Iran Digest Week of September 15 - 22

Iran Digest

Week of September 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

Iran's Rouhani Pushes Back On Trump

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Iran's president said it would be a "great pity" if "rogue newcomers" destroy the international nuclear deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
"It will be a great pity if this agreement were destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," he added in a clear reference to US President Donald Trump, who addressed the General Assembly the day before and offered scathing criticism of both Iran and the 2015 international agreement.
"I declare to you the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party," Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations Wednesday. (CNN)

Iranian Interpreter Defends Trump Speech Omissions

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time. He reaffirmed his pledge to put America first, said the US might "have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" and roundly criticized Iran as a "rogue state".
But some viewers watching in Iran may not have felt the full force of President Trump's criticisms. Iranian state broadcaster IRINN's interpreter omitted parts of the speech. While the full speech was broadcast live and unedited on Iran's English-language Press TV, IRINN's broadcast included a simultaneous Persian translation with a softer interpretation of President Trump's comments.
The interpreter behind the omissions, Nima Chitsaz, has defended his actions following widespread criticism on social media. President Trump included a number of marked criticisms of Iran in his speech, some of which are below. Mr Chitsaz's translations of the remarks are in italics. (BBC)

Iran's Holding Of 2 Americans Is Illegal, U.N. Expert Finds

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Iran's imprisonment of a prominent Iranian-American father and son on vaguely defined charges of collaboration with the United States is illegal, and they should be freed, a United Nations panel of international legal experts has concluded. 
Their opinion on the pair, Baquer and Siamak Namazi, has not been officially published, but it was released Monday by the American lawyer for the Namazis, just as Iran's president was arriving for the General Assembly meeting in New York.
The lawyer, Jared Genser, took the step as part of an effort to pressure the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, over the issue of the imprisonment of the Namazis and other American citizens in Iran. (The New York Times)

Nuclear Accord

Administration Unlikely To Brief Senators On Iran Deal Until After Certification Decision

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The Trump administration is unlikely to brief senators about the Iran nuclear deal until the president has decided whether Tehran is complying with its terms, according to correspondence cited by a senior congressional aide.
Senior Senate Democrats have been urging the administration to send the secretary of state, the director of national intelligence, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and potentially the energy and treasury secretaries, to Capitol Hill sometime before Oct. 6 to brief senators about Iran’s behavior under the nuclear deal. That is the last day senators will be in Washington before President Trump’s Oct. 15 deadline to certify whether Tehran is compliant.
But in correspondence with congressional leaders, senior National Security Council officials said it would be “highly unlikely” that they could orchestrate such a briefing before late October, or even early November. (The Washington Post)


At $80 An Ounce, It's Not For Everyone. But Iranian Caviar Is Eyeing A Comeback In The U.S.

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Nasser Meshkin Azarian took a careful nibble, letting the salty, grainy texture roll across his tongue. He smiled and washed it down with a sip of cool water.
“I give it an 82 or 83” out of 100, Azarian said. At the retail price of $80 an ounce in Iran, it was an expensive bite. But beluga caviar is for discerning palates. “Iranian caviar has a fantastic reputation all around the world,” said Azarian, the chairman of Bahoo Caviar, a distributor in Tehran. “It is only going to grow.”
As Iran’s economy tries to rebound from years of harsh international sanctions, producers of black caviar — that salt-cured delicacy associated with the rich and famous, with a price tag to match — are also eyeing a comeback. (The Los Angeles Times)

Iran Signs €500 Million Finance Deal With Denmark  

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Denmark's Danske Bank signed a €500 million finance contract with 10 Iranian banks on Thursday, becoming the second European lender to ink such an agreement with Iran.
Saman Bank, Bank Mellat, Tejarat Bank, Bank Melli Iran, Bank of Industry and Mine, Bank Sepah, Bank Pasargad Iran, EN Bank, Bank Keshavarzi, and Parsian Bank will act as the agent banks, providing civil projects in Iran with the Danish fund, Central Bank of Iran website reported.
At the Iranian ambassador's residence in a in Vienna attended by Ahmad Araqchi, CBI's deputy for foreign exchange affairs and Mohammad Khazaei, deputy minister of economy. (Financial Tribune)

U.K. Brushes Off Trump On Iran With $720 Million Solar Deal

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The U.K. deepened its economic relationship with Iran in a solar deal worth $720 million less than a day after U.S. President called the Persian Gulf nation a “rogue state” and threat to global security.
Current and former Iranian and U.K. officials gathered in London to announce a 600-million euro plan to develop a giant solar park with cash from investors in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The agreement underscores how difficult it will be for Trump to dismantle the 2015 nuclear accord, or JCPOA, between six world powers and Iran.
“The British government has made it absolutely clear that it sees the JCPOA as important, it thinks the JCPOA should continue,” Norman Lamont, a former chancellor of the exchequer who is also chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The British government is also backed by other governments in the U.K. and in Europe.’’ (Bloomberg)

Inside Iran

Iran's Leaders Are Bolstered By Billions In Loans From The East

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As Donald Trump escalates his offensive against Iran, its leaders are being bolstered by billions of dollars flowing from the east. It was the turn of the Chinese last week, as a group of Iranian banks secured $10 billion in loans from Citic Group, and Iran signed preliminary agreements worth about $15 billion with China Development Bank.
That followed a $10 billion credit accord with Japan last year, and Iran has also signed a $9.6 billion deal with the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
The funding is a “big political statement from governments,” some traditionally close to America, at a time when the U.S. is seeking help in confronting Iran, said Henry Smith, lead analyst on Iran and the Middle East at the Dubai office of Control Risks, a global risk consultancy. (Bloomberg)

Regional Politics

Iran Is Smuggling Increasingly Potent Weapons Into Yemen, U.S. Admiral Says

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The top American admiral in the Middle East said on Monday that Iran continues to smuggle illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, Stoking the civil strife there and enabling Iranian-backed rebels to fire missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia that are more precise and far-reaching.
Iran has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in Yemen, in which rebels from the country's north, the Houthis, ousted the government from the capital of Sana in 2014.
The officer, Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said that Iran is sustaining the Houthis with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen's northern border. (The New York Times)


Did Trump Just Make Iran More Popular?

By: Robin Wright

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On Monday, I sat in One U.N. Plaza, the high-rise hotel across the street from the United Nations, and watched a parade of European diplomats head into meetings with Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani. Boris Johnson, the blond-mopped British foreign minister, sauntered through the lobby in deep conversation with his delegation. The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, led by a military officer wearing the distinctive stovepipe kepi, and accompanied by a dozen aides and several photographers, scurried by next. One by one, the Europeans came to confer with the leader of a country that has been ostracized by the outside world, for decades, as a pariah. No longer.
The outside world now comes calling on Iran.

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