Week of October 6 - 13
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. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.
Trump Won't Certify Iran Nuclear Deal, But He Also Won't Unravel It
President Trump will make good on Friday on a long-running threat to disavow the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. But he stop short, for now, of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal's defenders had once feared.
In a speech on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump will declare his intention not to certify Iran's compliance with the agreement. Doing so essentially kicks to congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the agreement.
But the Trump administration made it clear that it wants to leave the 2015 accord intact, at least for now. Instead, it is asking congress to establish "trigger points,' which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by congress. (The New York Times)
Theresa May Urges Donald Trump To Keep Iran Nuclear Deal
Prime Minister Theresa May has urged the US to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran because it is "vitally important for regional security". In a phone call with President Trump, Mrs May stressed the importance of the deal being "carefully monitored and properly enforced".
The US President had been expected to scrap the agreement, as he said it did not serve US security interests. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the deal "an historic achievement".
He is to meet Iranian Vice President Dr Ali Akhbar Salehi in London on Wednesday. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson said: "We have made no bones about our deep concern at Iran's destabilizing regional activity... but I remain steadfast in my view that the nuclear deal was an historic achievement that has undoubtedly made the world a safer place." (BBC)
What Is - And Isn't - Covered By The Iranian Nuclear Deal
When the Iranian nuclear agreement was reached in 2015 there was a hope — and it was just a hope — that the deal would lead to a more moderate Iran.
As tough sanctions were lifted, Iran received billions of dollars in oil revenues that had been blocked. The country's international isolation eased, raising the possibility that Iran's friction with the U.S. and some Arab states might give way to greater engagement, at least in some areas.
No one is talking like that now. "I believe President Obama's flawed nuclear deal was a gamble, a gamble that Iran would choose to become a responsible actor," California Republican Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday. (NPR)
Iranian President Rouhani Says Trump Cannot Undermine Nuclear Deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday defended the landmark nuclear deal agreed with Western powers in 2015, insisting that US President Donald Trump could not undermine it.
Trump, who has called the pact "the worst deal ever negotiated", is expected to decertify the deal as he faces the 15 October deadline, a senior US administration official has said, a step which could cause the agreement to unravel.
"In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else," Rouhani said at a ceremony at Tehran University marking the start of the university academic year, state media reported. (Al Araby)
U.S. - Iran Relations
CIA Director Pompeo Lashes Out At Iran, Compares It To ISIS
On the eve of President Trump's decision on the certification of the Iran nuclear deal, CIA Director Michael Pompeo lashed out Thursday at the Islamic Republic in a speech at the University of Texas, calling it "a thuggish police state" and a "despotic theocracy," and comparing its ambitions to those of ISIS
The hardline speech, delivered as the keynote at a national security forum in Austin sponsored by the university, is "setting the stage" for the Trump administration's announcement on the nuclear agreement, expected Friday afternoon, said one senior U.S. intelligence official.
The president is expected to withhold recertification of the agreement, kicking the issue to Congress, which will have 60 days to reimpose the sanctions lifted after the nuclear deal was made. There are also reports the Trump administration may designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. (NBC)
Trump's Iran Decision Throws Uncertainty Into Business Plans
In the 21 months since a landmark nuclear agreement freed Iran’s economy from crippling economic sanctions, investors eager to tap the country’s energy reserves and its 80 million consumers have waited for signs it was safe to enter the market in full force.
Donald Trump is about to signal that they should keep waiting. The U.S. president is expected to announce on Friday that the multinational deal that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program isn’t sufficiently beneficial to the U.S. That will heighten the uncertainty for businesses such as Boeing Co., Airbus SE and General Electric Co. that have ventured into Iran and for others that were already hesitating.
“It will add to the chilling effect, and the Iranians won’t like it,” said Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. While Trump is expected to stop short of abandoning the nuclear accord for now, he may press Congress -- and other nations -- to rework terms of the deal and to impose new restrictions on behavior by the government in Tehran that the U.S. considers hostile, including its ballistic missile program and support for groups such as Hezbollah. (Bloomberg)
Women Of Iran
British-Iranian Woman Jailed In Tehran Faces New Charges, Says Husband
A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail term in Iran after being accused of trying to orchestrate a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic Republic is facing fresh charges that may lead to an additional 16 years in prison, her husband has said.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been in jail for 18 months and was due to become eligible for early release next month, but the new trial means she will remain behind bars.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said that at a court hearing on Sunday inside Tehran’s Evin prison, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told her case had been reopened and she was facing charges including demonstrating outside the Iranian embassy in London, based on a photo found from accessing her private email account. (The Guardian)
Campaign For The Rights Of Gonabadi Sufis Gains Support
A campaign launched on October 6 to protest against the crackdown on Gonabadi Sufis is gaining support, with more than 7,000 peopleprotesting against their persecution by authorities.
The No to Civil Death campaign was launched after authorities condemned Sufi dervishes Mohammad Ali Shamshirzan and Hamid Arayesh to prison for life unless they repent for their actions — a move that activists say is illegal.
The two members of the Gonabadi Sufi order had initially been sentenced to permanent exile for “waging war against the state” through membership to what authorities described as “a deviant sect,” but officials recently announced that they were to be given life sentences. (Iran Wire)
Iran Weary Of Trump's Plans In Iraqi Kurdistan
More than two weeks after the Sept. 25 independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran has yet to take any meaningful action against the Kurdish region despite its rhetoric, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s labeling of the plebiscite as treason and a threat to the region in his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 4.
“The perspective of the American and European states is completely different from the Turkish and Iranian perspective,” Khamenei told his guest, emphasizing that Israel and the United States are the main beneficiaries of an independent Kurdistan.
“America is interested in having a pressure card at its disposal against Iran and Turkey; therefore, there can be no trust in the Americans and Europeans and their positions.” While Iranian officials, including Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, have not hidden their anger and frustration at the way the Iraqi Kurdish leadership handled the referendum, they appear to be wary of a possible US plan to change the borders of the region in favor of the Kurds. (Al Monitor)
To certify or not to certify? That’s not the question
By: Suzanne Maloney
Shortly after President Trump took office in January 2017, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn unexpectedly took the podium at the daily press briefing. He used the opportunity to denounce Iran for “actions…that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East, that put American lives at risk,” adding that “we are officially putting Iran on notice
Flynn was ousted only days later. Still, his heated warning has lingered, the first sign of gathering storm clouds of renewed acrimony between Washington and Tehran. Seven months later, the Trump administration is readying a comprehensive new Iran policy—one that reflects more thorough consideration than Flynn’s impromptu threats, but that builds on the same pugnacious determination to confront Iran.
A central element of this strategy concerns the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which President Trump has denounced as “the worst deal ever.”