Iran Digest Week of November 2nd - 9th

Iran Digest

Week of November 9 - 16

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 Communications Associate Shahab Moghadam. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.

Nuclear Accord

Iran Amb.: New U.S. sanctions policy has failed


The waivers that the US granted to avoid Iranian oil sanctions prove that America "has failed to create a consensus," Hamid Baeidinejad tells Amanpour in an exclusive interview. (CNN)

Iran honoring nuclear deal as new sanctions hit, IAEA report shows


Iran has continued to implement the main nuclear restrictions set by its 2015 deal with major powers even as the United States reimposed sanctions against Tehran, a U.N. atomic watchdog report showed on Monday.

Iran has kept its stock of low-enriched uranium as well as the level to which it refines uranium within the limits set by the landmark deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency report to IAEA member states, obtained by Reuters.

Several of the main items curbed under the deal, designed to lengthen the time Iran would need to build a nuclear bomb if it ever chose to do so, were verified shortly before U.S. sanctions were reimposed on Nov. 5 as a follow-up to Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord announced in May. (Reuters)

US banks prepare for Iranian cyberattacks as retaliation for sanctions


As the United States reinstated economic sanctions on Iran on Monday, American banks were gearing up for retaliatory Iranian cyberattacks.

Bank executives believe Iranian hackers could attempt to disrupt financial services, perhaps as they did between 2011 and 2013 -- with denial-of-service attacks that interrupted bank websites and other internet financial services.

Last week, CNN got rare access to a major American bank's highly guarded cybersecurity defense center in New York, where monitor screens listed "Iranian hackers" as the top "trending threat" at the moment. (North Korea ranked closely behind.) The bank's top cybersecurity executive said his team is bracing for a reprisal, because Iran "might lash out" as a result of the reimposed sanctions. (CNN)

Bolton Says Iran Will Be Squeezed ‘Until the Pips Squeak'


The U.S. intends to double down on sanctioning Iran, pressuring the nation until it submits, National Security Adviser John Bolton signaled on Tuesday.

“We think the government is under real pressure and it’s our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. “As the British say, ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

Iran’s vital oil exports have been under sanctions since Nov. 5 as the Trump administration ratchets up pressure on the Islamic Republic. Even before the latest penalties were reintroduced, the U.S. economic offensive had triggered a collapse in the value of Iran’s rial currency, pushing up prices and emptying some shelves of essential goods. (Bloomberg)


U.S. envoy for Iran warns EU banks, firms against non-dollar Iran trade


European banks and firms who engage in a special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran will be at risk from newly reimposed U.S. sanctions, the U.S. special envoy for Iran warned on Thursday.

It is “no surprise” that EU efforts to establish a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran were floundering over fear in EU capitals that hosting it would incur U.S. punishment, Special Representative Brian Hook said.

“European banks and European companies know that we will vigorously enforce sanctions against this brutal and violent regime,” he said in a telephone briefing with reporters. (Reuters)

Inside Iran

U.S. envoy for Iran warns EU banks, firms against non-dollar Iran trade


Signaling zero tolerance for economic crimes, Iran hanged two financial traders who were convicted of stockpiling gold coins and profiteering during a currency crisis, state media reported Wednesday.

Vahid Mazloumin, dubbed the “sultan of coins,” and Mohammad Esmaeel Qasemi, an accomplice, were hanged in the predawn hours just two months after their trial in front of a newly established court focused on financial cases, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency said.

They and a third person were swiftly convicted of “spreading corruption on earth,” which is punishable by death in Iran’s Islamic legal system. Death sentences for Mazloumin and Qasemi were upheld by Supreme Court in October; the third convict’s appeal is pending. (Los Angeles Times)

The World Was Catching on to Iran’s Contemporary Art. Then Sanctions Returned


In theory, the devaluation of the Iranian rial this year—to date, the currency has lost about 70 percent of its value against the dollar—should have been good for Hormoz Hematian.

The founder of Tehran’s contemporary art gallery Dastan’s Basement, Hematian spends a significant portion of his time traveling the world to show his artists’ paintings, sculpture, and installations to an international audience; he’s been to six different fairs or exhibitions in 2018 alone. So once the rial plummeted to a third of what it was just months before after Donald Trump resurrected oil sanctions on Iran, by maintaining art prices in foreign countries (and currencies) Hematian’s gallery should have been able to triple its profits. (Bloomberg)

Regional Politics

Iraq to exchange food for Iranian gas, seeks U.S. approval: government officials


Iraq has agreed with Iran to exchange Iraqi food items for Iranian gas and energy supplies, two Iraqi government officials said on Wednesday.

Baghdad is now seeking U.S. approval to allow it to import Iranian gas which is used in its power stations, and needs more time to find an alternative source, they said. The sources are a senior government official and a member of Iraq’s ministerial energy committee.

“The American deadline of 45 days to stop importing Iranian gas is not enough at all for Iraq to find an alternative source,” the first official said. (Reuters)


Iranians Fear Medicine Shortages as U.S. Tightens Sanctions

By: Nilo Tabrizy


The strain was evident in Alireza Karimi’s voice as he described his struggle to obtain the diazoxide pills his father needs to lower insulin levels and fight pancreatic cancer.

The medicine has to be imported, and until recently that was not a problem. But for the past three months, Mr. Karimi has not been able to find it anyplace, and there is now only one bottle left.

“Now that this medicine isn’t here, we’re forced to give him only one per day,” Mr. Karimi said in an interview over Telegram, a popular messaging app for Iranians. The reduced dosage has created complications, like the threat of convulsions and the need to monitor his father 24 hours a day to make sure his insulin levels do not spike, which could send him into a coma. (New York Times)