Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 19

Iran Digest Week of May 12 - 19

Iran Denounces New U.S. Sanctions, Adds Some of Its Own

Iran struck back against new Trump administration sanctions against its ballistic missile program, calling them illegal and announcing sanctions of its own.
In a tit-for-tat move, Iran sanctioned seven entities and two individuals on Thursday, including Horacio Rozanski, chief executive officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., alleging human rights violations because the management consulting firm does work in Israel, a U.S. ally that Iran calls an oppressor of Palestinians. Kimberly West, a spokeswoman for Booz Allen, said the company had no comment.
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would continue waiving sanctions -- including restrictions on oil sales -- eased under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. (Bloomberg Politics)

Read More

AIC Congratulates President Rouhani on Winning Re-Election

AIC Congratulates President Rouhani on Winning Re-Election

Dr. Rouhani has won a second term in the 2017 Presidential Election in Iran. Nearly 70% of Iranian voters turned out on May 19 to cast their ballots for the next President. Vote tallies placed incumbent President Hassan Rouhani as the winner with 23 million votes, overshadowing the runner-up, Mr. Ebrahim Raisi who received 15.7 million. With the support of 57% of voters, President Rouhani will have a strong mandate to continue his moderate policies and outreach to the West.

The American Iranian Council congratulates President Rouhani on his victory, wishes him luck in his second term, and hopes that he will be able to effectively lead the country towards prosperity in this turbulent time. President Rouhani must now move beyond the competition and become the President for all Iranians, defending their rights and solving their problems. We also urge his competitors in this election to accept the result and cooperate with President Rouhani towards a better Iran.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of May 5 - 12

Iran Digest Week of May 5 - 12

Latest: U.S. Sees Iran Working to Preserve Nuclear Deal
The latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on global threats: The Trump administration's national intelligence director says the U.S. sees Iran working to maintain last year's nuclear agreement. Tehran's rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from U.S. sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities.
Dan Coats tells the Senate intelligence committee that the deal extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon.
He cites the Obama administration's estimates that the timeline has been delayed from a few months to about a year. Coats also says the deal has enhanced transparency of Iran's nuclear activities. (U.S. News)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 5

Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 5

Iran and U.S. Discuss Issue of Americans Imprisoned by Tehran

Iran said Monday that it had discussed the issue of Americans with dual citizenship held in Iranian prisons during a meeting last week with the United States.
The discussion, during a meeting in Vienna on compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, was the first face-to-face exchange between emissaries from Iran and the United States since President Trump took office.
A State Department spokesman, Mark C. Toner, had suggested on April 25 that the imprisonments would be raised at the meeting, which was held while both sides were attending a session of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nonproliferation monitor. (The New York Times)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 21 - 28

Iran Digest Week of April 21 - 28

U.S. Destroyer Forced to Alter Course by Iranian Vessel Acting "Provocative"

An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship acted "unprofessional but also provocative" while approaching the USS Mahan, an American destroyer in the Persian Gulf on Monday, according to a US official.
The official said the Iranian vessel had its weapons manned and came within approximately 1,000 yards of the US destroyer.
The Mahan attempted bridge-to-bridge communication with the Iranians but got no response. The US destroyer then fired a flare but despite the obvious signs from the Mahan, the Iranian ship continued on its course, forcing the US ship to alter direction, the official said. (CNN)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 14 - 21

Iran Digest Week of April 14 - 21

U.S. Accuses Iran of 'Alarming Provacations'

The US secretary of state has accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining America's interests.
"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Rex Tillerson said.
The US has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal, although it admits Iran is complying with its commitments.Iran's foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson's criticism as "worn out". (BBC)

Read More

Iran Chat: Interview with David Collier, Author of "Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran, 1941-1979"

Iran Chat: Interview with David Collier, Author of "Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran, 1941-1979"

Our latest Iran Chat is with Dr. David Collier, author of the new book, Democracy and the Nature of American Influence in Iran 1941-1979.  Dr. Collier is also a research consultant in Washington DC and teaches democracy and democratization in Boston University's Washington DC program.

The first half of our conversation focuses on Dr. Collier's usage of linkage and leverage to analyze and better understand the history of the period; the second half addresses how his analysis of the history applies to current issues in US-Iran relations and US foreign policy more generally.  Dr. Collier's book is being published this month; you can purchase a copy on Amazon or Syracuse University Press.

Read More

AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks with Reason.com about Iran's compliance with the JCPOA

AIC's Emad Kiyaei speaks with Reason.com about Iran's compliance with the JCPOA

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran was complying with Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, before a statutory midnight deadline, while also insisting Iran remained "a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods" and indicating that the Trump administration would evaluate the JCPOA-related suspension of sanctions and whether it was "vital to the national security interests of the United States."

"President Trump… has realized that tearing up a highly complex and multinational agreement is not a wise thing to do at this time," Farideh Farhi, an independent scholar and affiliate graduate faculty member at University of Hawaii-Manoa, told Reason.

"Note that under the Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the president has to provide certification every 90 days. Had the Trump administration not done so, it would have triggered legislative procedures and potential reimpositions of sanctions, which would then declare the U.S. intent to renege on its JCPOA obligations," she added.

Read More

Iran Digest Week of April 7 - 14

Iran Digest Week of April 7 - 14

Iran Joins Russia in Denouncing U.S. Strike on Syria, but Stops There

The punitive American missile strike on Syria for the chemical weapons attack a week ago brought Syria’s most important backers, Russia and Iran, publicly closer together — whether the Iranians want to be or not.
Far from accepting the Trump administration’s version of the chemical weapons assault, the Iranians joined the Russians in rejecting it and doubling down on their expressions of support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Nonetheless, Iran and Russia do not see eye to eye on everything in a relationship shaped by mistrust, a legacy of Iranian resentment of Russia’s historical expansionism and Soviet-era attempts at domination. (NY Times)

Read More

The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

By Michael Schwartz, Kriyana Reddy, and Dr. Reza Ghorashi

Over one year has passed since the formal implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the US and P5+1 members (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK), which lifted certain “nuclear-related secondary sanctions,” on various Iranian business sectors.[1] All parties to the JCPOA agreed to implementing it “in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere” and to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to ... affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.”[2]  While initially the JCPOA was met with optimism, critics in both Tehran and Washington have challenged the effectiveness and potential benefits of the agreement.  Iranian public opinion remains steadfastly in support of the deal, but the reality of Iran’s long transition from economic isolation has curbed some enthusiasm.  While the JCPOA has created significant opportunities for economic growth and normalization, the Iranian public has not yet seen many tangible economic benefits.

Read More

Iran election: Ahmadinejad registers despite Khamenei warning

Iran election: Ahmadinejad registers despite Khamenei warning

Originally posted on BBC 

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered as a candidate in Iran's presidential election, despite being told not to by the Supreme Leader.
Mr Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who served two terms between 2005 and 2013, filed paperwork for the 19 May poll at the interior ministry in Tehran.
Last year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned him that such a move was "not in his interest and that of the country".
But Mr Ahmadinejad told reporters on Tuesday that had been "just advice".
Associated Press journalists who witnessed Mr Ahmadinejad register on Tuesday said election officials were "stunned" when he submitted the paperwork.

Read More

Ex-Iranian President Ahmadinejad submits his name for presidential election

Ex-Iranian President Ahmadinejad submits his name for presidential election

Originally posted on Reuters
By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name on Wednesday for registration as a candidate in Iran's presidential election in May, state media reported.
Although the move by the former hardline president was seen as an attempt to bolster the candidacy of an ally, it was also a challenge to the authority of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had ordered him not to run.
Registration for the May 19 election started on Monday and will last five days, after which entrants will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by a vetting body, the Guardian Council.
President

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 31- April 7​​​​​​​

Iran Digest Week of March 31- April 7​​​​​​​

New U.S. Sanctions Bill Delayed by Concern Over Iran Election  

A bill to slap new sanctions on Iran has been delayed in the U.S. Senate due to concerns about Iran's May presidential election, in which conservative hardliners hope to defeat moderate President Hassan Rouhani, U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday.
A group of Democratic and Republican senators introduced the bill in March seeking to impose tighter U.S. sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by Republican President Donald Trump.
But on Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said the bill would not move forward for now. (Reuters)

Read More

How Will Iran Respond to US Missile Attack in Syria?

How Will Iran Respond to US Missile Attack in Syria?

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

Iran has been a major supporter of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s beleaguered president, throughout its civil war, which has entered its sixth year. In fact, until Russia decided to conduct airstrikes in Syria in September 2015, Iran was the only country that actively and meaningfully supported the Syrian regime. In addition to providing military and other support, Iran also enlisted the backing of Lebanon’s Hezbollah for Assad. As volunteers from Sunni states and communities poured in to join various Sunni terrorist groups in Syria, including the Islamic State (ISIS or IS), Iran mobilized Shia volunteers from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the so-called “Defenders of the Shrines,” to join the fighting on the Assad’s side.

Read More

Support US-Iran Relations and Receive a “Heart Iran" Pin

Support US-Iran Relations and Receive a “Heart Iran" Pin

What is the Heart Iran pin?

In the wake of the Trump administration's travel ban, many people asked themselves what they could do to help. One such person is the talented graphic designer, Kristina Filler, who contacted AIC and offered to create a "Heart Iran" pin so that Americans could show their support for the Iranian people.

The design of the pin - fittingly about the size of a flag pin at 3/4" wide - was partially inspired by the social media hashtag #lovebeyondflags that has gained popularity among Americans and Iranians alike. The hashtag has been used to emphasize shared experiences, promote dialogue, and express hope for improved relations. 

Read More

Dr. Amirahmadi On Leave From AIC; Announces Candidacy For President Of Iran

Dr. Amirahmadi On Leave From AIC; Announces Candidacy For President Of Iran

I am writing to inform you that I will be taking a temporary leave of absence as President of the American Iranian Council during the period of the Presidential election in Iran.  As many of you are aware, I have previously run for President of Iran. This year, I have again announced my candidacy:

English: https://www.trackpersia.com/iranian-american-professor-gears-presidential-election/ 
Persian: http://masalnews.ir/46222/

My leave will begin on April 10 and last at least through the Presidential election season.  The American Iranian Council is proud to be a non-partisan organization with nearly three decades of achievement in US-Iran relations.  My leave will ensure that the organization remains non-partisan and that there is no conflict of interest or association between my political activities and statements and those of the organization.
 

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 24 - 31

Iran Digest Week of March 24 - 31

Iran Imposes Sanctions on 15 U.S. Companies
Iran imposed sanctions on 15 American companies, saying that they were involved in human rights violations and had cooperated with Israel, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, in a tit-for-tat reaction to a move by Washington
The agency quoted Iran’s foreign ministry as saying the companies had “flagrantly violated human rights” and cooperated with Israel in its “terrorism” against Palestinians and in the expansion of Jewish settlements.
It was not immediately clear if any of the companies, which included the military technology firm Raytheon, had any dealings with Iran or whether they would be affected by Tehran’s action, which IRNA said would include seizing of their assets and a ban on contacts with them. (The New York Times)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 17 - 24

Iran Digest Week of March 17 - 24

Trump Sends Holiday Greetings to Iranians, Does Not Mention Travel Ban

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sought to ban travelers from Iran and other Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, issued a holiday greeting on Wednesday to Iranians celebrating the New Year holiday known as Nowruz.
Trump, who has also criticized the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers negotiated during President Barack Obama's administration, did not refer to the travel ban in his statement.
"Nowruz means 'new day' in Persian. It is an occasion to celebrate new beginnings, a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. (Reuters)

Read More

Making America Weaker

Making America Weaker

Originally published on The LobeLog
by Robert E. Hunter, AIC Board Member

Last week, President Donald J. Trump began moving from words and executive orders to the basic stuff of foreign policy and national security. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delivered its budget estimates under the headline: “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” Over the next several months, Congress will decide out how much of this blueprint to use in building the government’s structure for the next fiscal year. This includes the hardware and software and “people-ware” of the tools of American statecraft.

It was no surprise that, as promised, President Trump is asking for a hefty rise in money for the Pentagon, more than 10%, or $52 billion, from the appropriation signed into law by President Barack Obama last December. This brings the total to $639 billion and is the sharpest rise since President Ronald Reagan sought to intimate the Soviet Union during the Cold War. As OMB put it: “This increase alone exceeds the entire defense budget of most countries.”

Read More

Iran Digest Week of March 10 - 17

Iran Digest Week of March 10 - 17

Trump Travel Ban: Second U.S. Judge Blocks the New Executive Order

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have blocked US President Donald Trump's new travel ban, which was due to begin after midnight on Thursday.
The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees. Both judges questioned the legality of the ban, which critics say is discriminatory.
President Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the United States.He complained of "unprecedented judicial overreach". (BBC News)

Read More