Iran Digest Week of December 8 - 15

Iran Digest

Week of December 8 - 15

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. - Iran Relations

Haley Says U.S. Has Evidence Iran Is Violating U.N. Resolution

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, standing before military debris that she claimed to be of Iranian origin, offered Thursday what she presented as “indisputable” evidence of Iran’s UN resolution-violating actions in the Middle East.
“The nuclear deal has done nothing to moderate the regime’s conduct in other areas. Aid from Iran’s revolutionary guard to dangerous militias and terror groups is increasing,” Haley said at a press conference at Joint Base Andrews, where reporters were invited to inspect the evidence on display behind her.
“Its ballistic missile and advanced weapons are turning up in war zones across the region. It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.” (Politico)

Nuclear Accord

U.S. Congress To Let Iran Deadline Pass, Leave Decision To Trump

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The U.S. Congress will allow a deadline on reimposing sanctions on Iran to pass this week, congressional and White House aides said on Tuesday, leaving a pact between world powers and Tehran intact at least temporarily.
In October, Trump declined to certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement reached among Tehran, the United States and others in 2015. His decision triggered a 60-day window for Congress to decide whether to bring back sanctions on Iran.
Congressional leaders have announced no plans to introduce a resolution to reimpose sanctions before Wednesday’s deadline and aides say lawmakers will let the deadline pass without action. (Reuters)

U.N. Chief Says Iran May Be Defying Call To Halt Ballistic Missile Development

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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Iran may be defying a U.N. call to halt ballistic missile development even as it complies with the nuclear deal with six world powers. The U.N. chief says in a report to the Security Council that the United Nations is investigating Iran's possible transfer of ballistic missiles to Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen that may have been used in launches aimed at Saudi Arabia on July 22 and Nov. 4.
The report is on implementation of a U.N. resolution that endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Ambassador Nikki Haley would hold a news conference Thursday in Washington to highlight its findings as well as Iran's "destabilizing activities in the Middle East region and elsewhere in the world." 
Haley has been a critic of the Iran deal and has traveled to meet with the international atomic energy watchdog to make the case that Iran has violated both the letter and spirit of the accord with its ongoing support of terror groups, and for its ballistic missile development and sales, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports. (CBS News)

Chair's Statement Following The 13 December 2017 Meeting Of The JCPOA Joint Commission

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A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) took place on 13 December 2017 in Vienna. This was the 7th meeting of the Joint Commission since JCPOA Implementation Day (16 January 2016). Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear deal.
The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Mogherini, by EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid and was attended by the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and Iran at the level of Political Directors/Deputy Foreign Ministers.
The meeting provided the opportunity to address the implementation of the JCPOA with regard to nuclear and sanctions-related commitments, as well as procurement-related matters. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the body charged with monitoring and verifying Iran's nuclear-related commitments in accordance with the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – has just issued its 9th report.  (European Union)


Rouhani's New Budget Focuses On Creating Jobs, Fixing Banks

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani submitted a $337 billion draft budget to parliament that earmarks about $100 billion for public service programs that would create jobs, address a banking crisis and introduce a new social security program.
Rouhani told lawmakers that the budget was based on oil prices forecast at $55 a barrel, according to an advance text of the speech, delivered on state TV. He said banks need to “withdraw from business dealings” and return to traditional lending services, and pledged more than $3 billion to shore up the sector, which has been beset by bad loans and unauthorized credit lenders.
The draft, which is to be debated, revised and approved by lawmakers, is for the new Iranian year starting March 21. It introduces significant increases to various fees and duties including car registration and the departure tax. (Bloomberg)


Iran, Netherlands Seek Increased Environmental Co-Op 

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Iran’s Department of Environment chief Isa Kalantari held a meeting in Tehran on Monday with Dutch ambassador Susanna Terstal, discussing ways to boost environmental cooperation.  Iran faces some environmental challenges – namely water shortage, air pollution and sand and dust storms – which need to be tackled through national and international measures.
“The importance of water and soil resources call for greater cooperation in sharing related knowledge and experience in order to preserve them,” DOE official website quoted Kalantari as saying.
“Population growth has resulted in an increasing need for food, consequently putting more pressure on water and soil resources. So planning for preservation of these resources along with providing global food security has grave importance and Iran is eager to use the experiences of successful countries in this regard”. (Tehran Times)

Inside Iran

Iran Postpones Court Appearance Of Jailed Woman As U.K. Minister Visits

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Hopes that a British woman jailed in Iran will soon be freed rose Sunday following a visit to Tehran by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's court appearance scheduled for Sunday on fresh espionage charges was postponed following Johnson's discussions with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.
"This is undoubtedly a good sign" Ratcliffe said. He said Johnson met with Nazanin's parents in Tehran on Saturday night to reassure them that their daughter was a top concern, and that her case had been discussed in every meeting he held. (CNN)

In Iran, U.N. Aide Chief Expresses Readiness To Support Post - Quake Relief Efforts

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Concluding a two-day visit to Iran, the top United Nations humanitarian official said the Organization is ready to fill any gaps in the relief efforts following the devastating earthquake on 12 November that struck the Iran-Iraq border.
“I commend the Government’s efforts to save lives and alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in the earthquake zone,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said Thursday.
“During my visit, I also reiterated the UN’s readiness to support the Government by providing humanitarian aid if it is required to fill any gaps in the response.” In his meetings with senior officials, Mr. Lowcock discussed the promotion of emergency preparedness efforts, international cooperation in disaster response, enhancing the capacity of the urban search and rescue teams, and exchange of technical expertise and knowledge with Iran. (U.N.)

Regional Politics

China, Iran To Boost Military Cooperation

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Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said Tuesday China is willing to work with Iran to maintain friendly military exchanges and strengthen cooperation.
Chang made the remarks while meeting visiting Ghadir Nezamipour, deputy chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces. Chang said the two countries have developed sound bilateral relations, deepened political mutual trust and made achievements in trade and energy cooperation.
"Under the new circumstances, China-Iran cooperation faces an important opportunity, and China is willing to cooperate with Iran to make new contribution to bilateral ties," Chang said. Nezamipour said he hoped for increasing communication, more pragmatic cooperation and a higher level of military relations between the two countries. (MOD)


The Logic Behind Iran's Regional Posture

By: Adnan Tabatabai

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On December 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei convened Iran’s top military brass. Iranian media circulated one key sentence of his remarks on the front pages of newspapers: “Today, the armed forces are in need of the best human resources…to save the nation from vulnerability against the enemy.”
Although Iran watchers will interpret this sentence to indicate Iranian determination to further invest in its military force, the key word they should pay attention to is “vulnerability,” because it entails the essence of Iran’s security policies. 
There is an astonishing mismatch between how Iranian top security officials and external observers assess Iran’s military strength and ambitions. While the latter believes that Iran is committed to expanding its hard and soft power in the region at any cost, the former consistently stresses the defensive nature of the Islamic Republic’s military capacity. 

(Read More)