Iran Digest Week of January 6 - January 13

Iran Digest Week of January 6 - January 13

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Boats

A US Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats on Sunday near the Strait of Hormuz, US Defense officials said Monday.
Five Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan and two other US ships that were entering the strait, according to accounts from four sources. The Strait of Hormuz is situated between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
The Mahan, a destroyer, fired warning shots and used radio calls, flares, bells and whistles to signal to the ships to stay away. (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 30 - January 6

Iran Digest  Week of December 30 - January 6

New Prospects for US-Iran Relations Under Trump

While campaigning for office, Trump repeatedly maligned the Iran nuclear deal as one of the worst in American history, and variously promised to tear it up immediately after occupying the White House.           
Since the election, Trump has shifted his public commentary on the subject to emphasize renegotiation, but some media analysis has pointed out how this could effectively undermine the agreement and compel the Iranians to walk away from it. (Iran News Update)

Read More

AIC Statement on the Death of President Rafsanjani

AIC Statement on the Death of President Rafsanjani

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric who served as president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died on January 8, 2017, at age 82, in a hospital in northern Tehran after suffering a heart attack.  A US State Department official described Rafsanjani as a "prominent figure" and said in a statement, "We send our condolences to his family and loved ones."
 
Rafsanjani was a towering figure in Iranian post-revolutionary politics. In addition to serving as the Islamic Republic’s president, he was a former speaker of the Parliament, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, chairman of the Expediency Council, and head of Iran’s military forces during the Iran-Iraq war.

Read More

Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News picked up our Director, Stephanie Lester's article in the Huffington Post last week, Debunking the Many Myths Americans Believe About Iran.  

Both the original Persian and English translation of the Fars News article are below.  For Ms. Lester's commentary in her original text/wording, please see the Huffington Post article.

افسانه‌های آمریکا درباره ایران نادرست است/ ایران نه تنها عقب مانده نیست بلکه کشوری دوست‌داشتنی است

به گزارش گروه بین‌الملل خبرگزاری فارس، خانم «استفنی لستر» مدیر شورای ایرانیان آمریکا در گزارشی  ضمن اشاره به سفر امن خود به ایران عنوان داشت: آمریکایی‌ها تمایل دارند ایران را به عنوان کشوری عقب مانده، فرو رفته در افراط‌گرایی و مخالف مدرنیته معرفی نمایند.

وی در ادامه با معرفی خود به عنوان زنی آمریکایی _یهودی که اخیرا به ایران سفر کرده و به تنهایی ده روز را آنجا سپری نموده، به یافته‌های خود که خلاف ادعاهای ضد ایرانی است اشاره کرده و نوشت: ایران کشور امن، زیبا با مردمانی مهمان نواز به ویژه با گردشگران آمریکایی است.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 23 - 30

Iran Digest Week of December 23 - 30

Inside the 37- Year Standoff Over Iran's Frozen U.S. Dollars

When the shah of Iran fell in 1979, the U.S. froze at least $400 million of Iranian money sitting in a Pentagon trust fund. The Islamic Republic of Iran never stopped trying to get it back.

Tehran unsuccessfully sought the money from Jimmy Carter in return for 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days. It asked the Reagan administration for the same money during dealings that led to the Iran-Contra scandal. The issue came up yet again during negotiations with George H.W. Bush’s White House.

No administration agreed to surrender all the money, until Jan.17, shortly after four American citizens were released from Iranian jailsin a prisoner exchange. That is when an Iranian government Boeing737 lifted off from Geneva’s Cointrin airport carrying $400 million—stacks of Swiss francs delivered on wooden pallets earlier that day by the U.S. government. (The Wall Street Journal)

Read More

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston spoke with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal. The article was originally published in Mehr News.

The interview in its original English, as well as the Persian translation, are below.  

Q:  During the presidential campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump claimed that President Obama gave too many points to Iran in the nuclear deal and said he would re-negotiate the deal.   What will Trump actually do?

A:  I don’t believe that Trump would actually renounce the agreement.  He may try to put on some additional sanctions (not under JCPOA but under other provisions), but I don’t believe he will renounce the agreement.

Read More

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

AIC's President, Dr. Amirahmadi, speaks about sanctions with TRTWorld.  

He explains that, "From the American side, almost ninety five percent of the American sanctions on Iran are still in place.  Americans only lifted sanctions related to nuclear programs on Iran.  So if you are a US entity, sanctions almost completely remain, except for certain areas where there are humanitarian issues, or if you are under license from the treasury department.  So, unfortunately from the US side, sanction relief remains very illusory, very little has happened."

Read More

2017 New Year Greeting

2017 New Year Greeting

Let us begin by sending you a warm New Year greetings from everyone at the American Iranian Council.  As we predicted back in April in a statement entitled “Staying Ahead of the Curve," and given the expected composition of President-Elect Trump’s upcoming cabinet, US-Iran relations could deteriorate in the months ahead despite the fact that Iran has implemented its commitments in the JCPOA (the nuclear deal).  Even more daunting are the challenges that come with a new US Administration, the upcoming Presidential elections in Iran, and a Middle East in serious disarray.

However, and notwithstanding this concern for a possible decay in US-Iran relations, we strongly believe that, with your support, we can make 2017 a year of substantive achievements.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 16 - 23

Iran Digest Week of December 16 - 23

Will Trump strengthen Iran's Hand?

President-elect Donald Trump's priorities in foreign policy have yet to be spelled out in any detail. Certainly trade matters to him, and so does going after ISIS; the events in Ankara and Berlin are sure to deepen that impulse. In that connection, he has said more than once that the Russians and the Syrians are fighting the Islamic State, and that we should take advantage of their doing so.

This is a far dicier proposition than it may appear on its face — particularly inasmuch as it may strengthen the hand of Iran throughout the Middle East. (US News)

Read More

The United States Can’t Have Its JCPOA and Eat It Too

The United States Can’t Have Its JCPOA and Eat It Too

Originally posted on The LobeLog
By Shireen T. Hunter, former AIC Board Member

Last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), has many detractors in the United States and elsewhere, including U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. They have always maintained that the deal benefits Iran more than the United States and its allies. Many of these detractors have thus argued that the JCPOA should be renegotiated or simply cancelled.

Now, however, many of them are singing a different tune. Following the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the possibility of a U.S. withdrawal or violation of the agreement has become real. Suddenly, many of the agreement’s earlier detractors have become its fans. They are finally admitting that the United States and other countries, which want to forestall the possibility that Iran might build nuclear weapons, actually got a good deal. Despite claims by the Iranian government that it could easily turn the nuclear switch back on, it would be hard for Iran to resume its activities without facing intensified economic sanctions, by the United States and many other countries, not to mention the serious risk of a military confrontation or even open conflict with the U.S. Perhaps because of this fact, after a meeting in Tehran with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukio Amano, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Iran will not be the first to leave JCPOA.

Read More

AIC's Stephanie Lester on the Huffington Post: Debunking Myths About Iran

AIC's Stephanie Lester on the Huffington Post: Debunking Myths About Iran

By Stephanie Lester, Director of Operations
Originally published on the Huffington Post

With the election of Donald J. Trump, now more than ever, it is important to separate truth from fiction, facts from opinion, and to question prejudices and misconceptions.  This directive applies in all areas of life, but perhaps no place on earth is more misunderstood, and worth a re-examination, than the country of Iran; particularly as U.S.-Iran relations enter a new phase of uncertainty.

On the whole, Americans tend to view Iran as a backward country, mired in extremism and averse to modernity. Anyone who travels there is considered crazy – or even suspicious.

I should know. I am a Jewish-American woman who recently traveled to Iran alone for 10 days with the express goal of proving that - contrary to expectation - the country is safe, beautiful, and welcoming to Americans.  Before my travel, I had to explain to friends and family that there are no roaming hordes of ISIS militants in Iran; upon my return, I had to convince members of U.S. Homeland Security that I was not a terrorist sympathizer during nearly two hours of detention and questioning. 

Read More

AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks to BBC about Iran Nuclear-Fueled Vessels

AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks to BBC about Iran Nuclear-Fueled Vessels

AIC Policy Advisor Emad Kiyaei told BBC, “The announcement by President Rouhani that Iran aims to develop nuclear-powered vessels does not violate the letter of the nuclear,” adding “however, this action goes against the spirit of the deal and could lead to proactive coercive action by the United States through further sanctions, particularly with a Republican-led Congress and White House.”

Listen to the full interview here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zMc3RnYe5k&feature=youtu.be

Read More

One Free Month of Premium Access to Persian Films

One Free Month of Premium Access to Persian Films

As part of AIC's goal to help remedy misconceptions about Iran and separate truth from fiction, we are pleased to announce an educational partnership with IMVBox.com in their work relating to Iranian cinema and theatre.  

As part of this partnership, we are able to offer our members one free month of unlimited access to IMVBox.com.  Just click here and use promo code R51E.

With over one thousand streaming films, IMVBox.com is the largest "online cinematheque," and the only legal platform for digital content from Iran.  They showcase a large selection of recent award-winning Persian-language visual material, including features, documentaries, shorts and plays. 

AIC applauds IMVBox's mission to "paint a true picture" of Iran, and shares in the hope that film can "unlock the spellbinding, often misunderstood, complexities of Iran's proud culture and raise awareness about realities of life in the Middle East."

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 9 - 16

Iran Digest Week of December 9 - 16

Iran sanctions renewal becomes law without Obama signature

In an unexpected reversal, President Barack Obama declined to sign a renewal of sanctions against Iran but let it become law anyway, in an apparent bid to alleviate Tehran's concerns that the U.S. is backsliding on the nuclear deal. 

Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature.

"The administration has, and continues to use, all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions" lifted as part of the nuclear deal, Earnest said in a statement. (CNBC)

Read More

OFAC 101

OFAC 101

By Kriyana Reddy, Research Associate

In July 2015, the United States partnered with other members of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) along with the European Union and Iran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).[1] The plan was officially implemented in January 2016, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury issued numerous accompanying documents as guidelines on the JCPOA. 

Both due to - and also despite - this abundance of language, there is often confusion surrounding what is and is not permitted in U.S.-Iran business operations under the new agreement. Hence, this article seeks to clarify some of these guidelines.  Imagine this as “OFAC 101.”

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 2 - 9

Iran Digest Week of December 2 - 9

The fear that's keeping Iranian Americans from visiting their homeland

Sitting inside his empty travel agency in Los Angeles, Farhad Besharati expressed concern about the decline of his business.

The majority of his customers are older Persians who come to him when they want to purchase airline tickets to Iran. But lately, he said, some are canceling their flights, and fewer people are arranging trips.

Besharati blames recent arrests in his homeland of Iranianswho hold dual citizenship, some of whom have received lengthy prison sentences.  (LA Times)

Read More

Trumpism, the Global Economy, and Silicon Valley

Trumpism, the Global Economy, and Silicon Valley

Speech at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
Delivered December 4, 2016

By: AIC's President, Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

Let me begin by noting that I am not using “Trumpism” to mean a coherent ideological system, which it is not. Rather Trumpism is a constellation of often contradictory or inconsistent ideas that together point towards a certain ideological orientation.  I must also note that the arguments presented here are tentative as Trumpism is an evolving “America First” movement with no set direction as yet. This fluidity notwithstanding, I believe it is possible to decipher the key features of President-Elect Donald Trump’s public-policy agendas (domestic and international) for the U.S. political-economy, which will be centered on rejecting globalism for Americanism – “To Make America Great Again.” 

Read More

4 ways Trump can keep relations steady with Iran

4 ways Trump can keep relations steady with Iran

Originally posted on Dallas News
By Honorary Board Member, Thomas R. Pickering

Our new president will face many tough challenges in devising a strategy to assure America's security. He will be the first since 1979 who will not have to immediately devise a strategy to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. 

The nuclear agreement with Iran provides strong assurance that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years. China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. (the so-called P5+1) came together to achieve this objective by negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. Iran without a nuclear weapon is far less threatening to Israel, the region and the U.S.

Read More

Iran Digest: Week of November 25 - December 2

Iran Digest: Week of November 25 - December 2

Mohsen Milani details his Expectations for Future U.S. - Iran Relations in a Trump Administration

Unusual, unpredictable and inescapable in US media coverage, the American presidential election also dominated news outlets across the globe.

For the first time in history, Iran aired U.S. presidential debates, underscoring Iran’s prominence in U.S foreign policy. While contemporary analyses — especially in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s rise — often paint Iran as an enemy, the University of South Florida’s Mohsen Milani is quick to point out Iran’s pre-1979 amity with the United States.

“Prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the U.S. and Iran were the closest of allies. More than 50,000 Americans lived in Iran. More than 65,000 Iranians students were studying in American universities. Then the Islamic Revolution came. The unfortunate hostage crisis took place. The two countries became bitter enemies,” Milani told KGOU’s World Views. (KGOU)

Read More

Iran Digest: Week of November 18 - 25

Iran Digest: Week of November 18 - 25

Trump, Though Critical of Nuclear Deal, Could Offer Opportunities for Iran

At first blush, the election of Donald J. Trump would seem to be bad news for Iran. But there is a chance that on balance, things could work out surprisingly well for the clerics.

Publicly, Iran’s leaders stress that they pay little heed to what happens in the United States, that they pride themselves on their independence.

 “It makes no difference for Iran who the next U.S. president is,” the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a speech last week. (New York Times)

Read More