Iran Digest: Week of November 25 - December 2

Iran Digest

Week of November 25 - December 2

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 Research Fellow Nicolás Pedreira and Research Associate Bryan Falcone.

U.S. - Iran Relations

Mohsen Milani details his Expectations for Future U.S. - Iran Relations in a Trump Administration

Trump Rally Iran.jpg

Unusual, unpredictable and inescapable in US media coverage, the American presidential election also dominated news outlets across the globe.

For the first time in history, Iran aired U.S. presidential debates, underscoring Iran’s prominence in U.S foreign policy. While contemporary analyses — especially in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s rise — often paint Iran as an enemy, the University of South Florida’s Mohsen Milani is quick to point out Iran’s pre-1979 amity with the United States.

“Prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the U.S. and Iran were the closest of allies. More than 50,000 Americans lived in Iran. More than 65,000 Iranians students were studying in American universities. Then the Islamic Revolution came. The unfortunate hostage crisis took place. The two countries became bitter enemies,” Milani told KGOU’s World Views. (KGOU)

U.S. Senate passes Iran Sanctions Act

The U.S. Senate passed a 10-year extension of sanctions against Iran on Thursday, sending the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law and delaying any potentially tougher actions until next year.

The measure passed by 99-0. It passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously in November, and congressional aides said they expected Obama would sign it.

The ISA will expire on Dec. 31 if not renewed. The White House had not pushed for an extension, but had not raised serious objections. (Reuters)

Nuclear Accord

Theresa May's security officials to discuss Iran nuclear deal with Donald Trump's camp this year

British security officials are set to discuss the Iran nuclear deal with Donald Trump’s advisors after the President-elect signalled he would “tear up” the agreement.

Downing Street said the UK placed a great deal of importance on the pact and had put “substantial diplomatic effort” into securing it.

It comes after the director of the CIA issued a stark warning against dumping the deal, something Mr Trump has pledged, claiming it would be “the height of folly” and “disastrous”. (Independent)

"It would be a 'folly' to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran" - John Brennan

The CIA director says it would be an act of “folly” for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran.

John Brennan told the BBC in an interview broadcast Wednesday that it would be “disastrous” to end the deal designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Trump threatened during the campaign to scrap the deal. Brennan said doing so would strengthen hardliners in Iran and possibly spur other countries to pursue nuclear weaponry. (CBS NEWS)


Iran and the Global Economy: Have things changed?

Despite the recent upbeat statement from Iran’s vice president for executive affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari that the Islamic Republic is re-establishing brokerage ties with 450 foreign banks, the nation’s re-integration into the global economy is likely to proceed at a glacial pace.

Indeed, hopes that the world’s major banks will follow the lead already taken by smaller institutions and swiftly re-engage with their Iranian counterparts, are likely to be stymied in the short term for reasons of political and economic expediency.

An indication of the likely speed of the re-integration process came in a June statement from The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the global standard setting body tasked with money laundering oversight and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). (Gulf Business)

Iran disavows Trump Influence; Oil Deals continue

Iran is disavowing any impact that Donald Trump’s presidential victory earlier this month has had on the Islamic republic’s negotiations with international energy companies over its new oil projects.

“We've felt nothing (negative) so far,” Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Tuesday. He said that Iran is moving ahead with several basic agreements that were awarded to oil giants before and immediately after Trump’s victory, adding that the agreements would be finalized within the next three months. 


Iran struggles to grow its economy while adapting to Climate Change

Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, once a popular tourism destination, has become a symbol of the dangers of climate change, having lost 90 percent of its water since the 1970s. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged $5 million for conservation efforts, but it is unclear if the lake can be saved. In an email interview, Gary Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Iran, discussed Iran’s climate change policy. (WPR)

Inside Iran

Iran considers Naval Bases in Syria and Yemen

Iran’s chief of staff of the armed forces said Saturday that Tehran may be interested in setting up naval bases in both Syria and Yemen, the semi-official Tasnim reported.  

“Maybe, at some point we will need bases on the shores of Yemen and Syria,” the report by Tasnim quoted Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri as saying.

“Having naval bases in remote distances is not less than nuclear power,” he said. “It is ten times more important and creates deterrence.” (CBS News)


Defiance thrusts Iranian Lawmaker into Spotlight

Until recently, Mahmud Sadeghi was an obscure legal expert whose most conspicuous professional accomplishment was a two-year advisory stint with Iran's Education Ministry. 

That changed with the 54-year-old's election to parliament in Iran's tightly controlled elections in February, as one of 133 relative moderates allied with reformist President Hassan Rohani to have won seats in the 290-seat legislature, known as the Majlis. 

Government critics hoped their gains in parliament, and in the influential Assembly of Experts, would mark their return to relevance after more than a decade on the political sidelines. (RFE/RL)


Will Donald Trump Destroy the Iran Deal?

By Ellie Geranmayeh

There are not many issues on which Europe, Russia and China all agree, but there is one: ensuring that President-elect Donald J. Trump does not undermine the Iran nuclear deal.

There are legitimate grounds for concern that the incoming administration or Congress will sabotage the deal, which Mr. Trump has referred to as a “disaster” and vowed to “dismantle.” The president-elect has also surrounded himself with people like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John R. Bolton, both mentioned as potential secretary of state picks, who have said they want an immediate end to the deal and called for regime change in Iran. Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the C.I.A., Mike Pompeo, recently wrote on Twitter, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

Read the full article here.