Iran Digest Week of February 23 - March 2

Iran Digest

Week of February 23 - March 2

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

Trump Administration Turns Away Iranian Christians

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The Trump administration has denied asylum to more than 100 Iranian Christians and other refugees who face possible persecution in their home country, despite White House promises to relieve the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East.
The group of refugees, mostly Christians along with other non-Muslims, have been stranded in Vienna for more than a year, waiting for final approval to resettle in the United States. Now they face possible deportation back to Iran, where rights advocates say they face potential retaliation or imprisonment by the regime in Tehran for seeking asylum in the United States.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has vowed action to alleviate the suffering of Christians in the region and the administration has condemned Tehran’s treatment of religious minorities. But critics say the decision on the Iranian Christians shows the administration had failed to live up to its own rhetoric. (Foreign Policy)

Nuclear Accord

Europeans Dig In Against New Iran Sanctions Risking Nuclear Deal

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European allies, pressed by President Donald Trump’s administration to impose tough new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, are digging in against moves that would effectively void the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
“There is no problem that you can think of with Iran that would not be to the power of 100 worse if this was a nuclear-armed country,” David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S., said Monday in a meeting with editors and reporters at Bloomberg’s Washington bureau. “So for us, the first thing to do is to make sure this country doesn’t have nuclear weapons. That’s what the deal did and does in our view, and it is working.” (Bloomberg News)

Iran hints at seaborne reactors while respecting nuclear deal

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Iran has fired a diplomatic warning shot at Washington by raising the prospect of building nuclear reactors for ships while staying within the limits set by its atomic deal with major powers, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report showed on Thursday.
U.S. President Donald Trump has long railed against the 2015 nuclear deal for reasons including its limited duration and the fact it does not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program. He has threatened to pull out unless European allies help“fix” the agreement with a follow-up accord. (Reuters)


Iran Clamps Down On Dollar Trading In Fresh Attempt To Bolster Rial

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The Iranian government has introduced new restrictions on the use of the US dollar by blocking imports priced in the currency, in what appears to be a fresh attempt to halt a slide in the value of its own currency, the rial.
According to local media reports, as of February 28 any purchase orders or other import documentation based on US dollars will not be processed by customs officials. The move comes as a result of a directive from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade to the Central Bank of Iran. (Forbes)

Iran, France oil trade tops $2bn

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French Ambassador to Iran François Sénémaud said that Iranian Oil Ministry could create favorable dynamicity in oil projects especially in South Pars Gas Field.
Speaking in the inaugural ceremony of Tutorial Workshop between Iran and France in HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) in the oil industry, French ambassador pointed to the salient achievement of the Iranian Oil Ministry in creation of dynamicity among Iranian economic enterprises and firms and added, “the French delegation in its recent visit from installations and facilities of South Pars Gas Field was deeply impressed on the incredible success of Iranian companies in this field.” (Mehr News)

Women of Iran

Iran detains 35 women for going to football match

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Iran has detained 35 women for trying to attend a football match.
They tried to go to a game between Tehran teams Esteqlal and Persepolis. Iran said they were temporarily held and would be released after the match.
Fifa's president, Gianni Infantino, was also in attendance, along with Iranian Sport Minister Masoud Soltanifar. (BBC News)

Inside Iran

Iran wrestling officials resign over Israel competition ban

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The head of Iran's wrestling federation has resigned after criticising authorities for letting players be punished because of the country's ban on athletes competing against Israel.
Rasoul Khadem, an Olympic gold medallist, was re-elected as the Iranian Wrestling Federation head only two months ago.
Other council members have also reportedly resigned. (BBC News)

Regional Politics

Russia vetoes UN resolution linking Iran with terror activities in Yemen

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Russia vetoed a United Nations draft resolution Monday that would have linked Iran with the transfer of Iranian-made arms to Houthi militias in Yemen.
The UK-proposed draft, which was strongly backed by the United States and its allies, was blocked by Russia despite being supported by 11 of the 15 members of the Security Council.
Two countries, China and Kazakhstan, abstained from voting, while Bolivia also voted against the draft. (CNN)

Rouhani: Iran 'ready' to talk to Arab neighbours

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Iran is ready to discuss regional security issues with its Gulf Arab neighbours as long as foreign powers are kept out of any potential talks.
"We don't need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.
"When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners," he added. (The New Arab)


A Nuclear Deal With Iran Remains The Least Bad Option

By: Peter Jenkins

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Abbas Araghchi was in London last week. Araghchi, one of Iran’s deputy foreign ministers, was a negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the July 2015 agreement designed to resolve international concerns about the nature and intent of Iran’s nuclear program.
Toward the end of an interview with the BBC on February 22, he was asked whether the JCPOA would “collapse if the United States [were] not part of it.” In reply, he re-affirmed Iran’s nuclear non-proliferation commitment but hinted that a US withdrawal would provoke an Iranian withdrawal unless Europe could ensure that Iran received the benefits due to it under the agreement—which he doubted. (LobeLog)