Iran Digest: Week of September 18-25, 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 Bradford Van Arnum.

Nuclear Deal

IAEA says Iran inspections deal meets its approval

The nuclear agency in charge of administering and enforcing the nuclear deal with Iran said Monday that Tehran's role in its investigation meets its standards.

Iran said Monday that it has given samples collected by its own experts from the Parchin site to the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited the country on Sunday, meeting with top Iranian officials and visiting the facility in question.

According to The Associated Press, which reviewed a confidential agreement that appears to give Iran permission to collect its own samples, video- and photo-monitored Iranian officials are permitted to take samples from the site and then turn them over to the United Nations agency for testing. The Parchin site, long suspected by Western countries to be a place where Iran developed nuclear detonators, has become a focal point of scrutiny from critics. (Politico)

Born in the USA: How America Created Iran's Nuclear Program

This is the story of the United States, the atom and Iran.

It's the story of a historic nuclear agreement — a story we may be tempted to think we know. After all, Congress just finished a chaotic debate that ended when lawmakers failed to block the deal. There was no solemn national moment of decision — no up-or-down vote, as with a treaty or a war.

But this was just the latest twist in a long and complex tale that dates back more than a half-century.

"The Iranian nuclear program has deep roots. In fact, it is four years older than President Obama," says Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group's senior analyst for Iran. Vaez grew up in Iran, which means the nuclear program is a personal story for him. (NPR)

US-Iran Relations

Secret Document: How the NSA Spied on Iranians in New York

The NSA will probably spy on foreign leaders like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the UN General Assembly in New York this week, applying a "full court press" that includes intercepting cellphone calls and bugging hotel rooms, former intelligence analysts told NBC News.

A top-secret report on a previous NSA operation against Iran's U.N. delegation illustrates just how extensive this electronic surveillance can be. The document, obtained by NBC News, shows the U.S. bugged the hotel rooms and phones of then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his entire 143-member delegation in 2007, listening to thousands of conversations and learning the "social networks" of Iran's leadership. (NBC)

Amirahmadi says Khamenei satisfaction with JCPOA implementation critical in furthering US-Iran ties

By Ilan Goldenberg


The Iran-US relation is still in waiting phase, Hooshang Amirahmadi the president of American Iranian Council told Trend Sept. 23.

The expert made the remarks while commenting about the Tehran-Washington ties in the short-term.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has closed all doors to the relations with the US, Amirahmadi said, adding Khamenei is waiting for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the other side, including lifting the sanctions.
If the implementation of the nuclear accord satisfies Khamenei, he will permit for negotiating issues beyond the nuclear case, the expert added. (Trend News Agency)

Regional Politics

Iran the "only hope" against terrorists, Rouhani says

Iran only hope.jpg

The Iranian president lauded his country's military as the most reliable force to take on "terrorists in the region," a reference to the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a speech during an annual military parade Tuesday.

Hassan Rouhani offered military assistance to Mideast countries, saying that so far, Iranian troops "have helped both Iraq and Syria" in the struggle against ISIS but insisted that Tehran has no military intentions toward other nations.

The parade marked the 35th anniversary of the start of the ruinous, eight-year Iraq-Iran war.

In his speech, carried live by state TV, Rouhani said that if "terrorists begin to expand in the region, the only hope will be Iran's army and the Revolutionary Guards." (CBS News)

Iran welcomes Russian help to end Syria crisis in Syria

Russia’s recent military buildup inside Syria to reportedly combat the Islamic State and help prop up the government of President Bashar al-Assad has caught many by surprise. Iranian officials have welcomed the move by Russia and said they will be working with them in both confronting terrorists and negotiating with Assad’s opposition.

Hossein-Amir Abdollahian, Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs who arrived in Moscow Sept 21, said on Sept. 22 that Russia and Iran will continue to negotiate with the Syrian opposition. Abdollahian, who is currently discussing regional issues with Russia, said the talks between Iran and Russia will continue at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Abdollahian said that both Iran and Russia will use their full potential to end the crisis in Syria. He denied that Iran has sent military advisers to Yemen, but said advisers were sent to Iraq and Syria at the request of those governments to combat terrorism. (Al-Monitor)

International Trade

France Opens Trade Office in Iran


France opened a trade office in Tehran on Monday, leading the charge of European countries angling for a share of the Iranian market after the July nuclear agreement.

The opening occurred at the end of a two-day visit that brought more than 130 representatives of French companies, including Airbus, the carmakers Renault and Peugeot and the oil giant Total.

Several European and Asian business delegations have been visiting the Iranian capital since the signing of the nuclear agreement, meeting with ministers and business leaders. The United States, however, continues to be a political outcast here, on the order of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (The New York Times)

India ready to invest over $15 billion in Iran; seeks cheaper gas

India is ready to invest more than $15.2 billion to build projects in Iran including taking up full-scale development of Chabahar Port if Tehran offers better terms including cheaper gas, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.

India is one of the handful countries that continued trade links with Iran, isolated by Western countries against its disputed nuclear programme. New Delhi is Tehran's second biggest oil client after Beijing.

"We are ready to make a huge investment in Iran and this is mainly linked to gas pricing offered by Iran ... Gas price is a crucial issue," Gadkari told a news conference.

Days before the historic nuclear deal between Tehran and the West in July, President Hassan Rouhani offered India a greater role in infrastructure projects including overall development of Chabahar port. (Reuters)

Inside Iran

Assembly election heats up as Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson indicates he will stand

Hassan Khomeini, the 43-year-old grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has signalled he will run for the Assembly of Experts election in February. Despite a generally low political profile, Hassan Khomeini has expressed opposition to extremism and supported the nuclear agreement with world powers.

He has previously rebuffed suggestions he might stand for the Assembly, an 88-seat clerical body that chooses and supervises Iran’s supreme leader, or even for the presidency. Khomeini’s candidature now could help boost a loose alliance of candidates supporting President Hassan Rouhani. (The Guardian)

In post-nuclear-deal Iran, a modest academic opening to the US

Even as denunciations of the nuclear deal still echo in the US and Iran, the mid-July breakthrough already appears to have quietly enabled the first steps in academic diplomacy between the two countries.

This week, five American students began a two-year masters program in Iranian studies at Tehran University – where US citizens were denied visas for years – and three more Americans have enrolled in separate Persian language programs.

President Hassan Rouhani, who promised Iranian voters sanctions relief and for whom the nuclear deal was a central achievement, has often spoken of Iran’s need to engage with the West. Last week Mr. Rouhani said the deal marked not the “end of the road,” but the start of better ties “with different countries.” (Christian Science Monitor)


The Real Reason America Needs to Engage With Iran

In the aftermath of the nuclear agreement with Iran, indications from both Washington and Tehran are that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is strictly an arms control deal. U.S. policy makers argue America should prioritize implementation of the agreement, reassuring Israeli and Gulf partners, and countering Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East. But if the United States focuses exclusively on mitigating the risks of the agreement and does not test opportunities for collaboration with Iran, it may close off a historic opportunity to reshape relations with the Islamic Republic.

Read the full article.