Iran Digest: Week of July 31-August 7, 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

Obama: Iran Nuclear Accord a 'Very Good Deal'

President Barack Obama vigorously defended the international accord to restrain Iran's nuclear program by saying it "cuts off all of Iran's pathways to a bomb."

"It is a very good deal," Obama said Wednesday in a nearly hour-long address at American University in Washington.

He said if the pact is implemented, it 'would be good for Iran. It would be good for the United States. It would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. It would be good for the world." The president stressed that the accord builds on an American tradition of “strong, principled diplomacy” with adversaries. (Voice of America)

Read the full text of Obama’s speech.

Sanctions against Iran crumble as America wrangles over the nuclear deal

As debate rages among politicians and pundits in Washington over whether to endorse last month’s historic nuclear compromise with Iran, key European allies have already given their verdict: a resounding thumbs up.

Government ministers and business leaders in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere in the EU are racing to open up a new era of diplomatic, trade, investment and possible future military cooperation with Tehran, regardless of what American and Israeli sceptics say.

While Americans argue over timescales, technicalities and Iranian trustworthiness, behind their backs the scramble for Persia, recalling Europe’s 19th-century scramble for Africa, has already begun. The cohesion of the international sanctions regime isolating Iran is crumbling by the day. (The Guardian)

Regional Politics

Deal with Iran ‘will make the Gulf safer’

Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers welcomed the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on Monday, following a presentation in Doha from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We are confident that what they undertook makes this region safer and more stable,” said Qatari foreign minister Khalid Al Attiya.

John Kerry told the ministers that there would be “live oversight over Iran”, according to Mr Al Attiya, who said this was “reassuring to the region”.

Qatar currently heads the six-nation GGC’s rotating presidency. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed led the UAE delegation to the meeting. (The National)


Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations: Diplomatic Ties Could Resume Despite Yemen Conflict, Iranian Official Says

A deputy foreign minister in Iran spoke Monday about resuming ties with the nation's long-standing regional rival, following the Iran nuclear deal that has begun warming relations between world powers and Tehran. While both Iran and Saudi Arabia were engaged in what many see as a proxy-war in Yemen, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab-African affairs, said that the government hopes to ease tensions with Riyadh.

Relations between Saudi Arabia, which is predominantly Sunni and holds broad Western support, and Iran, which is Shia and has difficult relationships with the West, soured amid the Syrian Civil War as Iran backed the reigning Assad regime. They continued to deteriorate after the outbreak of fighting in Yemen, during which each country took opposing sides. However, Amir-Abdollahian said Monday that despite the conflict of interest in Yemen and Syria, the country hoped to resume ties with Saudi Arabia in order to promote regional stability. (International Business Times)


4 European States Ready for Environmental Cooperation with Iran: Official

Head of Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) Masoumeh Ebtekar announced that a number of European countries have expressed their readiness to work with Iran in the field of environmental protection.

“Four European countries so far have expressed their preparedness for environmental cooperation with Iran,” Ebtekar said in a Monday press conference in Iranian western city of Yasuj.

The four countries are Italy, France, Norway, and Poland, she said, adding that a huge part of the country’s environmental challenges would be resolved through interaction with these and other states. (Tasnim News Agency)

Inside Iran

Rafsanjani on future of Iran-US ties, Saudi Arabia

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran’s most powerful politicians, spoke about the future of relations with the United States. He also hit back at domestic critics of Iran’s nuclear deal with six world powers, saying they are “making a mistake.” 

A senior cleric and two-time president, Rafsanjani also spoke about regional crises, including Tehran’s tense relationship with Riyadh. Arguing that Iran “does not inherently have any issues with Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries,” he pointed to Saudi-Iranian engagement in the aftermath of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War despite Riyadh’s prior backing of Saddam Hussein. Rafsanjani emphasized that cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other regional states is “a priority in our constitution.” Of note, Rafsanjani headed crucial talks with Riyadh in the 1990s, along with then-Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rouhani, ushering in important security coordination. (Al Monitor)

BBC Allowed to Return to Iran After 6 Years

The Iranian government has granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) a licence to report in Iran for the first time in six year, it emerged Tuesday.

A crew from the BBC has been permitted to report on the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the international community last month in Geneva.

“This permit was issued by a joint committee of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and security organizations,” said Hossein Noushabadi, Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry spokesman according to Iranian media, “and they can only report on nuclear issues.” (TIME)

Iran plans to buy 80-90 Boeing, Airbus planes a year, post sanctions

Iran plans to buy as many as 90 planes per year from Boeing and Airbus to revamp its antiquated fleet once Western sanctions are lifted, its state news agency IRNA quoted a senior aviation official as saying on Sunday.

"Iran will buy a total of 80-90 planes per year from the two aviation giants in the first phase of renovating its air fleet," said Mohammad Khodakarami, the caretaker director of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, according to IRNA.

Last month's nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers has raised the prospect of banking and trade sanctions on Iran being lifted, perhaps around the end of this year, which would mean a chance to renew a fleet of commercial aircraft whose average age of 23 years is almost twice the international average. (Reuters)


Sanctions Worked, Congress. Let Them Die.

By Stephen R. Heifetz

Economic sanctions sometimes are called “war by other means.” But in war, the executive branch generally controls the battlefield without congressional interference. That’s unfortunately less so for sanctions. Many members of Congress are fighting President Obama now to maintain congressional sanctions against Cuba and Iran.

American businesses bear the burden of sanctions. The Cuba and Iran sanctions broadly prohibit trade in goods and services; selling even pencils or tractors in either country can subject a company to significant liability. In fact, American businesses have lost markets to their global competitors or paid billions of dollars in penalties for violating sanctions not only against Cuba and Iran, but also against Russia, Syria, Sudan and other countries, groups and individuals.

Read the full article.