Iran Digest Week of December 15 - 22

Iran Digest

Week of December 15 - 22

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

U.S. Urges U.N. To Punish Iran, But Russia Says No Sanctions

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U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the Security Council on Tuesday to punish Iran for what the Trump administration calls its "dangerous violations" of U.N. resolutions and "destabilizing behavior," while Russia said dialogue is needed rather than threats or sanctions.
Haley told a council meeting on implementation of the resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that in the coming days the U.S. will explore a number of options with council members to pressure the Iranians "to adjust their behavior."
Haley said the council could strengthen the resolution, adopt a new one to prohibit all Iranian ballistic missile activity, explore sanctions "in response to its clear violation of the Yemen arms embargo," and hold the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accountable for violating numerous council resolutions. (ABC)

Nuclear Accord

Boeing Sales To Iran At Risk As Trump Revisits 2015 Nuclear Deal

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The Trump administration is considering blocking planned sales by Boeing Co., Airbus SE and General Electric Co. to Iran, as the president reconsiders the 2015 deal to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, a person familiar with the matter said.
No recommendation has yet been made to President Donald Trump and his administration is also considering letting the sales proceed, the person said. Blocking the sales would potentially lead Iran to abandon the deal which had introduced restrictions on its nuclear program, an alarming prospect for some of Trump’s national security advisers.
The decision also puts in conflict two of Trump’s top priorities: confronting Iran, which he considers a threat to regional stability in the Mideast; and reinvigorating American manufacturing. Boeing, the top U.S. exporter, has about $20 billion in jetliner sales to Iran planned. If completed, the transactions would be the first U.S. aircraft exports to Iran since the Shah era in the 1970s. (Bloomberg)


Iran Economy's Recovery Strengthening But Bank Reform Is Urgent, IMF Says

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Iran’s economy is starting to recover more rapidly from years of international sanctions but the country urgently needs to shore up its banks, a senior International Monetary Fund official said on Monday.
Gross domestic product growth soared to 12.5 percent in the year through last March 20, but that was almost entirely due to a leap in oil exports, after most sanctions were removed under a deal with world powers on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Oil exports are no longer growing nearly as fast. But the economic recovery is now beginning to extend to non-oil areas, said Catriona Purfield, head of an IMF team which held annual consultations with the Iranian government this month. (Reuters)

U.N. Expects Iran's Growth To Remain Above 5% By 2019

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The United Nations has forecast a 5.3% economic growth for Iran in 2017 in its latest World Economic Situation Prospects. The growth is projected to settle at 5.1% and 5% over the next two following years respectively. 
“The economic situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran has improved visibly in recent years. In 2017, GDP growth remained relatively robust at 5.3%, after surging by an estimated 12.5% in 2016 due to a strong expansion of oil production and exports. GDP growth is expected to remain above 5% in 2018 and 2019, supported by easing monetary conditions and an improving external sector,” the report reads.
Iran’s economy took off after the removal of international sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program in early 2016. The 12.5% growth was made possible, mainly thanks to increased oil output after restrictions on crude sales were lifted as a result of sanctions removal. Government data show Iran’s crude oil production reached 3.8 million barrels per day by the end of the last fiscal year (March 20, 2017) from around 3 million bpd in the previous year. (Financial Tribune)


Schools Shut In Iran's Capital, Major Cities Due To High Pollution

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Iran has shut schools in the capital and some other major cities because of dangerous levels of air pollution, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
State TV said schools, closed since Sunday, would remain closed on Wednesday in Tehran, which has a population of 14 million and more than 8 million cars and motorbikes.
To reduce the pollution, Iranian authorities announced on Monday that cars were only allowed on the roads on alternate days, depending on their number plates. Mines and cement factories have been closed in Tehran province.  (Reuters)

Women Of Iran

'I Get Threats, I Get Sworn At': Iran's Taboo-Busting Female Standup Star

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As a 28-year-old woman born and raised in the holy city of Qom – the Vatican of Iran’s Shia Islam – Zeynab Mousavi is breaking numerous barriers to become the country’s first female standup comic to find fame, and notoriety, on a national scale.
Mousavi has found legions of young fans, but has also touched a nerve in a country where standup comedy is relatively new, and being a female performer remains taboo for many.
“Being a female standup comedian in Iran is like competing in a swimming competition whilst you are three metres behind the starting line and your hands and legs are tied,” she told the Guardian, referring to a comparison one of her fellow comics has made. (The Guardian)

Inside Iran

Earthquake Of Magnitude 5.2 Strikes Near Iran's Capital

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An earthquake of magnitude 5.2 struck a town near the Iranian capital Tehran on Wednesday night, state media reported, but there were no initial reports of casualties or significant damage.
Last month, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit villages and towns in Iran’s western Kermanshah province along the mountainous border with Iraq, killing 620 people and injuring thousands of others.
Authorities said they were gathering information about the latest quake, which hit in the late evening at a depth of 7 km (4 miles). They asked residents to remain calm but be prepared for possible aftershocks. (Reuters)

Regional Politics

Yemen War: Iran Denies Supplying Rebel Missile Fired At Riyadh

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Iran says accusations by Saudi Arabia and the US that it supplied the missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels at Riyadh on Tuesday are "baseless". A foreign ministry spokesman said Iran had "no arms links with Yemen" and that the country was "in a blockade and such possibility does not exist anyway".
The Saudi military said it intercepted the missile south of Riyadh. There were no reports of any damage or casualties. The Houthis said they targeted a palace where the Saudi leadership was meeting.
They have been fighting a war against forces loyal to Yemen's President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and a Saudi-led coalition backing him since March 2015. The coalition receives logistical and intelligence support from the US and UK. (BBC)

Iran Reopens Border Posts With Iraqi Kurdistan

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Iran has reopened all its border crossings with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, after their closure over a controversial independence vote.
Bahram Ghassemi said the two frontier crossings of Haji Omran and Parwezkhan had been reopened, without giving a specific date, after the Bashmaq frontier post began working again in October.
Iran closed the border crossings after Iraqi Kurds on September 25 voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence at a referendum Baghdad insisted was illegal. Iran and Turkey, which have Kurdish communities of their own, were also against the poll. (The Business Times)


Is The United States Capable Of Containing Iran's Influence In The Middle East?

By Michael Young

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The above question presents us with a paradox, because one can easily make the case that the United States and its regional policies have repeatedly facilitated the expansion and deepening of Iranian influence in the region. In the absence of a fundamental reevaluation of U.S.-Iran strategy, this declining superpower will continue to find itself incapable of “containing” Iranian influence.
Several U.S. policies have presented Tehran with the opportunity to establish strategic depth and underwrite its defense with a view to the near incessant threats of military action from consecutive U.S. administrations and the Israeli state. 

(Read More)