Iran Digest Week of March 16 - 23

Iran Digest

Week of March 16 - 23

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

On Persian New Year, Trump slams Iranian rulers

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President Donald Trump had a message to Iranians celebrating Persian New Year, known as Nowruz: Your country's government is corrupt.
He began the statement wishing "a beautiful and blessed Nowruz" to people across the globe, but went on to slam Iran's government and military leaders. The holiday, which this year falls on Tuesday, marks the arrival of spring. It's celebrated by millions across the globe.
"The history of Nowruz is rooted in Iran, where for millennia a proud nation has overcome great challenges by the strength of its culture and the resilience of its people," Trump said in a statement released Monday. "Today, the Iranian people face another challenge: rulers who serve themselves instead of serving the people." (CNN)

Mattis: Iran Working to Destabilize Middle East

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“Everywhere you find turmoil [in the Middle East], you find Iran’s hand in it,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday.
During an impromptu news conference, Mattis addressed questions about Iran and U.S. efforts to expose Iran’s malicious behavior.
He praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s Dec. 14 presentation at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling here that highlighted Iran’s illegal arms program. Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that Iran’s proxy – the Houthis – fired at Riyadh International Airport, a civilian target in Saudi Arabia. The missile didn’t hit the airport, but if it had, it potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians. (DOD)

Nuclear Accord

European powers propose new Iran sanctions to meet Trump ultimatum

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Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, according to a confidential document, in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
The joint paper, seen by Reuters, was sent to European Union capitals on Friday, said two people familiar with the matter, to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the support of all 28 EU member governments.
The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing U.S. President Donald Trump that there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad. (Reuters)

US prepares to leave Iran deal, even as talks with Europe continue

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US officials are taking a two-track approach to the Iran nuclear deal, negotiating with allies to make changes demanded by President Donald Trump even as they prepare to walk away from the international agreement.
Trump set a May 12 deadline -- the next date by which he has to waive sanctions against Iran or leave the deal -- for the US and its European allies to agree on changes to address what he sees as its flaws.
The President's thinking, officials say, is that if the US and Europe are united on amending the deal, the other signatories -- Russia and China -- will come along, and Iran will have no choice but to comply. (CNN)


Total to apply for waiver if US withdraws from Iran deal

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French oil major Total is committed to the development of an Iranian gasfield and will apply for a waiver if US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdraws from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposes sanctions on Tehran, the company’s chief executive said.
“If the US decides to put back the sanctions, we have to look at what the consequences are…and then we will see, either Donald Trump decides to maintain the waivers and we will move on with the project,” Patrick Pouyanne said in an interview in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. “If the US decides not to sign the waiver, then what will be our position, it’s quite simple - as the project has been awarded prior to that decision during the period of time that we could sign … we will argue that we should benefit from the grandfather clause and we will ask for a waiver from the US authorities.” (The National)

Iran Air secures Chinese funding for aircraft

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Iran Air signed an agreement with an undisclosed Chinese company to provide funding for the company’s aircraft purchases, recently secured with Airbus and Boeing, according to the country’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development. Iran Air is expected to cover 15% of the funding for the aircraft, with 85% from its new financing from China.
The deal follows months of negotiations, with deliveries now expected to resume on 21 June 2018 as per the agreement with Airbus.
In December 2016, Boeing and Iran Air agreed to a deal for 50 B737s and 30 B777s, valued at US$16.6 billion. A similar deal was also signed with Airbus, for 100 planes worth up to $20 billion at list prices. Iran Air has already received three of the Airbus aircraft, all paid for in cash and considered as PDP for the remainder of the order once financing was shored up. (Aviator)

Trump poses new threat to Iran’s resurgent rug trade

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Iran’s carpet sales continued to rise last year which also saw the country reclaim much of the market share it had lost during years of intensified sanctions, especially in the US.
As many as 80 countries received shipments of handmade Iranian carpets totaling $400 million in value in the Persian year which ended on Tuesday, head of Iran National Carpet Center Hamid Kargar told Fars news agency Wednesday.
“More than $100 million worth of Iranian carpets were exported to the United States in the 11 months of 1396 while in the past years, those exports had reached zero as a result of sanctions and malicious policies of the United States,” he said. (PressTV)


Deteriorating environment is waiting for the right decisions

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Did you know if you’re 41 or younger you’ve never experienced a normal climate, not even once? This was shared on Years of Living Dangerously, an American documentary television series focusing on global warming, Instagram page on March 6.
The last time it was cooler than the 20th century average was in 1976 when Gerald Ford was President of the United States. The first Star Wars movie had just started filming and Steve Jobs had just founded Apple computer in his garage. 
If you were born in the 1980’s, you grew up in the warmest decade ever recorded. That is until the 1990's, where every year was warmer than the 1980's average. And each decade has been hotter than the last, right up until today. If you’re in your teens, almost every year of your life has been one of the hottest years ever recorded. 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. This is just the beginning. What may seem “normal” today will soon feel anything but. These are #climatefacts share widely. (Tehran Times)

Inside Iran

Iranian officials mocked for using foreign products

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It began with a televised address in Iran in celebration of Persian New Year on Tuesday, when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged Iranians to support local products rather than importing from abroad.
Soon afterwards, photos began to emerge on social media of some officials purportedly failing to follow that advice - including Khamenei himself.
A photo of the Supreme Leader apparently getting out of a BMW was liked more than 1,200 times, with some people reposting the image alongside a picture of pre-Islamic Republic Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda driving the first Iranian-made Paykan car in the 1960s. (BBC News)


How the New York Times Makes War With Iran More Likely

By: Robert Wright

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It's not easy to say which country America will fight in its next ill-advised war. Iran? Or, assuming President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un don’t hit it off at their summit, North Korea? Maybe even Venezuela or Russia?
It’s easier to say what one of the major causes of the war will be: the failure by many Americans — notably politicians, journalists, think tankers, and other elites — to employ a specific mental power that we’re all capable of employing.
That power is called cognitive empathy, and it’s not what you might think. It doesn’t involve feeling people’s pain or even caring about their welfare. Emotional empathy is the kind of empathy that accomplishes those things. Cognitive empathy — sometimes called perspective taking — is a matter of seeing someone’s point of view: understanding how they’re processing information, how the world looks to them. Sounds unexceptional, I know — like the kind of thing you do every day. But there are at least two reasons cognitive empathy deserves more attention than it gets. (The Intercept)