Iran Digest Week of April 14 - 21

Iran Digest

Week of April 14 - 21

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. Accuses Iran of 'Alarming Provacations'

The US secretary of state has accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining America's interests.
"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Rex Tillerson said.
The US has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal, although it admits Iran is complying with its commitments.Iran's foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson's criticism as "worn out". (BBC)

Iran: U.S. Should Pay for Spreading Terror in Region

Iran has censured the United States’ role in spreading terror in the Middle East region, saying Washington should pay for its wrongdoings.
Speaking at a news briefing on Monday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said US officials have shown in recent decades that they have not learned from their previous experiences and have consistently contributed to the escalation of terrorism in the region through their wrongful policies and indecent behavior.
Qassemi said that Washington’s policy continued under the new administration. “This is a mistake, which the US government should pay for like its other mistakes,” the official asserted. (Press TV)

Haley Says Iran, Not Israel, Bears Blame for Middle East Crisis

In her first session holding the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley tried to turn the spotlight from Israel to Iran, the latest target of the Trump administration’s tough talk. It wasn’t easy.
“If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit, Iran, and its partner militia, Hezbollah,” Haley told the Security Council Thursday. “For decades they have conducted terrorist acts across the region.”
For the past two weeks, Haley had encouraged nations attending the quarterly open meeting on “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” to tackle Tehran’s role in Yemen and Syria and its support for Hezbollah, topics she sees as more central to the theme of Middle East peace. (Bloomberg Politics)

Nuclear Accord

Trump Administration Talks Tougher on Iran but Sticks to Deal - For Now

President Donald Trump doubled down on the administration's tough rhetoric on Iran Thursday, echoing his Cabinet officials as he declared Tehran isn't abiding by the spirit of the nuclear deal.
Iran is "not living up to the spirit of the agreement" that curbs its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, Trump said at a White House news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. "And they have to do that." Trump said.
"I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed," Trump added.The President was following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who ratcheted up the rhetoric on Iran Wednesday, declaring the international deal to restrain Tehran's nuclear program had failed and that Iran continues to be "the world's leading sponsor of terrorism." (CNN)


Lufthansa in Talks With Iran Air Over Catering, Maintenance Deals

Lufthansa is in talks with Iran Air to provide catering, maintenance and pilot training as it seeks to take advantage of emerging business opportunities in the country, executives at the German airline group said on Wednesday.
Foreign companies have been vying for contracts in Iran since economic sanctions were lifted last year in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.
"We are in very, very intense discussions, actually almost on a weekly basis," Karsten Zang, Lufthansa's regional director for the Gulf, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, said at a press briefing in Dubai. (Reuters)


Tribunal to Tackle Air Pollution Violations

The Majlis on Tuesday approved an article in the Clean Air Bill that authorizes the formation of a special tribunal dedicated to air pollution cases in every court across the country.
The article was approved with 132 votes in favor, 24 against and six abstentions from among the 226 lawmakers present in the 290-member assembly, ISNA reported.
It is unclear why 64 legislators, who no doubt campaigned fervently to get into the parliament, did not take part in the voting process.Air pollution-related cases will be presided over by judges familiar with environmental law. (Financial Tribune) 

Inside Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 'Disqualified' from Iran Elections

Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been disqualified from running in next month's presidential election, according to state media.
The decision on Thursday was taken by the Guardian Council, a clerical body charged with vetting candidates for the May 19 election.
In a surprise move, Ahmadinejad registered as a candidate last week, despite previously saying he would not stand.Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously urged him not to run. (Aljazeera)

Rouhani Among 6 Candidates Selected for Iran Election

President Hassan Rouhani was among six candidates approved Thursday by Iran’s conservative-dominated Guardian Council to run in next month’s election while former leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was barred, state media reported.
The other candidates selected were hardliners Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, conservative Mostafa Mirsalim, former minister Mostafa Hashemitaba and Rouhani’s ally and vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri.
Both Ahmadinejad and his close ally Hamid Baghaie were barred from running by the Guardian Council.The former hardline president, who ruled from 2005 to 2013, shocked everyone by registering as a candidate last week against the advice of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (The Guardian)

Regional Politics

Revolutionary Guard General Takes Over as New Iranian Ambassador in Iraq

A general from Iran's Revolutionary Guards assumed the post of ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday, in a sign of the key role the military force is currently playing in its neighboring country.
A general from Iran's Revolutionary Guards assumed the post of ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday, in a sign of the key role the military force is currently playing in its neighboring country
Since Islamic State took control of swathes of Iraq in 2014, Soleimani worked with top Iraqi security officials to fight the militant Islamist group, primarily through a Shi'ite volunteer force known as Popular Mobilization Units. (Reuters)


Trump's Nuclear Problem with Iran Requires a Plan B

By: Jonathan Marcus

Once again rhetoric and reality in the Trump administration appear to be at odds with each other.
Earlier this week, the administration certified to Congress - as it must every 90 days - that Iran was abiding by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name given to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
But the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, later underlined that his country's policy towards Iran was under full-scale review.And in a message that will be heard loud and clear in Tehran, he castigated Iran's "alarming and ongoing provocations" and described the country as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism".

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