Iran Digest: Week of September 4-11, 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 Associates Alexander Benthem de Grave and Bradford Van Arnum.

Nuclear Deal

Congressional Dispatches: Senate Dems block GOP measure to thwart nuclear deal; House deliberates JCPOA

By Ceena Modarres, AIC Research Associate

After over six hours of debate, the U.S. Senate blocked a cloture motion (S.625) on a disapproval resolution  concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The final count was 58 votes to advance the resolution and 42 against. As a result, opponents of the nuclear agreement failed to advance a resolution that would disapprove of the nuclear agreement.

The debate and vote on the cloture motion was largely partisan. All but four Democrats voted against and every Republican voted for cloture.

After the result, the conversation on the Senate floor quickly turned into a vicious back and forth between Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Mr. McConnell criticized the Democrats and stated: “We’ll have another opportunity [next week] to see if we can move past this procedural device.” (AIC)

What’s Next for the Iran Nuclear Deal

With Senate Democrats blocking passage of a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal, the attention will shift from the halls of Congress to the nations and international agencies that must put the accord into effect. Here’s what happens next.

Q. What is the first thing that will happen?

A. The agreement is to be formally adopted on Oct. 19 — 90 days after it was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. That is the day when Iran and the six world powers that concluded the accord — the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — are to start taking steps to comply, although most of the early burden falls on Iran.

Q. When does the agreement actually take effect?

A. That does not happen until “implementation day.” Nobody knows for sure when that may be. American experts say it will take six to nine months for Iran to carry out the initial nuclear steps that are required for the accord to take effect. Iran insists it can act more quickly, in weeks or months. (New York Times)

Regional Politics

Saudi Arabia-Iran Talks Needed for Syria Breakthrough, Says United Nations Envoy

The failure of Iran and Saudi Arabia to hold candid discussions on the conflict in Syria is a key obstacle hampering a serious push for peace, the United Nations’ special envoy said, warning that a comprehensive political solution is urgently needed to prevent further loss of life and stem Islamic State advances in the region.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in Brussels, Staffan de Mistura said Thursday he believes many involved in the conflict—including Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad—realize a military victory is no longer possible.

He said some outlines of an eventual deal are clear and that some conditions enabling it, including tentative discussions between Moscow and Washington, are coming together. However, the conflict won’t be resolved, he said, without all key international players being involved. That includes Mr. Assad’s main backer Iran and its leading regional rival, Saudi Arabia. (Wall Street Journal - Paywall)

International Trade

Iran-Germany trade to see major rise

Indications are growing that Germany is set to again become Iran’s top trade partner in the future with officials saying that plans have been devised to increase trade between the two countries by four folds.

Nils Schmid, the deputy minister-president and minister of finance and economics of Germany’s Baden-Württemberg State, who is currently visiting Iran has told reporters that the volume of trade between Iran and Germany stands at $1 billion.

“Based on plans, this will increase by two folds in the near future and by four folds at a later stage,” Schmid has been quoted by the media as saying. (PressTV)

Iran, Austria to triple volume of bilateral trade

Iran's minister of economic affairs and finance says Tehran and Vienna are planning to triple the volume of their bilateral trade in the near future.

Ali Tayyebnia made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting with the visiting Austrian Vice Chancellor and Minister of the Economy Reinhold Mitterlehner in the Iranian capital city of Tehran on Tuesday, Iranian media reported.

“At present, the volume of trade between Iran and Austria stands at USD 300 million and the two sides decided during this meeting to increase the figure to USD one billion,” Tayybnia added.

The Iranian minister expressed hope that in view of the available grounds for cooperation between the two countries, the goal would be realized in the near future. (PressTV)


 Head of Iran’s Department of Environment, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has said that Iran welcomes international investment in clean technology to counter climate change and other environmental challenges.

During her speech at the Global Cleantech Summit in Helsinki on Tuesday, Ebtekar elaborated on diversity of Iran’s nature, actions taken by the country to reduce air pollution and revive Lake Uremia, optimal use of energy, conservation of endangered species and improvement of soil quality.

She also said, “International interaction in state and private sectors bear the message of peace and hope and such cooperation are considered good response to extremism and terrorism.” (Tehran Times)

Inside Iran

What Iranians want: U.S. vacations and German cars

Iran has been cut off from the world economy for years but that is about to change and its people are gearing up for a shopping spree.

After striking an historic deal to curb its nuclear program with global powers in July, trade sanctions imposed by the West will be lifted as long as Tehran keeps its end of the bargain. The country's massive oil industry will feel the most immediate benefit, but Iranian consumers already have their wallets ready.

An online survey conducted by London-based On Device Research examined the attitudes of more than 1,000 Iranians, weighted to reflect the population as a whole, and compared the findings with a similar study of American shoppers. It found Iranians aspired to wealth and an enjoyable lifestyle more so than their U.S. peers. (CNN Money)

Iranians back nuclear deal, but expect too much: poll

Most Iranians back the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers, but partly because they wrongly believe it marks an immediate end to all U.S. sanctions, a poll has revealed.

A study by the University of Maryland and Toronto-based found that 76 percent of Iranians polled support the deal to end their isolation in return for international oversight of their nuclear program.

But this support may prove weaker than it appears, as Iranians appear to have a number of false impressions about the agreement, particularly in that they think it puts a rapid end to international economic sanctions.

In fact, the U.S. and some other powers have only agreed to lift penalties imposed on Iran in direct response to worries about its nuclear program, and only then when it has upheld its end of the bargain. (Al Arabiya)


What Iranians Think about the Nuclear Deal

By Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi
Published in The National Interest

During my recent two-weeks in Iran, I spoke about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with many Iranians including working people, students, professors, business owners, professionals, public employees and community leaders in cities, small towns and villages. As expected, I heard diverse opinions and was asked questions reflecting a multiplicity of concerns that are not often raised in the public domain given the official ban. At the risk of simplifying the rich and complex observations, here is my bottom-line take on what Iranians think about the nuclear deal, its implementation and its impact.

First, most Iranians seem to believe that the deal will be approved by the U.S. Congress and that the hype over the Congressional vote reflects both a good cop/bad cop game and a political struggle between Republicans and Democrats in an election year. Indeed, a majority expressed the opinion that the deal hurts Iran’s national interest because its strategic position will be weakened and its investment of billions of dollars in nuclear facilities will be largely wasted. Except for those few dedicated to factional politics, taking contrasting avid positions, most Iranians seem dispassionate about the JCPOA.

Read the full article.