy Nowruz!

Nowruz is the first day of spring and the first day of the new Iranian calendar year, which will be 1397 on March 20 (2018).  Nowruz has been celebrated for over three millennia, and Iranians of all religious and ethnic orientations share in the joys and prosperity it promises.  
 
The year 1396 was an especially difficult period in US-Iran relations marked by (i) uncertainty over the future of the JCPOA, (ii) concern over growing “Iranian influence” in the region, (iii) US support for Iranians protesting economic and social conditions, and (iv) the continued implementation of a US travel ban on Iranians, among other significant matters. 

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 2 - 9

Iran Digest Week of March 2 - 9

US Top Court Turns Away Dispute Involving Iran’s Bank Melli

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up Iranian government-owned Bank Melli's appeal of a lower court ruling that allowed victims of militant attacks allegedly backed by Iran to seek millions of dollars in compensation from the bank.
The justices left in place the lower court's ruling that allowed some plaintiffs, trying to satisfy part of nearly $1 billion in court judgments against Iran, to go after roughly $17.6 million that Visa Inc and Franklin Resources Inc owed to Bank Melli related to credit card use in Iran.
This marked the second time in two weeks the justices have acted in a case in which Iran has refused to pay judgments won in American courts by U.S. plaintiffs who have accused Tehran of complicity in various militant attacks. (Yahoo News)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of February 23 - March 2

Iran Digest Week of February 23 - March 2

Trump Administration Turns Away Iranian Christians

The Trump administration has denied asylum to more than 100 Iranian Christians and other refugees who face possible persecution in their home country, despite White House promises to relieve the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East.
The group of refugees, mostly Christians along with other non-Muslims, have been stranded in Vienna for more than a year, waiting for final approval to resettle in the United States. Now they face possible deportation back to Iran, where rights advocates say they face potential retaliation or imprisonment by the regime in Tehran for seeking asylum in the United States.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has vowed action to alleviate the suffering of Christians in the region and the administration has condemned Tehran’s treatment of religious minorities. But critics say the decision on the Iranian Christians shows the administration had failed to live up to its own rhetoric. (Foreign Policy)

Read More

AIC's President Speaks about "Iran's Perilous Choices" at the Brookings Doha Center

AIC's President Speaks about "Iran's Perilous Choices" at the Brookings Doha Center

Speech at the Brookings Institution Doha Center (BDC)
Doha, Qatar, February 26, 2018

By Hooshang Amirahmadi, Rutgers University

Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening! Let me begin by thanking the Brookings Doha Center for organizing this timely panel on Iran and for inviting me to share my thoughts on the subject with you.

The title of my talk is: Iran’s Perilous Choices: State Alteration or Societal Disruption

Unhappily, I must begin by saying that all is not well with Iran today: The nation faces formidable domestic challenges in economic, political, social and environmental spheres as well as tough external challenges, more notably in relations with the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Iran also faces a crisis of identity and confidence as it also faces an uncertain future. As things stand, the republic is neither Islamic, nor revolutionary or even nationalistic, and it has also lost confidence in its own future. 

Read More

Iran Digest Week of February 16 - 23

Iran Digest Week of February 16 - 23

Supreme Court Forbids Seizure of Ancient Persian Artifacts

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Americans injured in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem cannot seize ancient Persian artifacts from a Chicago museum to satisfy a $71.5 million court judgment against Iran, which they had accused of complicity in the attack.
The justices, in an 8-0 ruling, upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of Iran that had prevented the plaintiffs from collecting on the judgment, which Tehran has not paid, by obtaining antiquities held at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The important Persian cultural artifacts, on loan from Iran to the museum since the 1930s, include clay tablets boasting some of the oldest writing in the world. (Reuters)

Read More

راههای حل و خروج از مخمصه کنونی ایران

راههای حل و خروج از مخمصه کنونی ایران

By AIC Publication Committee Member Hamid Zangeneh

نظام جمهوری اسلامی در گذشته به خواستهای مردم توجه چندانی نکرده و با توسل به انتساب خواسته ها به تحریکات حقیقی و مجازی خارجیها به سرکوب ادامه داده است. هر از چند گاهی سر و صدای اصلاحات و تغییرات را راه میاندازند ولی میدانند که نمیتوانند مسائل را به نحوی قابل قبول حل کنند چون بقول معروف کارد دسته خود را نمیبرد. در نتیجه، اعتراضات بیشتر و بیشتر همه گیر و آشیل نظام ضعیف تر و ضعیف تر شده است.
به نظر میرسد که این بار اعتراضات به فرای عده ای تحصیل کرده که دسترسی به رسانه های مجازی دارند رفته و خطرناکتر شده است. نمیدانم که آیا نظام فکر میکند که میتوانند مجددا با دستگیری عده ای “آرامش” بر قرار کنند یا حداقل برای حفظ نظام حاضرند که تغییرات اساسی در نظام بوجود بیاورند. بنظر ما تغییرات اساسی که لازم است مسئله قیمت پوست و پیازنمیتواند باشد.
نظام جمهوری اسلام بر مبنای انحصارسیاسی و اقتصادی است. پستهای سیاسی به دوستان و آشنایان اختصاص دارد و بخشهای اقتصادی به وابستگان و قدرتمندان سپرده میشوند. درآمد نفت ازطرق مختلف درخارج از ایران در حسابهای شخصی سرمایه گذاری میشوند و به مردم کوچه و بازار سهمی نمیرسد. بانگها سپرده های مردم را چمع آوری میکنند و به وابستگان و قدرتمندان وامهای کلان در مقابل وثیقه های پوچ میدهند. بانکها اکثرا ورشکسته هستند ولی به رفتار خود در زیر سایه نظام ادامه میدهند. بقول آقای لاریجانی، رئیس مجلس شورای اسلام، فساد همه گیر شده است و بآسانی قابل حل نیست.
بنابراین اگر بخواهند مسائل مملکت را بدون خون ریزی و خرابکاری حل کنند باید از خودگذشتگی و خلوص نیت همه جانبه، بخصوص ار طرف اولیاء نظام جمهوری اسلامی، نشان داده شود. ما اگر بخواهیم کلیه خواستها و منویات مردم را ریز کنیم باید طوماری بی انتها تهیه کنیم. بنابراین ما در زیر فقط به خواستهای بنیادی که میتوانند گشایشی در زندگی سیاسی، اجتماعی، و اقتصادی ایرانیان باشند بطور سرخطی اشاره میکنیم:

Read More