Iran Digest: Week of July 17-24, 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.

Nuclear Deal

UN Security Council endorses Iran nuclear deal

The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers agreed last week.

The resolution, co-sponsored by all 15 members, authorizes the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran curbing sensitive nuclear activities. But it also provides a mechanism for UN sanctions to "snap back" if Iran fails to comply with its obligations.

No further action is required for 90 days, to give the US Congress time to consider whether to give its approval. (BBC)

John Kerry pushes back as Republicans attack Iran deal at Senate hearing

Republicans in the US Senate on Thursday used the first public hearing on the nuclear deal with Iran to assail Barack Obama’s administration, telling top members of the president’s cabinet they had been “fleeced” and “bamboozled” by negotiations between six world powers and Tehran.

Tension simmered from the outset of the hearing at the US Capitol, where secretary of state John Kerry, energy secretary Ernest Moniz and treasury secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate foreign relations committee as part of their efforts to persuade lawmakers to support the landmark deal announced in Vienna last week. (The Guardian)

Saudi Arabia Approves of Iran Nuclear Deal, U.S. Defense Chief Says

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter gave a surprisingly upbeat assessment on Wednesday of American relations with Saudi Arabia, asserting that the kingdom welcomed the international nuclear deal reached with its regional rival, Iran.

Mr. Carter, who visited Jidda and held his first meeting with King Salman, also said the Saudi monarch would visit the United States this fall and was committed to fighting the Islamic State, the Sunni militant extremist group.

The defense secretary’s description of ties with the Saudis, which he made to reporters after the meeting while en route to Amman, Jordan, was unexpectedly upbeat, considering Saudi Arabia’s strong reservations about the nuclear negotiations between the big world powers and Iran that yielded an agreement last week. (The New York Times)

Regional Politics

EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini to travel to Saudi Arabia and Iran

The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on an official visit on Monday 27 July. She will meet with the Saudi authorities including the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E Adel Al Jubeir.

Topics on the agenda will include bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, regional issues, in the aftermath of the agreement reached on 14 July on the Iranian nuclear issue, as well as international issues of common interest.

On Tuesday 28 July, the HR/VP Federica Mogherini will visit the Islamic Republic of Iran. This visit comes following the historic agreement on Iran nuclear programme. (European Union)

Turkish expert: Iran nuclear deal will benefit regional states

Turkish political scientist Nuray Mert calls the nuclear deal between Iran and the West “an epoch-making achievement”.

On July 14 Iran and the six major world powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) agreed on a final deal over Iran’s nuclear program. Also on July 20 all the UN Security Council members unanimously approved a resolution that creates the basis for international economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Mert also says the nuclear pact “will help to improve regional and domestic politics for all” countries in the Middle East. (Tehran Times)

How the Iran deal is good for Israel, according to Israelis who know what they’re talking about

In the aftermath of the deal over Iran's nuclear program announced in Vienna last week, attention immediately centered on the reaction in one country that was never a direct party to the talks: Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was swift and uncompromising in his criticism, declaring the accord a "historic mistake," and reiterating his long-standing opposition to rapprochement with the Islamic Republic. His anger was echoed by his center-left political opponents in the Israeli parliament.

But while Israel's politicians may be singing from the same song sheet, others are less sure. Prominent members of the country's security establishment have come out at various stages of the negotiations in support of the Obama administration's efforts. Some of these men have been consistently vocal in their opposition to Netanyahu's hard-line rhetoric, which included a controversial speech to the U.S. Congress earlier this year. (The Washington Post)


India ready to construct wind power farms in Iran

An Iranian economic activist said on Wednesday that India's Suzlon Company has announced readiness for construction of wind power farms in Iran in post-sanctions era.

'This company has designed, installed, and put to use wind farm mills in most countries around the globe with capacities over 14,000 megawatts,' said Maid Javdani in an interview with IRNA.

He said that that leading Indian company has branches in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, China, South Africa and the EU countries.

Javdani said that the Indian company is willing to make shared investments, or to provide the required technological know-how, the turbines and the facilities of the wind power mills for the Iranian electrical industries in the post-sanctions era. (Zawya)

Inside Iran

How Iran is trying to win back the youth

The Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo released a new music video the day before the Iran deal was finalized on 14 July. It was called Nuclear Energy and took the Iranian web sphere by storm. The clip features members of the Islamic republic navy on a warship singing “This is our absolute right, to have an armed Persian Gulf”.

Tataloo’s video is only the latest example of the ways in which the regime’s cultural centres have funded, supported, and promoted nationalism in lieu of Islamism to attract the youth, often appropriating banned popular culture in the process. (The Guardian)

Asia sees big business in post-sanction Iran

Asian companies are eyeing the windfall of an opening in the business environment in Iran after the conclusion of nuclear talks. Carmakers are waiting in anticipation to make their inroads into the Middle East’s biggest auto market. Iranians bought more than one million cars prior to the imposition of intensified sanctions in 2012.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for Asian automakers," Bloomberg cited Anna-Marie Baisden, London-based head of auto analysis at BMI Research, as saying. "There's quite an appetite for foreign brands with good quality," she said.  

Iran is the Middle East’s biggest car producer with a sizable industrial and employment base but the industry is based on assembling foreign brands. The industry has the full state support and a monopoly on the market which, many critics say, has resulted in a laggard sector with no serious efforts to improve quality despite frequent price hikes. (PressTV)

The Washington Post files UN petition seeking Jason Rezaian’s immediate release

The Washington Post has filed an urgent action petition with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asserting numerous violations of international law and seeking the immediate release of Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian.

Rezaian was arrested on July 22, 2014 and has been detained in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for the last year. For months, Rezaian was held without formal charges and without access to counsel. He has been subjected to harsh interrogation and months of solitary confinement.

Washington Post Publisher Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. said, “We continue to call on Iran for Jason’s immediate release, as he is completely innocent of any crime. For the past year, Jason has endured extensive physical mistreatment and psychological abuse, and we are deeply concerned for his welfare.” (Washington Post)


Historic Accord to Contain Iran's Nuclear Program: Significant but Complex Sanctions Relief

By Ed Krauland, Anthony Rapa, Bibek Pandey, Jack Hayes, Stephen Heifetz, Meredith Rathbone, Alexis Early, Andy Irwin, Richard Battaglia, Maury Shenk, Jeffrey Cottle, Helen Aldridge, and Guy Soussan

AIC's General Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, published an important analysis of sanctions relief following the recently-signed nuclear accord.

On July 14, 2015, the “P5+1” countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany, also referred to as the “the E3/EU+3”) announced an agreement to curtail significantly Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for providing phased economic sanctions relief.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) creates a framework, subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring, under which Iran will cease certain non-compliant nuclear activities and develop its civil nuclear energy program over a period of 15 years.  See Annex I, Annex II (with attachments), Annex III, Annex IV, and Annex V to the JCPOA.  See also our previous international law advisories regarding Iran sanctions.

Read the full article.