Iran Chat: Interview with Jim Lobe about the Likelihood of War with Iran

Iran Chat: Interview with Jim Lobe about the Likelihood of War with Iran

After a long break, Iran Chat is back and we felt this year’s series should begin with a deep dive into the current state of US-Iran relations, focusing on the very real and growing possibility of war with Iran. 
 
To help sort through all the recent news and issues concerning US-Iran relations, we spoke with journalist Jim Lobe.  He served as chief of the Washington DC bureau of Inter Press Service from 1980 to 1985 and again from 1989 to 2016.  Currently he is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs LobeLog, an award-winning web blog focused on foreign policy, featuring posts by expert contributors on a variety of global issues, with an emphasis on US policy towards the Middle East. 
 
Recently, he co-wrote an article for Lobelog entitled War Against Iran Becoming Ever More Likely.  We discuss his rationale for this assessment during our conversation.  

Listen here or on iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/americaniranians-podcast/id1152417924

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AIC Honorary Board Member in Daily News: "Correcting course on Iran"

AIC Honorary Board Member in Daily News:  "Correcting course on Iran"

Last week, Germany, France and Britain launched their own payment channel to help European companies bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. The channel, known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), is meant to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran and persuade the country to continue fulfilling its commitments to the nuclear deal. Our own intelligence agencies have once again confirmed Tehran’s full compliance with the agreement.

President Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran several months later, opening up a range of negative consequences for U.S. national interests. These consequences are now coming into clear view, shaping a future that carries serious national security implications.

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Iran Digest Week of January 25th-February 1st

Iran Digest Week of January 25th-February 1st

European countries set up trade channel with Iran to bypass US sanctions

Germany, France and Britain have joined forces to establish their own trade channel to Iran and circumvent United States sanctions, according to a joint statement made by the so-called E3 on Thursday.

The three signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have been working for months to establish a measure allowing payments between Europe and Iran to continue, in the wake of the US withdrawal from the agreement in May.

Now the European countries have officially established that channel, in a move likely to displease Washington. (CNN)

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Iran Digest Week of January 18th-25th

Iran Digest Week of January 18th-25th

Germany bans Iranian airline from its airspace after U.S. pressure

Germany has revoked the license of an Iranian airline because it has been transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other Middle East war zones, the foreign ministry said on Monday, after heavy U.S. pressure on Berlin to act.

The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and has been pressing its European allies to follow suit.

The German ban on the airline takes immediate effect, a foreign ministry spokesman said. (Reuters)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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 <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/08/iran-deal-trump-withdraw-us-latest-news-nuclear-agreement> of the UN security council-endorsed nuclear deal in May, the Trump administration is now unilaterally combating <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/05/iran-launches-military-drill-response-return-us-sanctions> 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<https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/8/6/behave-like-a-normal-country-pompeo-tells-iran>” is unintentionally ironic.

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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