Week of April 6 - April 13
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.
Renewed sanctions need not mean U.S. exit from Iran deal: Mnuchin
A decision by U.S. President Donald Trump not to renew sanctions relief for Iran on May 12 would not necessarily mean the United States had withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear what Mnuchin meant by his comment but it appeared to signal the Trump administration believes the agreement will not necessarily collapse if Trump chooses not to extend U.S. sanctions relief to Iran.
The crux of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - was that Iran would restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy. (Reuters)
Iran tells France not to be influenced by Saudi prince on nuclear deal
Iran urged France on Thursday not to be influenced by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
The statement came after the prince - who is also defense minister of Iran’s main regional rival - appeared to chide French President Emmanuel Macron this week for supporting the 2015 deal to lift most economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to Tehran’s nuclear program.
“As one of the signatories of the deal, France should avoid being influenced by the adventurous Salman and avoid listening to Riyadh’s repetitive and false claims against the deal,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said. (Reuters)
Iran sets single foreign exchange rate to rescue currency
Iran's currency, the rial, lost some 20% against the US dollar in two weeks as Iranians rushed to hedge against depreciation of their assets. Some fear an imminent collapse of the nuclear deal and return of economic sanctions.
"We are sitting idle watching numbers go up. You cannot do business when you start the day with one rate and end with another," Ismail Kazemi, an Iranian coffee importer, said in a phone call from his office in north Tehran.
"Best is to do nothing until the dust settles," he added.
In the foreign exchange market it has been more of a sandstorm for the past few weeks. The Iranian currency, the rial, lost 8% against the dollar in one day this week.
On Monday night the government stepped in, removing the discrepancy between the exchange rate used by traders - 60,000 rials to the dollar - and the official rate - previously 37,000. (BBC News)
Iranian oil projects have good break-evens, analysts say
The price for oil is well above the point where Iran can break even and production could flirt with 5 million barrels per day in three years, data show.
GlobalData, a data and analytics company, estimated Iran will spend more than $20 billion over the next three years to make sure production could approach 4.9 million barrels per day. The company forecast at least 38 conventional and nine heavy oil fields producing for Iran by 2021.
"The average development break-even price for oil projects in Iran is about $27.60 per barrel," GlobalData estimated in its emailed report.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was closer to $68 per barrel early Friday. (UPI)
Women of Iran
Iran's Nobel Laureate Is Done With Reform. She Wants Regime Change
Shirin Ebadi, Iran's Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, has had enough. For years she represented her country's dissidents in the Islamic Republic's corrupt courts. She spoke out for the rights of women, minorities and students abroad. But she never called for the end of the regime she was fighting to reform. Until now.
"Reform is useless in Iran," Ebadi told me in an interview Thursday. "The Iranian people are very dissatisfied with their current government. They have reached the point and realized this system is not reformable."
For Ebadi the means of ending Iranian tyranny should be a U.N.-monitored referendum on the constitution that proposes a basic change: the elimination of the unelected office of supreme leader. The Iranian people, she said, "want to change our regime, by changing our constitution to a secular constitution based on the universal declaration of human rights." (Bloomberg)
Minister Reveals Cyber Attack On Iranian Data Centers, Blames Foreign Hackers
Iran’s Telecommunications minister has criticized the government’s cyber-attack monitoring center for failing to detect an attack that led to the hacking of several Iranian data centers on the evening of April 6, despite a warning about the attack ten days before it took place.
Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi first said in a tweet Friday evening “Several Iranian data centers came under cyber attacks tonight. Some of the smaller routers have been changed to factory setting.”
Later, in another tweet, Jahromi claimed that MAHER, Persian acronym for the Computer-related Events Operation and Coordination Center, “Has monitored and controlled the attack and the data centers’ settings have been brought back to normal.” (Radio Farda)
Iran Threatens Israel Over Airstrike in Syria
A senior Iranian foreign policy official warned Israel on Tuesday that its strike on an air base in Syria that killed several Iranians would “not remain without a response,” the Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen reported.
Seven Iranian military personnel were killed on Monday in the strike on the Tiyas, or T4, air base near Homs, according to the Iranian news agency Tasnim. The semiofficial Fars news agency initially said that three were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the report was later withdrawn without explanation.
Syria, Iran and Russia have accused Israel of mounting the attack, though Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement. Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria in the past, some aimed at stopping what it says is a military buildup by Iran and its regional ally, Hezbollah, along the Syrian-Israeli border. (New York Times)
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu warns Iran over influence in Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Iran not to test his country’s resolve as Tehran builds up its military presence in neighboring Syria.
“Our policy can be summed up in three words: aggression against aggression,” Netanyahu said in a speech Wednesday on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day. "I have a message to the Iranian rulers — do not test the determination of the State of Israel."
Referring to Iran, he added: “Even today an extremist regime threatens us, threatening world peace. This regime explicitly declares that it intends to destroy us — the Jewish state.” (NBC News)
EU Extends Rights Sanctions on Iran, at Odds Over New Measures
The European Union extended sanctions on Iran over human rights violations on Thursday, as the bloc prepared for a clash over whether to impose a new set of penalties in the hope of safeguarding a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been a fierce critic of the 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran. He has given a May 12 deadline to fix it, threatening otherwise not to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran related to the agreement.
The EU is eager to safeguard the pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions for at least a decade, but divided over how to achieve that. (US News & World Report)
There’s more to Iran’s protests than you’ve been told
By: Ali Fathollah-Nejad
This week marks the 39th anniversary of the proclamation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the wake of what it calls the “Islamic Revolution” – a state-imposed Islamization of what had been a truly pluralistic revolution in 1977–79. At the turn of the year, triggered by economic hardships, Iran witnessed the most politicized protests in its almost four-decade-old history.
Reaching an unprecedented geographical scope, tens of thousands of mostly “middle-class poor” in their twenties – an urban precariat that is socioeconomically deprived but has middle-class aspirations and qualifications – took to the squares of mainly small cities to voice their anger.
This group of people was conventionally considered to be part of the regime’s social base. Just a week after the uprising broke out and covered all corners of the country, many of the media lost interest in their coverage, announcing a farewell in the wake of staged, pro-regime demonstrations that followed the eruption. However, due to the state’s myriad forms of repression and the lack of active involvement by other strata of society, popular rage was merely pushed below the surface where it has been simmering ever since. (NewsHour)