Iran Digest: Week of July 10-17, 2015

Iran Digest

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 AIC Outreach Coordinator Kayvan Vakili and Communications Associate Alexander Benthem de Grave.

Full Text of Iran Deal

The historic deal struck between Iran and world powers has already drawn harsh dissent, even as the full text of the agreement was released merely a few days ago. In order to minimize spin and speculation, the American Iranian Council encourages concerned citizens and lawmakers to read the accord prior to making hasty judgments.

After referencing typical accusations from his critics over the course of the nuclear negotiations, President Obama said in his press conference on Wednesday, "Well, now we have a document. So you can see what the deal is. We don't have to speculate. We don't have to engage in spin. You can just read what it says and what is required."

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), published on July 14, 2015, contains 159 pages and carries enormous implications for the future of diplomacy.

Read the full Iran Deal text

Nuclear Deal

In Iran deal, the whole world wins

Historic deals are not achieved every day, but Iran has clinched a deal with its negotiators in the face of outright fear mongering and pessimism. Both parties have ended up with a deal which is beneficial for them, unlike what we have experienced in the Greek saga. Perhaps US Secretary of State John Kerry should have handled the negotiations there, rather than German Chancellor Angela Merkel!

World powers have curbed Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon. This is not only in the interest of more stable Middle East, but it also paves the way for more economic growth around the world.

We believe that the Iranian nuclear deal is welcome news for many emerging and frontier markets. The deal is driving optimism across Turkey, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Pakistan and India. (CNBC)

U.N. Nuclear Agency Chief sees challenges in Iran Deal

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog expressed confidence that five months would be enough time to investigate and report on Iran’s past nuclear work while conceding the challenge was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is charged with ensuring Iran complies with a nuclear agreement reached this week with six world powers.

Action began on the deal Wednesday. The U.S. circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution to endorse it and eventually lift most U.N. sanctions on Tehran but allow the U.S. to use its veto to restore them if Iran is seen to be violating the nuclear deal. The terms were negotiated in Vienna by the five permanent Security Council members and is expected to be passed in the coming days, a U.S. official said. (The Wall Street Journal)

Obama defends Iran deal, challenges critics to present alternative

President Barack Obama on Wednesday defended the recently-negotiated deal with Iran and challenged critics to present a better alternative than what is currently on the table before Congress.

"It is incumbent on the critics of this deal to explain how an American president is in a worse position -- 12, 13, 14, 15 years from now -- if, in fact, at that point, Iran says, 'We're going to back out of the (deal), kick out inspectors, and go for a nuclear bomb,'" he said at an afternoon press conference.

Obama spoke for more than an hour Wednesday, taking questions from reporters, but shifting to posing some questions for himself at the end of the press conference, apparently looking to draw out his critics.

Regional Politics

German-Iran business ties complicate relations with Israel

With the adoption of the Iran nuclear deal by world powers – including Germany – on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela’s Merkel administration issued a full-throated endorsement of the agreement that will also advance her country’s economic interests.

The deal has, however, exacerbated certain tensions in the German- Israel relationship.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told German broadcaster ARD, “This is a responsible deal and Israel should also take a closer look at it and not criticize the agreement in a very coarse way.” (The Jerusalem Post)

Iran Nuclear Deal: Good and Bad News for Turkey

Officially, Turkey has welcomed the nuclear deal that the P5+1 bloc (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) reached with Iran, and the lifting of sanctions on its eastern neighbor.

Ankara said that the deal will contribute to the regional stability and economy;  will have a direct positive impact on Turkey; and  must be put into practice with full transparency.

Ironically, such warm welcome from Ankara put Turkey into the same line as its worst regional nemesis, the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who also welcomed the deal. "We are confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran will support, with greater drive, the just causes of nations, and work for peace and stability in the region and the world," Assad said in a message to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Gatestone Institute)


Great Salt Lake's Iranian 'twin' is drying up

It's an inland sea of nearly 2,000 square miles with extremely salty water supporting a delicate web of life and providing natural resources for important industries.

That may appear to be a description of Utah's Great Salt Lake. In fact, though, it describes a lake in Iran that is astonishingly similar to Utah's famous inland sea. The two salt lakes, on opposite sides of the world, are so nearly identical that scientists from both countries are working together to help them survive.

The major difference is that Urmia Lake — Iran's largest inland lake — is in a desperate crisis and in danger of drying up completely. "Yeah, that is a really severe problem for us," said Ali Chavosian, a Tehran-based scientist for UNICEF. "Unfortunately when we realized that the lake was shrinking, it was a bit late." (KSL)

Iran testing Araz River for pollutants

Iran is going to test the Araz River for radioactive, chemical and bacterial pollutants, an official said.

Mohammad Javad Soroush, director of the Iranian Environment Protection Organization’s Water and Soil office said that the Environment Protection Department of Ardabil Province, northern Iran, has been given the mission to monitor the river for pollutants.

He said the monitoring mission comes in response to reports that nuclear and aluminum waste from the neighboring country Armenia is spilled into the river and has caused a hike in cancer rates in people living around the river, IRNA news agency reported July 11. (Trend News Agency)

Inside Iran

Warning from Iran's hardliners mars celebrations of nuclear deal

The reactions of Tehranis from sundry walks of life who swarmed through the streets of the capital to celebrate the nuclear deal in recent days suggest that the Iranian public has experienced a psychological turning point. While uncertainties remain over the future of the economy as well as regional security, happiness is returning to a population that has been forced to withdraw from public space for nearly a decade. After years of domestic political pressure and material strife, Iranians see the Vienna accords as a paradigm shift that will end their country’s pariah status.

“This deal will benefit our children,” said child psychologist Mahshid, 40, who participated in this week’s celebrations in Valiasr Square with his 6-year-old son. “They’re the ones who can experience life without daily problems and headaches. Perhaps they can escape the pain we’ve had in the past 10-20 years. Maybe they will never understand what it’s like to live under the shadow of war.” (The Guardian)

Iran Hopes To Buy New Planes After Nuclear Deal

Iran's president has pointed to another possible windfall from the nuclear deal with world powers - his country may soon be able to buy badly needed new planes for its aging fleet, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Hassan Rouhani said Iranian negotiators came away from the talks in Vienna with "achievements beyond the nuclear" agreement and succeeded in having "aviation sanctions removed." His remarks were carried by the official IRNA news agency late Wednesday.

The landmark deal, struck Tuesday between Iran and six world powers after marathon negotiations in the Austrian capital, is meant to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, in exchange for sanctions relief. According to the deal, key economic sanctions - such as those on Iranian energy and financial sectors - would be lifted once Iran implements the restrictions on its nuclear program. (Huffington Post)


Sadegh Zibakalam: Anti-Americanism at a 'dead end' in Iran

By Maysam Behravesh

Sadegh Zibakalam is a professor of political science at the University of Tehran, and one of the most prominent public intellectuals and political analysts in the country. He is the author of a number of bestsellers in Persian, including How Did We Become What We Are, Hashemi without Polish, Tradition and Modernity, and An Introduction to the Islamic Revolution. In a telephone interview, he discusses how the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers will change the dynamics in the country - at least in the long run. 

Read the full article.