Week of March 31- April 7
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 U.S. Sanctions Bill Delayed by Concern Over Iran Election
A bill to slap new sanctions on Iran has been delayed in the U.S. Senate due to concerns about Iran's May presidential election, in which conservative hardliners hope to defeat moderate President Hassan Rouhani, U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday.
A group of Democratic and Republican senators introduced the bill in March seeking to impose tighter U.S. sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by Republican President Donald Trump.
But on Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said the bill would not move forward for now. (Reuters)
U.S. Increasingly Sees Iran's Hand in Arming of Bahraini Militants
The men who built the secret bomb factory had been clever — suspiciously so, Bahraini investigators thought, for a gang known mostly for lobbing molotov cocktails at police.
The underground complex had been hewed, foot by foot, beneath the floor of a suburban villa, with no visible traces at street level and only a single entrance, hidden behind a kitchen cabinet.
But the real surprises lay inside. In one room, police found $20,000 lathes and hydraulic presses for making armor-piercing projectiles capable of slicing through a tank. (The Washington Post)
Iran Deal Devised Based on Mistrust of U.S.- Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says a multilateral deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries in 2015 was devised based on the Islamic Republic’s mistrust of the United States.
Speaking on Monday, Zarif reiterated concerns by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei about the US’s non-performance of the deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said such non-commitment had been predictable for Iran.
Thus, the Iranian foreign minister said, “the two sides proceeded based on mutual mistrust and devised numerous [contingency] mechanisms.” (Press TV)
High Stakes For Trump as Boeing Battles Airbus for Billions in Iran
Boeing has just announced its second major airliner sale to Iran since the Shah era. Iran Aseman Airlines signed a tentative deal on Tuesday to buy at least 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in a deal worth about $3 billion.
Preceded by a $16.6 billion sale of 80 aircraft to Iran Air under the Obama administration, Tuesday's sale is going to be a major test of Boeing's ties to President Donald Trump.
Even though Trump has not publicly voiced his opposition to U.S. aircraft sales to Iran, the president has consistently criticized the country for being a state sponsor of terrorism as well as a destabilizing force in the Middle East. (Forbes)
Iran, Hungary to Boost Nuclear Energy Coop
Hungarian deputy PM Zsolt Semjén said Iran and Hungary will sign a contract on expanding cooperation on nuclear energy to further cement bilateral ties
Mr. Zsolt Semjén made the remark in a meeting with Governor of Isfahan Teusday night, adding “the contract will be signed between the two countries’ high-ranking officials on Saturday April 8.”
“At present, Hungary is keen on expanding any kind of cooperation and relations with Iran in the political, economic and cultural fields,” he said. “We are also urging for Iran’s closer ties with the EU.” He went on to add, “in the near future, managers of major Iranian and Hungarian banks will ink a number of MoUs to increase economic transactions between the two countries.” (Mehr News)
U.S. Granted BP License to Operate Joint North Sea Field with Iran
BP and Iran's state-run oil company received a license from the U.S. Treasury last year to operate their joint gas field in the North Sea following the lifting of Western sanctions on Tehran, BP said on Thursday.
Production at the Rhum field was suspended in 2010 when Europe imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and only resumed four years later after Britain agreed to set up a temporary management scheme whereby all revenue due to Tehran would be held until sanctions were lifted.
Following the removal of European Union and United Nations sanctions on Iran in January 2016, the temporary management scheme ceased. (Reuters)
Women of Iran
Women Forced to Run Indoors While Men Compete Outside in Iran's First Marathon
Separate but not equal isn’t the tagline of this weekend’s upcoming marathon in Tehran, but it could be.
On Wednesday, race organizers confirmed to the Associated Press that while the men get to enjoy an outdoor course Friday, the country’s strict laws are forcing female participants to run the roughly 26-mile race on an indoor track.
“Personally I do not agree with that,” Dutchman Sebastiaan Straten, who is helping to organize what’s being billed as Iran’s first international marathon, told the AP. (The Washington Post)
Environment Dept. Disapprove of New Vehicle Inspection Law
The deputy chief of the Department of Environment has voiced his objection to the newly approved vehicle inspection law mandating the reduction of five-year interval for vehicle inspection to four years.
While one of the articles of the proposed clean air bill has clearly asked for the reduction of five-year interval for vehicle inspection to two years, Majlis (Iranian parliament) passed the article by decreasing the interval from five years to four years on Tuesday.
“It was previously decided to decrease the interval to two years for the cars since their production but eventually Majlis decided to reduce the interval to four years instead,” ISNA news agency quoted Sa’eed Motesaddi as saying. (The Tehran Times)
6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Near Iran's Mashhad Kills 2
A powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck northeastern Iran near the holy city of Mashhad on Wednesday, killing at least two people as residents fled onto the streets and aftershocks shook the region.
The shallow temblor damaged at least four villages near its epicenter in the Sefid Sang district, a remote mountainous area home to 5,000 people, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Mashhad, state TV’s English-language Press TV channel reported.
It said rescue teams and helicopters had deployed in Iran’s Khorasan Razavi province to the area to assess the damage.Semi-official Iranian news agencies posted videos online of panicked people in the streets, items falling off store shelves and photos of damaged buildings. (USA Today)
Iran Must Stop Assad Gas Attacks in Syria
By: Barbara Slavin
Iranians know better than most the horrors of chemical warfare.
During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, they were on the receiving end of mustard and nerve gas shells launched by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Some 50,000 Iranians were killed or injured, mostly young soldiers on the battlefield. A dwindling number of survivors live with the awful aftereffects of exposure, including blindness and severe respiratory problems that bring constant pain.
This gruesome experience compounds Iran’s moral imperative to prevent the regime of Bashar al-Assad from continuing horrific attacks such as the ones perpetrated on Tuesday against the northern Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun.