Iran Digest Week of October 6 - 13

Iran Digest Week of October 6 - 13

Trump Won't Certify Iran Nuclear Deal, But He Also Won't Unravel It

President Trump will make good on Friday on a long-running threat to disavow the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. But he stop short, for now, of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal's defenders had once feared.
In a speech on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump will declare his intention not to certify Iran's compliance with the agreement. Doing so essentially kicks to congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the agreement. 
But the Trump administration made it clear that it wants to leave the 2015 accord intact, at least for now. Instead, it is asking congress to establish "trigger points,' which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by congress. (The New York Times)

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AIC's Director in the Huffington Post: "President Trump Just Broke the 'Spirit' of the Iran Deal"

AIC's Director in the Huffington Post: "President Trump Just Broke the 'Spirit' of the Iran Deal"

Stephanie Lester, AIC's Director of Operations
Originally published in the Huffington Post

A total solar eclipse passed through the U.S. mainland this past August and I had the wonderful opportunity to view it. It was, coincidentally, the very “same” eclipse I had seen in Iran eighteen years earlier. It’s called a saros: a repeating pattern of eclipses that happens every eighteen years, eleven days and eight hours, when the “same” eclipse appears one third of the way around the world.

Typically, celestial wonders remind us that human beings and our politics and activities are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but this eclipse had the opposite effect on me. Given the locations from which I viewed the respective events, I focused instead on how frustratingly little US-Iran relations had changed during the saros period – the continued lack of diplomatic relations and rampant mistrust between the countries. In a way, the saros pattern of eclipses reflected for me the obstinate way in which humans are unable to break from their own familiar historical and political patterns.

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AIC's Statement on President Trump's Decision Not to Recertify the Iran Deal

AIC's Statement on President Trump's Decision Not to Recertify the Iran Deal

On July 14, 2015, the American Iranian Council (AIC) celebrated the signing of the JCPOA as an important day for diplomacy and the international community – a day that demonstrated how diplomacy could achieve what threats and coercion could not.  Today, as an organization that has worked for nearly thirty years to promote understanding and dialogue between the US and Iran, the American Iranian Council strongly rejects the Trump administration’s decision to refuse to re-certify the JCPOA.  The AIC further expresses its deep concern that the Trump administration’s decision will be a “black eye” for diplomacy and the US’s reputation around the world.  We oppose this 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 with the deal, including as recently as August 2017.  Top US military and State Department officials have also confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal;

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Iran Digest Week of September 29 - October 6

Iran Digest Week of September 29 - October 6

Family Splits Drive Suit Over 'Most Cruel' Trump Travel Ban

A pair of Iranian romances are at the center of the first lawsuit targeting President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries, Venezuela and North Korea.
A complaint filed late Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, pits the Trump administration against a nonprofit group, Iranian Alliances Across Borders, and six unnamed U.S. citizens of Iranian descent, including two women who are seeking visas for the Iranian men they love.
Trump’s Sept. 24 proclamation will indefinitely limit most travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, all of which were part of the original ban. It will also restrict travel to the U.S. from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. (Bloomberg)

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The Gathering JCPOA Storm and the Way Forward

The Gathering JCPOA Storm and the Way Forward

Hooshang Amirahmadi, PhD
Professor, Rutgers University
 

The JCPOA: From Despair to Hope

The North Korean crisis has pushed the future of the 2015 nuclear deal among Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China), commonly referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), into the background. Yet, this temporary situation will soon reverse itself as a powerful storm is gathering around the subject.  The JCPOA, which was intended to reduce tension between the US and Iran, has been criticized repeatedly by President Donald Trump as a highly deficient agreement, and this change in the White House's attitude under a new president is the primary cause of this developing storm. Indeed, US-Iran relations have unexpectedly become highly explosive in the post-JCPOA period. President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN was a clear indication of this new situation. To mitigate this emerging danger, the policy community must overcome complacency, act with urgency, offer an even-handed and realistic analysis, and propose a fair solution.    

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Iran Digest Week of September 22 - 29

Iran Digest Week of September 22 - 29

U.S. Sees No 'Indication' Iran Launched A Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet

US intelligence radars and sensors "picked up no indication" of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment.
Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: "As far as we can see, it did not happen."
State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television."Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran," Press TV said. (CNN) 

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A History of Franco-Iranian Relations

A History of Franco-Iranian Relations

Marielle Coleman, Research Associate

Iran is one of the world’s oldest nations. Yet when people think about the country, they tend only to think of the Islamic Republic, which represents just a fraction of the country’s history. Put simply, if the complete history of Iran was represented as a calendar year, its time as the Islamic Republic would be a little more than two and a half days. The truth is that Persia, Iran’s pre-1932’s name in the West, has a vast and rich culture, one that extends far beyond the image of Iran familiar to the Westerners today. Its history was shaped not just by forces within, but also from its interactions with other countries, including France, the focus of this paper.

Relations between Persia and France were established in the 13th century after France became an important power in the region. Since then, the two countries have maintained and fostered connections nearly as often as they have disagreed and disrupted their bonds.  This paper will provide a summary and analysis of the variable nature of their relations since the Crusades.

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Iran Must Negotiate with Trump Differently

Iran Must Negotiate with Trump Differently

Hooshang Amirahmadi, PhD
Professor, Rutgers University

The Trump administration wants to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 group of countries (the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China), commonly called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Some say this demand suggests that Iran has had a winning negotiation and Trump does not like it to win. Others argue that Trump is motivated by scrapping any deal that has the signature of former President Barack Obama on it. Trump himself has said the deal is “bad,” but has never explained why.

In this article, I will argue that Trump’s opposition to the nuclear deal is neither because he sees Iran as a winner, nor because he dislikes an Obama legacy. Instead, Trump and his associates believe that, given how desperately and carelessly Iran negotiated the nuclear deal under the duress of sanctions and threats, they can make Iran lose even more in renegotiating the JCPOA and other matters of concern to the US. Iran, which initially celebrated the conclusion of the deal, now finds itself trapped by it without adequately realizing the much-anticipated sanctions relief or foreign investment.

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Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Voice to America

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Voice to America

Dr. Amirahmadi recently spoke with Voice to America about President Trump's speech to the UN. The audio and a summary are below.  

What was the response by Iran to Trump’s speech?

There were reactions right after his speech by President Rouhani, who spoke at the same podium at the UN, and then a few days later by the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei.  Both of them obviously rejected Mr. Trump’s claim and said that those words were humiliating, insulting and “ignorant.”  They were particularly reacting to President Trump’s statement regarding not just the nuclear issue, but Iran’s human rights situation, whereby President Trump basically said to the Iranian people that their government is a bad government that abuses human rights, misuses resources and spends their money in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere; saying that with this government they will not have a good economy or even a future…  In a way the talk was really a regime change talk.  Although he never used the words regime change, but it was obvious he was trying to entice the people against the regime.

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Iran Digest Week of September 15 - 22

Iran Digest Week of September 15 - 22

Iran's Rouhani Pushes Back On Trump

Iran's president said it would be a "great pity" if "rogue newcomers" destroy the international nuclear deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
"It will be a great pity if this agreement were destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," he added in a clear reference to US President Donald Trump, who addressed the General Assembly the day before and offered scathing criticism of both Iran and the 2015 international agreement.
"I declare to you the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party," Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations Wednesday. (CNN)
 

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AIC Statement on the Trump Administrations New Travel Ban

AIC Statement on the Trump Administrations New Travel Ban

The American Iranian Council strongly rejects the Trump administration’s new executive order banning nearly all immigration to the United States from Iran and six other countries.  Under President Trump’s latest order, the ban on immigration from Iran will be indefinite with exceptions only for students, exchange scholars, and individuals with existing valid visas. Even individuals who have “bona fide connections” to the United States, including close family members of US citizens, will no longer be able to enter the country. The American Iranian Council believes that such a blanket ban on the immigration of Iranians will be neither effective in reducing the risk of terrorism against the United States, nor successful in promoting American interests.

First, this ban, like its prior version, does not target countries with citizens who have a history of terrorist attacks on the United States (e.g., the terrorists of September 11).  Moreover, Iran’s continued inclusion in the ban strains credulity as not a single Iranian has ever committed an act of terror against Americans on the US homeland. 

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Iran Chat: Interview with Celebrity Chef Ariana Bundy

Iran Chat: Interview with Celebrity Chef Ariana Bundy

Our latest Iran Chat is with Iranian-American celebrity chef Ariana Bundy.  Ariana is the award-winning author of two cookbooks, Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes and Sweet Alternative: More than 100 recipes without gluten, dairy and soy.  She is also the writer, director and star of the 8-part television series Ariana's Persian Kitchen, which airs on NatGeo People. Ariana's work has been featured in a variety of magazines like Food & Travel, Harper's Bazaar and Food & Wine Magazine; she has also appeared on television programs like BBC's Good Food Live, Euronews and Top Billing.  For more information about Ariana Bundy or to get some delicious recipe ideas, you can visit her website arianabundy.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.   

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Iran Digest Week of September 8 - 15

Iran Digest Week of September 8 - 15

Iran Nuclear Deal Critics Push Plan For ‘Global Economic Embargo’

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are pushing a proposal that calls for President Donald Trump to declare that Tehran has failed to comply with the agreement and to threaten an unprecedented economic embargo designed to rattle the regime.
The document, which has been circulating on Capitol Hill and in the White House, says the president should declare to Congress next month that the deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States. Then the president would make clear his readiness to hit Iran with a “de-facto global economic embargo” if it failed to meet certain conditions over a 90-day period, including opening military sites to international inspectors.
“This would be a 21st century financial version of [John F.] Kennedy’s Cuba quarantine,” according to a copy of the proposal obtained by Foreign Policy. The embargo would involve reimposing sanctions lifted under the deal, as well as additional measures including restrictions on oil exports. (Foreign Policy)

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Iran Digest Week of September 1-8

Iran Digest Week of September 1-8

How The Travel Ban Left A Family Of Iranian Refugees Stranded In Turkey

Seid Moradi never wanted to leave Iran. But under threats to his life because of his non-Muslim faith, he saw no choice. Savings in hand, he fled his hometown near the Iraqi border with his family, boarding a bus for the more than 20-hour ride across the country’s northwestern border with hopes of starting anew. And for a while, that dream didn’t seem out of reach.
In the central Turkish city of Kayseri, the family — father, wife, sister-in-law and three kids — worked delivering groceries and sewing clothes to cobble together rent while undergoing interviews to become refugees.
But three years later, hope is slipping away. When news arrived this year that the U.S. government would resettle them in Seattle, they moved out of their apartment in June, and sold all but what would fit into seven roller bags days before their scheduled flight. (The Los Angeles Times)

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Iran Digest Week of August 25 - September 1

Iran Digest Week of August 25 - September 1

Iran Upholds Convictions of Iranian-American Father and Son

An Iranian appeals court has upheld the convictions of a prominent Iranian-American father and son accused of collaborating with the United States, their lawyer said Monday, posing a new source of tension in the increasing hostility between the countries.
Iran’s incarceration of the defendants, Baquer Namazi and his son, Siamak, who were convicted last year and sentenced to 10-year terms, has been repeatedly cited by President Trump in his denunciations of the Iranian authorities.
News that their appeal had been rejected came amid numerous signs of the downward spiral in the relations between Iran and the United States. The most notable is the Trump administration’s assertions that Iran is violating the 2015 nuclear agreement reached under President Barack Obama. The administration also has infuriated Iran by imposing new sanctions on the country in recent weeks. (NYTimes)

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Iran Digest Week of August 18 - 25

Iran Digest Week of August 18 - 25

Former deputy CIA director says Trump process is 'very disconcerting' on Iran nuke deal

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been red hot in recent weeks -- and they might be about to get even hotter.
Amid warning shots fired by US ships against Iranian ones, as well as very close calls when Iranian drones have buzzed the US military, President Trump will be called upon to certify that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.
His administration has declared Iran in compliance, as required by law, twice during his tenure so far. But Trump has said he expects the US to declare Iran non-compliant when the next review is due in September. (CNN)

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Iran Digest Week of August 4 - 11

Iran Digest Week of August 4 - 11

Iranian drone forces US jet to take evasive action

An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a US Navy F/A-18 attempting to land on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, according to two US defense officials with knowledge of the incident. The officials said the drone forced the US aircraft to take evasive action.
The "QOM-1" drone came within 100 feet below the aircraft and 200 feet to the side of the aircraft. The F/A-18 was in a landing pattern several thousand feet off the deck of the ship waiting to land.
The F/A-18 maneuvered repeatedly to avoid the drone officials said and it did not appear to be armed.The officials said the drone encounter was considered "unsafe and unprofessional." The US used an emergency radio frequency in the immediate area to warn those operating the drone to back away. It did eventually move off. (CNN)

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Iran, US ties: Trump is both a threat and an opportunity

Iran, US ties: Trump is both a threat and an opportunity

Originally posted on Trend News Agency

Tehran apparently refuses to view US President Donald Trump as an opportunity and Iranian parliament’s recent motion in response to the new US sanctions would yield no positive results, a US-based expert told Trend.

Iran's lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a motion on Sunday in response to recent US sanctions, voting to boost spending on Tehran's missile program and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' defense mechanism, local media outlets reported.

"If I was Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, I would have not accused President Trump of planning to kill the JCPOA. Such accusations are simply not helpful and are indeed counterproductive. Instead, I would have sent a message, even indirectly, to President Trump urging him to stay with the deal and offer to hear his concerns. Tehran must understand that Trump is both a threat and an opportunity. To view him as a threat only could lead to a disastrous situation between the two nations," President American Iranian Council Hooshang Amirahmadi said.

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Iran Digest Week of July 28 - August 4

Iran Digest Week of July 28 - August 4

Now U.S. Has Company In Raising Pressure On Iran Over Missile

Joined by three Western allies, the United States on Wednesday escalated pressure on Iran over its space launch last week, saying the act disregarded a United Nations Security Council resolution on the use of missiles and was “threatening and provocative.
In a letter to the Security Council and Secretary General António Guterres, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States and envoys from Britain, France, and Germany said the Iranian missile that carried a satellite into orbit was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.”
Under the Security Council resolution, 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Iran is called upon “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” (The New York Times)

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US sanctions on Iran bad news for everyone: AIC president

US sanctions on Iran bad news for everyone: AIC president

Originally published on Trend News Agency

The new US sanctions on Iran is a bad news for everyone, including the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), Iran, the EU and others not involved in the nuclear deal, Hooshang Amirahmadi, president of the American Iranian Council (AIC), told Trend.

The US House of Representatives and Senate voted overwhelmingly last week to slap new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea, but the bill, in order to become a law, needs to be signed by President Donald Trump.

Amirahmadi said that the new sanctions will loosen commitments to the deal, prevent Iran from fully benefiting from the JCPOA, and increase tension between the US and some of Iran’s major trading partners.

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