Iran Digest Week of December 30 - January 6

Iran Digest
Week of December 30 - January 6

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 Shiva Darian and Research Associate Bryan Falcone.


U.S. - Iran Relations
 

New Prospects for US-Iran Relations Under Trump

While campaigning for office, Trump repeatedly maligned the Iran nuclear deal as one of the worst in American history, and variously promised to tear it up immediately after occupying the White House.           

Since the election, Trump has shifted his public commentary on the subject to emphasize renegotiation, but some media analysis has pointed out how this could effectively undermine the agreement and compel the Iranians to walk away from it. (Iran News Update)

Congress Plans Targeted Legislation Against Iran and the UN

As the House of Representatives plans to vote on a resolution this week that will condemn the UN for its targeting of Israel, its leadership has already planned additional measures sure to please the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its allies in Washington.

Over the course of the next hundred days, Republicans hope to punish the UN for its passage of a resolution condemning Israel over its settlement enterprise and Iran over its destabilizing actions in neighboring Middle East nations. (Jerusalem Post)


Nuclear Accord

Top Scientists Urge Trump to Abide byIran Nuclear Deal

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Dozens of the nation’s top scientists wrote to President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday to urge him not to dismantle the Iran deal, calling it a strong bulwark against any Iranian bid to make nuclear arms.
“We urge you to preserve this critical U.S. strategic asset,” the letter read. The 37 signatories included Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms, former White House science advisers and the chief executive of the world’s largest general society of scientists. (The New York Times)

Kerry Warns Against Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned the incoming Trump administration against scrapping the Iran nuclear deal, saying it has made the world safer by leaving Tehran technically unable to build a nuclear weapon.
President-elect Donald Trump has criticized the deal for giving away too much to Iran and has suggested he might walk away from it.  
"Nobody can predict what choices [Trump] is going to make," Kerry said on January 5, but the United States had only "very bad choices" of a nuclear-armed Iran or a conflict in the Middle East before the deal was signed last year. (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty) 


Economy

Vitol Clinches $1 billion Pre - Finance Oil Deal with Iran

The world's largest oil trader, Vitol, has clinched a deal with the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) to loan it an equivalent of $1 billion in euros guaranteed by future exports of refined products, four sources familiar with the matter said.
The pre-finance deal is the first such major contract signed between Iran and a trading house since sanctions were lifted in early 2016. Vitol and NIOC declined to comment.  (Reuters)


Iran Certifies 29 International Companies to Bid for Oil, Gas Projects

Iran has named 29 companies from more than a dozen countries as being allowed to bid for oil and gas projects using the new, less restrictive Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) model, the oil ministry news website SHANA reported on Monday.
The list of pre-qualified firms included Shell, France's Total, Italy's Eni, Malaysia's Petronas and Russia's Gazprom and Lukoil, as well as companies from China, Austria, Japan and other countries. (Reuters)


Women of Iran

The Woman Building Iran's Civic Tech Sector (From Across The World)

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This is the story of Firuzeh Mahmoudi, founder of United4Iran and Irancubator, the first civic tech-focused startup incubator in Iran. She is also a creator of civil justice apps and a businessperson. Her business? Creating social good in a country she loves.
“Our mission is to improve civil liberties in Iran, and we do that in three ways,” says Mahmoudi, 45, who spent four years working for the United Nations in countries across the world as an international project coordinator before becoming a founder.
“We improve human rights. We support the civil society in any way we can. We build civic engagement and civil society through technology. That's what Irancubator is.” (Forbes)


Environment

A Witness to Iran's Intensifying Struggle with Climate Change

Ako Salemi took the first photographs of his career when he was a teen-ager, growing up in northern Iran. His earliest subject, a river near his family’s home, is now mostly dirt. In Salemi’s native country, as in much of the water-scarce Middle East, climate change has led to desiccation. Lake Urmia, once the sixth-largest saline lake in the world, now has just ten per cent of the water that it contained in the nineteen-seventies.
(The New Yorker)


Inside Iran

British - Iranian Woman Jailed in Tehran Attends Appeals Court

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A British-Iranian woman being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison has appeared in an appeals court, using the last legal opportunity to challenge her five-year jail sentence.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, was found guilty in September on unspecific charges relating to national security. 
On Wednesday, she attended a court session in the Iranian capital that lasted up to three hours, her husband told the Guardian. Few details have emerged about the hearing but a verdict is expected to be announced next week. (The Guardian)


Analysis

Why Iran Wants So Many Ballistic Missiles

By: Farhad Razaei

Unlike Iran’s nuclear program, the country’s arsenal of ballistic missiles has received only scant scholarly attention. At best, some highly technical analyses have been offered. At worst, the missiles have been considered only as part of the nuclear project, designed to carry nuclear warheads. However, the missile program is a complex and sophisticated response to Iran’s unique security challenges, and should be analyzed on its own.
The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in July 2015 has made this task more urgent. With the nuclear program rolled back, Iran’s missiles have become a new target of international attention. The ballistic program is run by the Revolutionary Guards, which has been subject to numerous sanctions because of its alleged terror activities.  Read More