Iran Digest: Week of July 24-31, 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 Communications Associate Alexander Benthem de Grave.

Nuclear Deal

Obama implores supporters to lobby Congress in favor of Iran nuclear deal

President Barack Obama appealed to his supporters to be more active and “get loud” in pushing Congress to approve the Iran nuclear deal, during a 20-minute conference call on Thursday.

Pushing back on critics, the president said he’s “absolutely convinced that this is a very good deal that we should be proud of.. this deal cuts off the 4 main pathways for Iran to get nuclear weapons… Iran under this agreement can never get a nuclear weapon.”

Obama called out the critics, “people who would be opposed to any deal with Iran.” He specifically targeted AIPAC, who has formed a tax-exempt lobbying group to oppose the nuclear agreement – “the 20 million dollars that’s being spent on on ads on TV” – putting them in same category with those “that were responsible for us getting into the Iraq war” reached last week with Iran. (Haaretz)

Most polls suggest Americans support the deal, especially Jews

Two polls released this morning have rather different takes on the Iran deal. One, from J Street, confirms last week’s LA Jewish Journal poll that American Jews broadly support the nuclear agreement, 60–40%. The other, from CNN/ORC, is an outlier from the bulk of post-deal polls in finding that Americans want Congress to reject the deal. This conclusion, however, is likely because of the poor construction of the poll.

J Street’s poll asked 1,000 American Jews a few questions about the deal. It found that 79% had heard some or a lot about the deal—higher than the general population. Jews broadly support the agreement by 60–40%, which is also higher than the general population. And Jews want their members of Congress to approve the deal at the same rates, 60–40%. (LobeLog)

Top U.S. general says Iran deal lowers near-term atomic arms risk

The top U.S. military officer supported a proposed nuclear deal with Iran on Wednesday, saying it reduced the risk of Tehran developing atomic arms while buying time to work with allies to confront the Islamic Republic over other "malign activities."

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing he had advised the White House to keep sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program and arms trafficking for "as long as possible."

The deal between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France would lift the ban on ballistic missile technology for eight years and retain an arms embargo for five. (Reuters)

Regional Politics

Iran ceases financial aid to Hamas in Gaza, official claims

Iran has completely cut off its financial aid to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a senior Hamas official claimed on Monday, according to Israeli media reports.

Since a rapprochement between the two last year after a rift emerged three years earlier over the Palestinian group's refusal to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Tehran has been a financial backer of Hamas, who have controlled the Gaza Strip since elections in 2006, and their military operations.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has transferred millions of dollars to the Palestinian group's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, within the last year to finance Gaza's tunnel network and replenish rocket caches used against Israel during last summer's conflict, according to Western officials. However, Hamas's politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk, who is believed to currently reside in exile in Egypt, has now claimed that Iran's financial backing has dried up. (Newsweek)

The Iran agreement is a disaster for ISIS

By Federica Mogherini

The Vienna deal tells us that we all have much to earn if we choose cooperation over confrontation. Making the most out of this opportunity is entirely up to us. But nothing good will happen if we do not work hard for it. 

Isis (also known as Da’esh) is spreading its vicious and apocalyptic ideology in the Middle East and beyond. There is nothing more worrisome to Isis than cooperation between “the west” and the Muslim world, for it defies the narrative of a clash of civilisations the group is trying to revive. An alliance of civilisations can be our most powerful weapon in the fight against terror. (The Guardian)


Environmental Issues Discussed between Iran, France

A meeting was held between Head of Iran’s Department of Environment Masoumeh Ebtekar and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during which environmental issues were discussed.

Speaking in a press conference after the meeting, the Iranian official said she and Fabius conferred on ways to cooperate in the field of green technology.

“Our bilateral meeting today was also focused on the two countries’ cooperation on environmental issues and negotiations related to climate change,” she added. (Tasnim News Agency)

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 154 degrees, near world record

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 154 degrees (67.8 Celsius) today, factoring in the humidity. Its actual air temperature was 109 degrees (42.8 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32.2 Celsius).

Bandar Mahshahr sits adjacent to the Persian Gulf in southwest Iran where water temperatures are in the 90s. Such high temperatures lead to some of the most oppressive humidity levels in the world when winds blow off the water.

The highest known heat index ever to be recorded, according to weather historian Christopher Burt, is in the 155-160 degree range. In his book Extreme Weather, Burt says Dharhan, Saudi Arabia, also on the Persian Gulf, logged a heat index of around 155-160 degrees on July 8, 2003. Its air temperature was 108 degrees, with a dew point of 95. (The Washington Post)

Iran’s monitoring of Araz River a routine, relation to health issues needs more data

An Iranian official says the country’s monitoring of the Araz River comes as a part of a routine monitoring program defined by the Environment Organization. Recently there were worrying reports that the river’s pollution has caused health issues in nearby areas and that Iran has started a special monitoring operation.

Mohammad Javad Soroush, director of the Iranian Environment Organization’s Water and Soil Office said early July that the Environment 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. (Trend News Agency)

Inside Iran

"Iran holds plenty of economic promise"

As the congressional debate over the Iranian nuclear agreement continues, it remains an open question if American businesses can ever tap into the Iranian market. However, Moshen Farshneshani, director of relations for the United States-Iran Chamber of Commerce has few doubts.

He told CBS MoneyWatch that U.S. businesses shouldn't count themselves out when it comes to a market of 80 million people that demographically skews very young: 42 percent of Iranians are just 24 years old or younger. (CBS)

Lifting of sanctions promises boom in Iran’s tourism industry

The recent P5+1 nuclear deal is expected to bring a revival to Iran’s tourism industry, which has been waiting for the lifting of the international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear energy program.

As the removal of the bans on the Islamic Republic paved the way for normalization of the country’s relations with foreign countries, especially in the West, Iran’s tourism sector promises to bring billions in revenues to the country.

Iran – with an ancient history, mix of cultures, different climate zones and beautiful nature –is taking the measures to boost the tourism sector, which has been neglected after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (AzerNews)


Khamenei's strategy for the JCPOA: No war, no peace

By Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

The P5+1 reached a comprehensive nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Iran this July after almost two years of marathon negotiations. It is still too early to conclusively render judgement on the merits of the deal for either party, as it still awaits approval and implementation. While the US wanted to disarm Iran of its nuclear capability, Iran wanted to get relief from sanctions. Considering that the deal struck was a compromise, both sides have made gains as well as losses on paper. However, the winner or loser will be ultimately decided at the end of the implementation period, assuming approval and that no dispute will arise in the course of the next several years.

Read the full article.