Iran Digest Week of August 5-12

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 and Research Associate Bradford Van Arnum.


Nuclear Accord

Israel minister says Iran has respected nuclear deal


Israel’s energy minister on Sunday criticized a landmark nuclear accord between the Jewish state’s arch-foe Iran and world powers but said Tehran had so far respected the deal.

The agreement, which was signed in July 2015 and came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions by world powers.

“It’s a bad deal but it’s an accomplished fact and during the first year we spotted no significant breach from the Iranians,” said Youval Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Al Arabiya)


Regional Politics

Can Iran go around Turkey to reach Europe?

 

Iran's geostrategic location, along with its historic role as a conduit for the exchange of goods — especially its position on the ancient Silk Road — has made the country one of the most active transportation hubs in the world.

Through both its northern land borders and the Caspian Sea, Iran has access to Central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. To its south, it is connected to international waters through the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Iran's unique access to landlocked countries and its exceptional location make it an ideal transit hub — both in terms of cost and time efficiency.

This position has so far granted Iran membership in several international corridors with multiple transport routes passing through the country. These corridors include the North-South Transport Corridor, East-West Transport Corridor (the ancient Silk Road), South Asia Corridor and the Transport Corridor of Europe-Caucasus-Asia. (Al Monitor)

Putin encourages Iran to join Russia-led Eurasian alliance

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised the successful cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, and has expressed hope that a free trade zone can soon be established between Iran and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.

“Iran is Russia’s longtime partner. We believe that bilateral relations will benefit from the reduction of tensions around Iran following the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” Putin said in a major interview with Azerbaijani state news agency Azertac released on Friday. He added that Iranian leaders shared his approach.

In some branches of the economy Russian-Iranian cooperation has already become strategic, Putin noted. This concerned first of all the nuclear energy sphere, with Russia completing and servicing the Bushehr power plant in Iran and reaching agreements on building eight more nuclear power units. (Russia Today)


Economy

Iran economy minister: There are positive economic signs


Ali Tayebnia, Iran’s economy minister, is seeking to reassure a skeptical public that the economy is headed in the right direction, despite a lack of tangible signs of progress six months after the implementation of the nuclear deal.  

At a conference in the city of Mashhad, Tayebnia referred to the Persian acronym for comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, BARJAM. “Although we still have not seen the results of BARJAM in practice, it has brought about good openings that have caused the gradual signs of improvement to appear,” he said. “The statistics of economic activity in the first four months of this year [Persian New Year starting in March] have been promising.”

Tayebnia stressed that investment is key to Iran’s economic growth, saying, “In the last few years, volatility in the stock market had created some concerns, but now these worries have been addressed and the performance of this segment has a positive evaluation.” (Al Monitor)


Environment

Iran planning to promote environmental awareness at schools, universities

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Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) is planning on fostering environmental consciousness among students at schools and universities, ISNA quoted DoE chief Masoumeh Ebtekar as saying on Tuesday.

There are 60 textbooks in school curriculums with environmental issues highlighted in them and a book titled “Human and the Environment” with environmental content is now finished and available for the upcoming school year starting from September 22, 2016, Ebtekar explained.

Mentioning the Education Ministry’s active cooperation with the DoE, Ebtekar pointed that all the schools nationwide are required to initiate green management and encourage students’ participation in environmental fields as well as raise awareness among teachers. (Tehran Times)

Women of Iran

Rio 2016: Iranian woman expresses her joy after watching volleyball for first time

Sajedeh Norouzi jumped to her feet, both arms reached high into the air, beaming as she waved a small Iranian flag from side to side. Again and again. 

She waved at every chance. She waved for every woman back home who couldn't be there alongside her at Maracanazinho arena cheering for the men's volleyball team in its Olympic debut — her first time in a sports stadium because in Iran women aren't allowed to attend all-male sports events. 

The 27-year-old Norouzi, wearing a beautiful navy blue headscarf decorated with flowers of pink, yellow, orange and turquoise, insists she represented all of the other Iranian women Sunday night who are fighting to one day cheer their teams from the stands and not the TV. She had a purpose, and a passion, that she could release at long last sitting beside men who have been able to attend the games all along. (Independent

 

Iran: Women’s rights activists treated as ‘enemies of the state’ in renewed crackdown

Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women’s rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective initiative relating to women’s rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today.

The organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

“It is utterly shameful that the Iranian authorities are treating peaceful activists who seek women’s equal participation in decision-making bodies as enemies of the state. Speaking up for women’s equality is not a crime. We are calling for an immediate end to this heightened harassment and intimidation, which is yet another blow for women’s rights in Iran,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International. (Amnesty International)


Inside Iran

Iran executes nuclear scientist for spying for U.S.

 

Iran has executed an Iranian nuclear scientist detained in 2010 when he returned home from the United States, after a court convicted him of spying for Washington, a spokesman for the judiciary said on Sunday.

"Through his connection with the United States, (Shahram) Amiri gave vital information about the country to the enemy," Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference, state news agency IRNA reported. Mohseni Ejei said a court had sentenced Amiri to death and the sentence had been upheld by Iran's Supreme court, IRNA said.

Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, and later surfaced in the United States. But he returned to Iran in 2010 and received a hero's welcome before being arrested. (Reuters)

 

May presses Iran over detained Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

 

Theresa May has raised concerns with Iran’s president over several cases involving dual British-Iranian nationals, including the imprisoned aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the prime minister’s office said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, who was detained in April as she tried to leave Iran after a visit with her two-year-old daughter, is accused by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of trying to overthrow the Iranian government. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has dismissed the Revolutionary Guards’ accusation.

During a telephone call, the prime minister and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, agreed their two countries should seek to advance their relationship. (The Guardian)

Analysis

The Iran Nuclear Deal is Working for Both Sides, So Why All the Complaints?

By Stephen A. Seche


Gulf Arab states must be breathing a collective sigh of relief over the acrimony that continues to characterize U.S.-Iran relations a year after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka, the Iran nuclear deal. After all, Gulf Arab states were convinced the JCPOA would be Iran’s Get Out of Jail Free card, ending its international isolation and enabling Washington and Tehran to turn the page on more than three decades of hostility – at their expense.

All evidence to date suggests they can relax. The rhetoric emerging from Tehran regarding the United States and its intentions is as barbed as ever. The most recent outburst came August 1, when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laced into the nuclear deal, insisting that it “proved the pointlessness of negotiating with the Americans, their bad promises and the need not to trust America’s promises.”

According to Iranian state media, Khamenei has decided that the reason international investors have not responded enthusiastically enough to the opportunity to sink money into Iran now that some key economic sanctions have been lifted is because “the US is breaching its promises, and while speaking softly and sweetly, is busy obstructing and damaging Iran’s economic relations with other countries.”

 Read the full article.


Analysis

The Iran Nuclear Deal is Working for Both Sides, So Why All the Complaints?

By Stephen A. Seche

 

Gulf Arab states must be breathing a collective sigh of relief over the acrimony that continues to characterize U.S.-Iran relations a year after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka, the Iran nuclear deal. After all, Gulf Arab states were convinced the JCPOA would be Iran’s Get Out of Jail Free card, ending its international isolation and enabling Washington and Tehran to turn the page on more than three decades of hostility – at their expense.

All evidence to date suggests they can relax. The rhetoric emerging from Tehran regarding the United States and its intentions is as barbed as ever. The most recent outburst came August 1, when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laced into the nuclear deal, insisting that it “proved the pointlessness of negotiating with the Americans, their bad promises and the need not to trust America’s promises.”

According to Iranian state media, Khamenei has decided that the reason international investors have not responded enthusiastically enough to the opportunity to sink money into Iran now that some key economic sanctions have been lifted is because “the US is breaching its promises, and while speaking softly and sweetly, is busy obstructing and damaging Iran’s economic relations with other countries.”

 Read the full article.