Iran Digest Week of December 7 - 14

Iran Digest

Week of December 7-14

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.


US-Iran Relations

Pompeo urges UN to ban Iranian missile tests

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to prohibit Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests, warning member nations that a failure to hold Tehran accountable could yield dramatic consequences.

But while allies echoed some of Pompeo's concerns, the divide between the US and nations remaining in the Iran nuclear deal was abundantly clear yet again.

Pompeo again claimed that Tehran has increased its ballistic missile activity since the Iran nuclear deal took effect in 2016 and defended the Trump administration's decision earlier this year to withdraw from the agreement. (CNN)

Iran's President warns US sanctions could increase flow of illegal drugs

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that the United States' re-imposed sanctions on Iran will not help his country in fighting drug trafficking and will open doors for illegal drugs into western countries, including the United States.

Rouhani made his remarks while speaking from Tehran at an anti-terrorism conference attended by parliamentary speakers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, China and Russia. Rouhani said "boycotting Iran undermines our ability to fight drugs and terrorism," according to Iran's state-run Tasnim news.

"By making Iran weaker through sanctions, many people will not be safe. Those who do not believe what we say, they had better look at the map," Rouhani said. (CNN)


Economy

Exclusive: Iran falls to sixth biggest oil supplier to India in November, from fourth in October

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India’s monthly oil imports from Iran plunged to their lowest in a year in November with Tehran dropping two places to become only the sixth biggest supplier after New Delhi cut purchases due to the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to ship tracking data and industry sources.

Last month, the United States introduced tough sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s oil revenue-dependent economy. Washington did, though, give a six-month waiver from sanctions to eight nations, including India, and allowed them to import some Iranian oil.

India is restricted to buying 1.25 million tonnes per month, or about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). (Reuters)

Europe: 'Working twenty-four seven' to set up Iran payment channel

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Europe is “working twenty-four seven” to launch the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating business with Iran in the face of US sanctions, an official says.

However the details of the process are confidential, former head of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iran Tarja Cronberg said.

“The European officials in charge of the SPV are working on it twenty-four seven, trying to bring it into operation as soon as possible,” she told the news website of Iran Chamber of Commerce on her visit to Tehran. (PressTV)

OPEC Talks Deadlocked as Iran Resists Pressure to Cut

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OPEC crunch talks were deadlocked on Friday as Iran was said to reject a symbolic oil-output cut as part of a wider deal with the cartel and its allies.

An agreement remained elusive as the Persian Gulf state insisted on an exemption from production curbs, one delegate said. It stuck in its heels despite attempts by non-OPEC producer Russia to broker a deal, with Energy Minister Alexander Novak shuttling between meetings with the Iranian and Saudi delegations at the organization’s secretariat in Vienna.

Discussions in the Austrian capital, now in their second day after talks on Thursday failed to produce an agreement, center on a proposed output reduction from OPEC and its allies of about 1 million barrels a day, with OPEC itself shouldering 650,000 barrels of the burden, delegates said. The size of the overall cut still isn’t finalized, one delegate said. (Bloomberg)

Iran will not reduce oil output, to stay in OPEC: Zanganeh

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Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday that his country has no plans to reduce its oil production, but will remain a member of OPEC, the official news agency IRNA reported on Thursday.

OPEC and its Russia-led allies agreed on Friday in Vienna to slash oil production by more than the market expected in a bid to shore up prices despite pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to reduce the price of crude. (Reuters)


Regional Politics

Iran hails ‘promising’ deal between warring Yemeni sides

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Iran has hailed preliminary deals between Yemeni parties as "promising", expressing hope that they would prepare the ground for the next round of talks in order to reach a final agreement.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Thursday welcomed "positive confidence-building measures" taken by the warring groups under the supervision of UN chief Antonio Guterres in Sweden.

Guterres said Thursday the Yemeni parties had reached an agreement on a ceasefire in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, bringing the first round of the talks to a close. (PressTV)

Lawmakers Urge Canada to Impose Magnitsky Sanctions Against Iran

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Canadian lawmakers and a former justice minister are urging Justin Trudeau’s government to impose new sanctions against key Iranian officials, citing what they say is a sharp increase in human rights abuses this year.

Irwin Cotler, a former minister who now leads the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, released a report Monday calling for sanctions against Iranian ministers, judges, prosecutors and prison chiefs. Lawmakers from Trudeau’s Liberal party and its two chief rivals joined Cotler in calling for so-called Magnitsky law sanctions.

Canada passed a law last year named for late Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose arrest and death in prison drew international attention. It allows sanctions to be applied broadly in human rights cases, and was used last month to charge 17 Saudi officials in the aftermath of the death of Jamal Khashoggi. (Bloomberg)

Hong Kong asked to tighten Iran loopholes after Huawei arrest

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The U.S. is urging Hong Kong to take extra steps to ensure the enforcement of United Nations sanctions on Iran and North Korea, in light of the territory's role in the alleged violations that led to the recent arrest of Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer.

Meng Wanzhou, who was released on bail this week after being apprehended Dec. 1 in Canada, is alleged to have been involved with a Hong Kong-based company that did business with an Iranian telecommunications group, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

According to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, senior officials from the U.S. State Department and Commerce Department visited the territory Dec. 5-7 for talks with Hong Kong government officials. The American side praised some measures taken by Hong Kong, such as tightened regulations on shell companies, but pressed for more thorough oversight of high-tech exports with potential military applications. (Nikkei)


Analysis

Europe Loses If The Iran Deal Collapses

By: Tarja Cronberg

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Iran is not the only loser if the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) collapses. A collapse may be near given the U.S. exit from the deal, and U.S. sanctions not only affect American banks and companies but also prevent Europeans from trading with Iran. The U.S. policy is to cripple Iran’s economy and to force Iran to accept U.S. conditions for a new deal. The Iranians, in turn, need to see the economic benefits of the JCPOA in order to stay in.

The EU is between a rock and a hard place. “We stand committed to the JCPOA and its full implementation by all sides. Preserving the JCPOA is in our shared national security interest” stated the European leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (E3) as the United States exited the deal. The EU wants to maintain its credibility as a global actor but also preserve transatlantic relations, the backbone of its foreign policy. (LobeLog)