Week of April 21 - 28
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. Destroyer Forced to Alter Course by Iranian Vessel Acting "Provocative"
An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship acted "unprofessional but also provocative" while approaching the USS Mahan, an American destroyer in the Persian Gulf on Monday, according to a US official.
The official said the Iranian vessel had its weapons manned and came within approximately 1,000 yards of the US destroyer.
The Mahan attempted bridge-to-bridge communication with the Iranians but got no response. The US destroyer then fired a flare but despite the obvious signs from the Mahan, the Iranian ship continued on its course, forcing the US ship to alter direction, the official said. (CNN)
Iran Convicted Two U.S. Citizens of Espionage. Their Relatives are Pressing Trump for Help
Relatives of U.S. citizens jailed in Iran are trying to press the Trump administration to secure their release as worries grow over the health of an imprisoned father and son.
Baquer and Siamak Namazi, convicted of espionage in a secret trial six months ago, are being held in a section of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, according to a petition their lawyer filed this week with the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The section of the prison is known “for the use of cruel and prolonged torture of political opponents of the government,” the petition by lawyer Jared Genser says. (The L.A. Times)
U.S. Nearly Silent on Iran's Presidential Election as Policy Toughens
U.S. officials who have been toughening their stance toward Iran in recent weeks have said almost nothing about its presidential election, now less than one month away.
And, some Iran observers say the silence regarding the May 19 vote could be a reflection of broad skepticism about its significance.
Wednesday during a State Department briefing, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made no mention of the Iranian presidential election as he gave his most detailed outline yet of the Trump administration’s toughening Iran policy. (VOA News)
Iran's Top Diplomat Says You Should Ignore Trump's Comments on the Nuclear Deal
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press published last week, President Trump suggested that Iran had broken the “spirit” of a nuclear proliferation deal agreed under President Barack Obama.
Asked if he believed the United States would stay in the deal, Trump replied: “It's possible that we won't.”
The comment seemed to offer another hint that Trump may plan to upend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) approved in 2015. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly criticized the “horrible” nuclear deal, pledging to “tear up” the accord if elected. (The Washington Post)
Iran Says Potential Deal for Early Jet Delivery Falls Through
IranAir has abandoned plans to take early delivery of a Boeing (BA.N) 777-300ER jetliner because the passenger plane is no longer available, the head of the Islamic Republic's national flag carrier was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
Iran had been expected to receive the first of 80 aircraft ordered from the U.S. planemaker in April or May 2018, but Iranian media and industry sources said this month it might get the first Boeing jet a year earlier than expected under a proposal to swap deliveries with Turkish Airlines.
"Boeing had proposed to hand over a 777-300ER by summer after Turkish Airlines withdrew its order for it. We welcomed it ... However, when we were almost certain that we wanted the plane, it was no longer available," Chairman Farhad Parvaresh was quoted by Iran's English language Press TV as saying. (Reuters)
Key E.U. Economic Delegations Heading to Iran
Iran is hosting two major economic delegations from the European Union to discuss the prospects for post-sanction banking activities as well as investment in the country’s energy sector.
Ali Divandari, the director of the Monetary and Banking Research Institute of the Central Bank of Iran, was quoted by media as saying that a delegation comprising representatives from 35 European banks would arrive in Tehran for a crucial forum next Saturday.
Divandari said that the Europeans who will represent banks from Belgium, Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Holland would participate in the Fourth Banking and Business Forum Iran Europe which would be held in the Iranian capital on 29 April. (Press T.V.)
Iran Inaugurates its Biggest Solar Plant Ever
Iran has inaugurated a major solar power plant as the country is pressing ahead with an ambitious agenda to use renewable energy resources.
The plant was constructed with an annual production capacity of 10 megawatts over an area of 20 hectares near the central city of Isfahan would produce.
Iran’s Ghadir Electricity and Energy Company and Greece’s Metka engineering firm cooperated over the project that took seven months to complete through an investment of around $15 million. (Press T.V.)
Iran's Khamenei says Next President Should be Less Engaged with West
Iran's supreme leader called on presidential candidates on Tuesday to champion economic self-sufficiency, further distancing himself from Hassan Rouhani's policy of opening to the West and seeking foreign investment.
Allies of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who aim to reclaim the presidency for their hardline faction, hope voters will punish the pragmatist President Rouhani for the slow pace of economic recovery despite the lifting of sanctions under a nuclear deal, the hallmark of his first term.
"The candidates should promise to focus on national capabilities and domestic capacities to resolve the economic issues ... rather than looking abroad," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state TV as saying on Monday. (Reuters)
Iran Presidential Election: Who to Watch
With less than one month to go until its presidential election, Iran is gearing up for a political showdown. Incumbent pragmatist Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term against hardline rivals and is seen as having a big chance.
Iran’s Supreme Leader holds ultimate authority, but the vote will influence the image and policies of the Islamic Republic.
Here’s our look at the main candidates to watch. (Euro News)
Obama's Hidden Iran Deal Giveaway
By: Josh Meyer
When President Barack Obama announced the “one-time gesture” of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses” last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans.
“Iran had a significantly higher number of individuals, of course, at the beginning of this negotiation that they would have liked to have seen released,” one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House, adding that “we were able to winnow that down to these seven individuals, six of whom are Iranian-Americans.”
But Obama, the senior official and other administration representatives weren’t telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal, according to a POLITICO investigation.