Iran Digest Week of January 4-January 11

Iran Digest Week of January 4-January 11

US-Iran Relations

Iranian Leader Vows To Launch Satellites, Defying U.S. Warnings

Iran soon will put two satellites into orbit using domestically made rockets, President Hassan Rohani has said, despite U.S. concerns that the launches could help further develop the country's ballistic missiles.

"Soon, in the coming weeks, we will send two satellites into space using our domestically-made rockets," Rohani said on January 10 during a commemoration for the late President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranian state television reported. (RFE/RL)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 21-28

Iran Digest Week of December 21-28

U.S. warns Iran not to launch satellites into space

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on Thursday to scuttle its plans to launch satellites into space that the United States said could be used to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

Pompeo stopped short of saying how the United States might react if Iran goes ahead with its announced intention to test three Space Launch Vehicles (SLVs), but his warning suggested that the move could lead to new sanctions. (Washington Post)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 21-28

Iran Digest Week of December 21-28

US Aircraft Carrier Enters Persian Gulf After Long Absence

A U.S. aircraft carrier sailed into the Persian Gulf on Friday, becoming the first since America's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May and breaking the longest carrier absence in the volatile region since at least the September 11 terror attacks.

The arrival of the USS John C. Stennis comes as Iranian officials have returned to repeatedly threatening to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes. Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels shadowed the Stennis and its strike group, at one point launching rockets away from it and flying a drone nearby. (VOA)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 14 - 21

Iran Digest Week of December 14 - 21

Global Traders Halt New Iran Food Deals as US Sanctions Bite

Cargill, Bunge and other global traders have halted food supply deals with Iran because new U.S. sanctions have paralyzed banking systems required to secure payments, industry and Iranian government sources say.

Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington reimposed this year after U.S. President Donald Trump said in May he was walking away from a 2015 international deal over Iran's nuclear program.

But the U.S. measures targeting everything from oil sales to shipping and financial activities have deterred many foreign banks from all Iranian business, including humanitarian deals. Many smaller banks that had dealt with Iran under a previous round of sanctions have also stopped dealings this time. (VOA)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of December 7 - 14

Iran Digest Week of December 7 - 14

Pompeo urges UN to ban Iranian missile tests

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to prohibit Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests, warning member nations that a failure to hold Tehran accountable could yield dramatic consequences.

But while allies echoed some of Pompeo's concerns, the divide between the US and nations remaining in the Iran nuclear deal was abundantly clear yet again.

Pompeo again claimed that Tehran has increased its ballistic missile activity since the Iran nuclear deal took effect in 2016 and defended the Trump administration's decision earlier this year to withdraw from the agreement. (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 23 - 30

Iran Digest Week of November 23 - 30

U.S. issues fewer student visas to Iranians despite exemption

With offers from four American universities, Mani Rezaei Rad gave up his well-paid job with a Siemens affiliate company in Tehran last year and proposed to his girlfriend so they could be together while he studied in the United States.

Getting a U.S. student visa normally takes a few months, but 16 months later, he was still waiting. The uncertainty and lack of work took its toll on the relationship and the couple split.

“I was sliding into depression. I felt hollow and useless,” said Rezaei Rad, who had won places to study for a post-graduate degree in electrical engineering. Eventually he gave up his American dream and got a place at a European university instead. (Reuters)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 16 - 23

Iran Digest Week of November 16 - 23

Iran: US must lift sanctions on food, medicine as per ICJ ruling

Iran says the US must lift its cruel sanctions on exports of humanitarian goods, including food and medicine, to Iran based on an October ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ruling requires Washington to allow supply of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural goods and airplane parts, which directly deal with human lives, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said Thursday.

“With the bullying policies it pursues across the world, the US wants to ignore all international bodies, and does not pay any heed to them,” Qassemi told state broadcaster IRIB. (PressTV)

Read More

Trump’s economic war on Iran is doomed to failure

Trump’s economic war on Iran is doomed to failure

Originally published in The Guardian.

By AIC Board Member Sir Richard Dalton

The US has declared economic war on Iran: after having pulled out <> of the UN security council-endorsed nuclear deal in May, the Trump administration is now unilaterally combating <> the right of the rest of the world to engage in legal trade with the Islamic Republic.

This policy is based on the claim that Iran is a major security threat to the American people. But that is transparently exaggerated. And the statement by Mike Pompeo that sanctions will be used to ensure Iran “behaves like a normal country<>” is unintentionally ironic.

Read More

AIC Honorary Board Member to the National Interest: "Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies"

AIC Honorary Board Member to the National Interest: "Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies"

Originally published in the National Interest

by James Clapper & AIC Honorary Board Member Thomas Pickering

“Then there were none” was Agatha Christie’s most memorable mystery about a house party in which each guest was killed off one by one. Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran has resulted in much the same: a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program.

Dozens of states, painstakingly cultivated over decades of American leadership in blocking Iran’s nuclear capability, are now simply gone. One of America’s three remaining allies on these issues, Saudi Arabia, has become a central player in American strategy throughout the Middle East region. But the Saudis, because of the Jamal Khashoggi killing and other reasons, may have cut itself out of the action. The United Arab Emirates, so close to the Saudis, may also fall away.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 2nd - November 9th

Iran Digest Week of November 2nd - November 9th

US unleashes sanctions on Iran, hitting oil, banking and shipping

The US unleashed its "toughest ever" sanctions against Iran on Monday, a move that has already sparked mass protests in the oil-rich nation.

The Trump administration reinstated all sanctions removed under the 2015 nuclear deal, targeting both Iran and states that trade with it.

They will hit oil exports, shipping and banks - all core parts of the economy. (BBC News)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 26th - November 2nd

Iran Digest Week of October 26th - November 2nd

Two Iranian boats approached US ship with top general on board

Two Iranian fast attack boats came within 300 yards of USS Essex in the Persian Gulf Friday while the four star head of the US Central Command was on board, according to two US defense officials.

General Joseph Votel, commanding general of CENTCOM, was observing routine flight operations on board the Essex when the incident happened.

The encounter with the two Iranian boats was ruled to be "safe and professional" by the Navy because the Iranians did not demonstrate hostile intent, the officials said. (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 19th - 26th

Iran Digest Week of October 19th - 26th

Iran accuses U.S. of imposing more sanctions to "deflect" attention from Khashoggi killing

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused the U.S. Treasury of announcing new sanctions on Iran to “deflect” attention from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday targeted Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency with sanctions against eight individuals who were designated global terrorists, including two linked to Iran’s Quds Force, the branch of the elite Revolutionary Guards that oversees operations outside of the Islamic Republic’s borders.

“To deflect from headlines on Saudi brutality in Istanbul and across Yemen, US Treasury — while in Saudi Arabia, no less —sanctions Iran for ‘supporting’ anti-Iran Taliban. Conveniently omitting that US is negotiating with the very same Taliban now & its clients have long backed it,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. (Reuters)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 12th - 19th

  Iran Digest Week of October 12th - 19th

Latest U.S. sanctions show disregard for human rights of all Iranians: foreign minister

The United States’ latest economic sanctions against Iran display a disregard for the human rights of all Iranians, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday sanctioned two Iranian banks and a handful of companies it says are linked to Iran’s Basij militia.

“Latest US sanctions violate 2 ICJ orders: to not impede humanitarian trade & to not aggravate the dispute. Utter disregard for rule of law & human rights of an entire people. US outlaw regime’s hostility toward Iranians heightened by addiction to sanctions,” Zarif said in a Twitter post. (Reuters)

Read More

Letter to Thomson Reuters Board Members and Trustees Re: Persian Gulf

Letter to Thomson Reuters Board Members and Trustees Re: Persian Gulf

RE:  Persian Gulf

Dear Thomson Reuters Board Members and Trustees:

As many of you may be aware, the stylebook and guidelines for Thomson Reuters stipulates that all articles pertaining to the Persian Gulf region be redacted to use the term “Gulf,” regardless of what the original journalist may have written or what the universally accepted name is for this body of water. As this region is often in the news, this is a persistent and readily apparent change that appears before millions of readers worldwide. There are several issues with this style change which the American Iranian Council would like to raise with the leadership of Thomson Reuters and encourage a change in policy.

First, Thomson Reuters has suggested that the term “Gulf” is used due to a naming dispute over the body of water in question. There is in fact no naming dispute at present, nor is it being challenged in any court, at the United Nations or other relevant international bodies. There are, certainly, several Arab governments who seek to abandon the historic term for political gains but it is incorrect for an internationally celebrated organization such as yours to claim that there is an international dispute. Previous disputes raised at the UN, found in favor of using the historic Persian Gulf name exclusively.

Read More

Iran Digest: Week of October 5 - 12

Iran Digest: Week of October 5 - 12

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory today to help financial institutions better detect and report potentially illicit transactions related to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The advisory is also intended to help foreign financial institutions better understand the obligations of their U.S. correspondents, to avoid exposure to U.S. sanctions, and to address the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) risks that Iranian activity poses to the international financial system. The advisory provides information on the threats the Iranian regime poses to the U.S. financial system as well as to institutions that have correspondent banking relationships with U.S. financial institutions, describes deceptive financial strategies that the Iranian regime uses to evade sanctions, and provides red flag indicators related to specific malign activities and typologies. (US Treasury Department)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of September 28 - October 5th

Iran Digest

Week of September 28 - October 5th

AIC’s Iran digest project covers the latest developments and news stories published in Iranian and international media outlets. This weekly digest is compiled by Research Fellow Shiva Darian and Communications Associate Shahab Moghadam. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.

US-Iran Relations

US to end Treaty of Amity with Iran after ICJ ruling


The US will pull out of a decades-old treaty with Iran which was used by Tehran as a basis for a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Iran took the US to court after it re-imposed sanctions on the back of abandoning a nuclear deal in May.

Iran argued that decision violated the terms of the 1955 Treaty of Amity.

But after the ICJ ordered the US to ease sanctions on Wednesday, Mr Pompeo said the treaty would be terminated. (BBC News)

Zarif: Iran can’t ‘start all over again’ with U.S.


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said Iran cannot “start all over again” with the United States to renegotiate a new deal after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

“You remember the movie ‘50 First Dates,’ when you start all over again the following day. We can’t. This is impossible. You need to be able to have a relationship that is based on some foundations. And we have a document (the nuclear deal) that is a hundred and fifty pages long,” Zarif told the New Yorker in an exclusive interview published on Tuesday, comparing diplomacy with the U.S. to the 2004 movie about a man who keeps having first dates with a woman who has short-term memory loss and forgets him the next day. (Tehran Times)

StanChart Said to Brace for New Iran Fine of $1.5 Billion


Standard Chartered Plc is bracing for a potential penalty of around $1.5 billion from U.S. authorities for allowing customers to violate Iran sanctions, people familiar with the matter said.

That amount is a preliminary assessment based on some of the communications between the bank and the regulators, the people said. Final discussions to resolve the matter have not yet begun, they said. The allegations relate to breaches dating from at least five years ago. (Bloomberg)

Nuclear Accord

Iran's Zarif: EU support for deal better than expected


Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has told the BBC that support from Europe to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal in the face of US pressure has been better than expected.

Mr Zarif was speaking to the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in New York after a week in which the EU announced it would set up a special financial mechanism to allow companies to get around the sanctions reinstated by President Donald Trump, who abandoned the nuclear deal earlier this year. (BBC News)

IAEA Says It Won't Take Intelligence at Face Value After Netanyahu's Iran Speech


The U.N. nuclear watchdog's independence is paramount and it does not take intelligence presented to it at face value, it said on Tuesday in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's description of a "secret atomic warehouse" in Iran.

Netanyahu - who vehemently opposes the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers that the International Atomic Energy Agency is policing - made the statement in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week. He urged the IAEA to visit the site in Tehran.

A U.S. State Department official seconded that call, but a U.S. intelligence official called Netanyahu's assertions "somewhat misleading", adding that the facility does not contain anything that would enable Iran to accelerate activities banned under the deal. (The New York Times)


Traders bet on oil at $100 as Iran sanctions loom


Oil traders have piled into wagers that U.S. crude oil could surge to $100 a barrel by next year, a milestone that until recently many considered unthinkable due to record U.S. production growth and relatively flat global demand.

But the imminent return of U.S. sanctions on Iran and bottlenecks keeping U.S. oil from getting to market have fueled a rally that has taken benchmark oil prices to four-year highs.

While big producing nations say supply is ample, hedge funds and speculators are increasingly skeptical of that argument, betting the market could rally further as sanctions on Iran’s crude exports return on Nov. 4. (Reuters)

Regional Politics

Iran Fires a Ballistic Missile at ISIS in Syria, Avenging an Earlier Attack


Iran fired six medium-range ballistic missiles across Iraq and into Syria early Monday at what it said was an Islamic State base, according to Iranian news agencies, its allies and spokesmen for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Revolutionary Guards described the strike as retaliation for an attack in Ahvaz, Iran, on Sept. 22 against a military parade by its soldiers in which at least 25 people were killed, including 12 members of the elite unit plus civilian spectators and at least one young child. (The New York Times)

Iran mocks new nuclear claims by Israel's PM


Iran has ridiculed claims by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it is hiding a warehouse used to store prohibited nuclear technology.

Mr Netanyahu made what he called the revelation at the UN, producing a picture of the alleged secret site.

However, Iran's foreign minister dismissed the claim as an "arts and craft show" designed to conceal Israel's own nuclear programme.

Israel says Iran is seeking atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies. (BBC News)

France points finger at Iran over bomb plot, seizes assets


France said on Tuesday there was no doubt Iran’s intelligence ministry was behind a June plot to attack an exiled opposition group’s rally outside Paris and it seized assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.

The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have far-reaching consequences for Iran as President Hassan Rouhani’s government looks to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran. (Reuters)


Bolton 2.0: Trump's tough guy on Iran picks his battles

By: Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Jonathan Landay

926f7df5-c02f-4627-a6d9-eefa95a68300 (1).jpg

Hanging on a wall in John Bolton’s West Wing office is a memento of his proudest achievement as national security adviser: a framed copy of President Donald Trump’s order to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Right next to it hangs a cartoon mocking the agreement.

Bolton's choice of decor reflects his disdain for the deal secured by President Barack Obama and other world powers in 2015, and his relentless focus on trying to isolate Tehran and cripple its economy by reimposing tight sanctions.

Bolton took over as national security adviser in early April. A month later, Trump abandoned the Iran deal, meeting a promise he had made as a presidential candidate, which other wary West Wing advisers had persuaded him to put off. (Reuters)

Iran Digest Week of September 21 - 28

Iran Digest Week of September 21 - 28

A US intelligence assessment conducted in recent days has concluded that Iranian-backed militias and proxy forces could be planning a strike against US military forces or interests in the Middle East, according to three defense officials.

Officials emphasize their concern centers around the threat from those militias located in Syria and several other locations in the Middle East. They all describe the potential threat as ongoing and worrisome. However, they would not describe the specific intelligence that continues to be gathered.

These militias have increased access to ballistic missile and other advanced weapons inventories as Iran continues to move weaponry into Syria. (CNN)

Read More

AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times & Mehr News

AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times &amp; Mehr News

Q: According to some reports, Trump plans to oust Defense Secretary James Mattis after the congressional election. What are the reasons for this?

A: There are many reports that Mattis has, in effect, not followed the orders of the president.  Whether this is the real reason, or whether there is any animosity between the two is unknowable. The apparent relationship between them is friendly, but by most indications Mattis will be gone by the second term. 

Q: Why would Trump postpone this decision until after congressional elections? And how important are these elections for him?

A: Mattis is very well regarded by both democrats and republicans, so to fire him would be an unpopular thing and would probably be harmful to republicans in the midterm elections.  So, they would want to wait until after it, if he is to be fired.  

The congressional elections are very important for Trump because if the democrats take over then they have the power of investigation and the power of subpoena, and so, as frequently happens in American politics the party out of power may have the House, and therefore the ability to make life miserable for the president. 

Read More

Iran Digest Week of September 14 - 21

Iran Digest Week of September 14&nbsp;- 21

Iran dismisses U.S. offer of talks, says Washington broke last deal

Iran hit back at a U.S. offer of negotiations on Thursday, saying Washington had violated the terms of the last big deal they agreed, the 2015 nuclear accord.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of that nuclear accord - which curbed Iran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief - in May, saying it did not go far enough.

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on Wednesday that Washington now wanted to negotiate a treaty that included Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its regional behavior. (Reuters)

Read More