Week of October 13 - 20
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.
U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Escalates Confrontation With Iran
The Trump administration escalated a bitter confrontation with Iran on Wednesday, demanding that the United Nations Security Council punish the Iranian government for what the American ambassador called its "outlaw behavior" across the middle east.
"The United States will not turn a blind eye to these violations," the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, told a Security Council meeting that had been meant to focus on developments in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.
Ms. Haley used her speaking time instead to deliver a critique of Iran. Her remarks were among the most strident denunciations Ms. Haley has made of Iran since she became President Trump's ambassador in January. (The New York Times)
Khamenei Says Iran Will 'Shred' Nuclear Deal If U.S. Quits It
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would stick to its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers as long as the other signatories respected it, but would “shred” the deal if Washington pulled out, state TV reported.
Khamenei spoke five days after U.S. President Donald Trump adopted a harsh new approach to Iran by refusing to certify its compliance with the deal, reached under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, and saying he might ultimately terminate it.
“I don’t want to waste my time on answering the rants and whoppers of the brute (U.S.) president,” Khamenei said in a speech to students in Tehran quoted by state television. “Trump’s stupidity should not distract us from America’s deceitfulness ... If the U.S. tears up the deal, we will shred it ... Everyone should know that once again America will receive a slap in its mouth and will be defeated by Iranians.” (Reuters)
Tillerson: U.S. Trying To Stay In Iran Deal
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday the US is trying to stay in the Iran nuclear deal while hoping to achieve more from it, days after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the US out of the agreement.
"We're going to stay in," Tillerson said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," though he left open the possibility that the US could seek another agreement.
"We're going to work with our European partners and allies to see if we can't address these concerns," he added. Trump on Friday said Iran was violating the agreement and threatened to pull out of the deal, pushing the issue to Congress. Tillerson has said in the past Iran was in "technical compliance" with the deal. (CNN)
'Arabian Gulf' Ruckus Rallies Iranians Around The Flag
US President Donald Trump’s Oct. 13 address unveiling his administration’s new strategy toward Iran predictably sparked widespread reactions in Tehran. Unlike when Barack Obama was in office, Iranians were this time around more unified in their reaction to the tone and language of the president of the United States.
After weeks of back and forth, Trump in his speech accused the Iranian government of "not living up to the spirit" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and declared that he would not certify to Congress the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the accord.
The reactions were quick to follow. Even before the president’s speech was over, Iranian users on social networks, and especially Twitter, responded to what they believed was Trump’s violation of the nuclear deal, using the hashtag #NeverTrustUSA. (Al-Monitor)
U.S. - Iran Relations
Iran Guards Defy Trump With Vow To Boost Missile Program
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps pledged to enhance the nation’s missile program in defiance of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose hardened stance against the country last week included new sanctions on the security force.
The missile program will be expanded “at greater speed,” the Guards said in a statement carried by the Tasnim news agency on Thursday. Trump’s “hostile stance” toward Iran reflects the inability of the U.S. and Israel to shift the balance of power in the region, and their “anger” at the Guards’ role, it said.
The statement comes after Trump called Iran a “rogue” state in a speech on Friday that formalized his administration’s more aggressive approach. He refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear accord, even as all other parties to the deal maintain it is abiding by the terms. (Bloomberg)
Norway Ignores Trump Anti-Tehran Rhetoric And Agrees Iran $2.9 Billion Energy Tech Deal
Norway has ignored US calls to isolate Iran, as an Oslo-based solar company agreed a huge energy deal with Tehran on Tuesday. Solar panel manufacturer Saga Energy said it would invest $2.9 billion in Iran over the next five years, a clear sign to Washington that Norway won't follow President Donald Trump's calls on Western countries to break ties with Tehran.
"Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon," Norwegian ambassador Lars Nordrum told AFP. The deal between Saga Energy and Iran's Amin Energy Developers will see two gigawatts of solar panels installed in the country's central desert region.
It is the second largest investment deal in Iran since a landmark 2015 nuclear deal was agreed between Tehran and world powers - including the US - which saw an easing of crippling sanctions on the country. A host of European countries have attempted to strike lucrative deals with Iran once the trade embargo dropped. (Alaraby)
Women Of Iran
'Breath': Iran's First Oscar Nominee By Female Director
Iran’s official nomination to the 90th Academy Awards in the best foreign language category is the country's first ever nomination of a female director's work. “Nafas,” or “Breath,” written and directed by Narges Abyar, examines a tumultuous time in Iran through the eyes of a little girl.
On Sept. 19, a jury composed of nine film professionals nominated the film to represent Iran at the Oscars. Produced in 2015 and released in 2016, “Breath” combines animation and live action to depict the everyday life of a poor family living in Valadabad, a suburb of Karaj, during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.
"Breath" is the story of a curious and imaginative Iranian girl named Bahar who lives in her own world of dreams and fantasies during a time that is filled with political and social turmoil. An avid reader and dreamer, Bahar dreams of becoming a “doctor of breath” so she can treat her father’s asthma. Then the war starts. (Al-Monitor)
Struggle Over Kirkuk Puts The U.S. And Iran On The Same Side
When Iraqi military battled Kurdish forces this week to reclaim the contested city of Kirkuk, the spectacle of one American-backed ally fighting another with American supplied weapons was not the only incongruous sight.
Another was the United States turning its back on a crucial ally in the fight against the Islamic State, the Kurds, as Washington's goals aligned with those of a regional nemesis, Iran.
While the military action in Kirkuk on Monday and Tuesday was carried out under the banner of the Iraqi military, the ground forces included Iranian-backed Shiite militias. (The New York Times)
Iran To Blame For Cyber-Attack On MP's Emails - British Intelligence
Iran is being blamed for a cyber-attack in June on the email accounts of dozens of MPs, according to an unpublished assessment by British intelligence. Disclosure of the report, first revealed by the Times but independently verified by the Guardian, comes at an awkward juncture.
Donald Trump made it clear on Friday that he wants to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. But European leaders, including Theresa May, want to retain it. Initial suspicion for the attack fell on Russia, but this has now been discounted. The evidence amassed is pinpointing Iran, according to the assessment.
A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre, the government body responsible for helping to counter attacks, said: “It would be inappropriate to comment further while inquiries are ongoing.” The cyber-attack on parliament on 23 June hit the accounts of dozens of MPs, including Theresa May, the prime minister. and senior ministers. The network affected is used by every MP for interactions with constituents. (The Guardian)
Trump's Iran Strategy Looks Ominously Familiar
By: Philip Gordon
Listening to President Donald Trump’s Iran speech on Friday—in which he announced his refusal to certify the nuclear deal to Congress—I am sure I was not alone in having flashbacks to 2002.
Then, as now, we watched as a U.S. president set the United States on a course for war in the Middle East by politicizing intelligence, making false claims about weapons of mass destruction, overselling the benefits of confrontation and pulling members of Congress—afraid of looking soft on terrorism and WMD—along in his wake.
The result then was the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which ended up costing the United States thousands of lives and billions of dollars, destabilizing the Middle East, and vastly enhancing Iranian control over Iraq.
The question now is whether Congress will learn the lessons of that experience and prevent the president from repeating these same missteps—or if it will again be complicit in a colossal foreign policy debacle.