AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times

AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times

AIC's Chairman Senator Johnston was recently interviewed by journalist Javad Heiran-Nia of the Tehran Times and Mehr News.  

The Tehran Times interview is copied below.  The Persian language version in Mehr News can be found here:  https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4343377/

“I think it will be stuck in this, “rope-a-dope” - which is to say, continued negotiation and no great breakthroughs and no repudiation of the negotiation; just something that will take a very long time,” Johnston tells the Tehran Times.

The Chairman of the American-Iranian Council also adds that “the United States has broken the agreement which it signed onto.”

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Iran Digest Week of May 25 - June 1

Iran Digest Week of May 25 - June 1

Iran's Evin prison, Ansar-e Hezbollah face new US sanctions

Iran's notorious Evin prison and the paramilitary group Ansar-e Hezbollah have been hit with new US sanctions, for allegedly committing "serious human rights abuses" against its political dissidents and critics of the government.
In an announcement late on Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Steven T Mnuchin said the two entities, as well as six individuals and a communications technology agency, played a role in the "brutal crackdown" of demonstrators following the recent deadly protests in the country. (Al Jazeera)

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Iran Digest Week of May 18 - 25

Iran Digest Week of May 18 - 25

Iran's leader: US pullout from nuclear deal leaves Trump 'lost in history'

Iran’s supreme leader has said that American objections over the 2015 nuclear deal were a pretext for regime change, vowing that the US was bound to fail like “the famous cat in the Tom and Jerry” cartoon.
Speaking two days after the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran could restart the nuclear activities it halted under the agreement if Europe failed to safeguard the agreement after the US pulled out. (The Guardian)

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Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 18

Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 18

As Trump leaves Iran deal, families of Americans jailed in Iran urge talks

A day after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, several families of American prisoners held in the Islamic Republic urged the White House to start humanitarian talks with Tehran to win their release.
The families made the appeal as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was returning home on Wednesday with three Americans freed from imprisonment by North Korea, with whom Washington is hoping to pursue denuclearization talks.
Already tense relations between Washington and Tehran hit a new low with Trump extracting the United States from the 2015 international nuclear accord, making it unlikely either country would be in a mood to engage in any talks soon. (Reuters)

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The United States' Failures with JCPOA Compliance

The United States' Failures with JCPOA Compliance

By AIC Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

The United States has now withdrawn from the JCPOA, citing Iran’s failure to comply with its commitments, despite repeated confirmation from a diverse array of partners who solidly confirm the opposite. There have been accusations since the JCPOA’s signing that Iran has not acted in the spirit of the deal because of their legal ballistic missile tests and regional activity, both of which lie outside of the JCPOA’s areas of concern. What has rarely been discussed, however, is the fact that the US itself has violated the JCPOA. Given the US’ most recent violation of the JCPOA in pulling out of the deal without due cause, what follows is a summary of the ways in which the US has been in violation of the deal since President Trump assumed office. 

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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)

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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.

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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..”

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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