Iran Digest Week of April 28 - May 4

Iran Digest

Week of April 28 - May 4

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

Israel Says Secret Files Detail Iran’s Nuclear Subterfuge

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Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran on Monday of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.
Days before President Trump was to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Netanyahu presented records from a secret warehouse in Tehran, making the case that Iranian leaders had deceived the international nuclear agency when they insisted their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Israeli spies seized the documents in an overnight raid in January, a senior Israeli official said. (New York Times)

Iran on Trump's nuclear decision: If the US leaves, there's 'no deal left'

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In the first major interview by a representative of the Iranian government since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's broadside on the Iran nuclear deal, Iran's Ambassador to the UK told CNN that if the United States pulls out of the agreement, "it means that there is no deal left."
"The consequence would be that Iran would in fact be ready to go back to the previous situation," Hamid Baeidinejad told Christiane Amanpour in London on Wednesday. (CNN)

US-Iran Relations

Leader: US provoking certain states to confront Iran


Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the US is instigating Saudi Arabia and certain other regional countries to start a confrontation with Iran. 
"The Americans are trying to provoke the Saudis and certain countries in the region and pit them against the Islamic Republic but if they have wisdom, they should not be deceived by the United States," the Leader said on Monday. 
His remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia where he called for unity among the Persian Gulf  countries, deeply divided over Qatar, in order to face Iran.
"The Americans do not want to suffer the cost of confronting the Islamic Republic and the powerful nation of Iran themselves; they want to make some states in the region shoulder it," the Leader told a group of workers and entrepreneurs in Tehran ahead of Labor Day. (PressTV)

Hopefully, the typos don't kill us all

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It was a letter -- a single character -- that could cause an international incident.
The White House statement was apparently supposed to say "Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program."
Which is a lot different than what was actually sent out: "Iran HAS a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program." (Emphasis mine.)
Big difference! It was explained away as a "clerical error," which is fair enough. We all make mistakes and no journalist, in this era of reduced copy desks, should be sanctimonious about typos. (CNN)


IMF official backs Iran's move to unify rial exchange rates

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Iran’s decision last month to unify official and free-market exchange rates to support the rial “is a step that goes in the right direction,” an International Monetary Fund official said.
The rial has lost almost half its value since September, partly due to fears of a return of economic sanctions if U.S. President Donald Trump carries out his threat to exit a nuclear deal with Tehran.
Iranian authorities last month said they were unifying official and free-market exchange rates for the rial in favor of a single rate of 42,000 against the U.S. dollar. (Reuters)

Iranians launch banknote protest to get round censorship

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A group of Iranian Twitter users are spreading protest messages by writing slogans on banknotes.
"Banknotes are our un-censorable messengers," one user wrote, referring to a rumoured plan to permanently block the popular messaging app Telegram, which is by far the most popular digital communication tool in Iran.
Slogans included "I am an overthrower".
Some of the sayings were originally chanted during mass anti-establishment protests at the turn of the year. (BBC News)

Women of Iran

Disguised women sneak into Iranian football match

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Several Iranian women have caught people's attention by revealing the lengths they go to to attend a football match.
Donning beards and wigs, they disguised themselves as men so they could watch their team, Persepolis, play rivals Sepidrood at the Azadi stadium in Tehran last Friday.
Images of the women at the stadium have been widely shared on both Persian and English social media. (BBC News)

Inside Iran

Iran bans Telegram as sanctions deadline looms

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Iran has banned all use of the popular Telegram messaging app.
The ban had been introduced to protect "national security", said a statement aired on state television.
It is believed the ban is connected to protests expected on 12 May if US President Donald Trump re-imposes sanctions on Iran.
Iranian authorities have complained before about the way Telegram has been used by anti-government groups to organise rallies and protests.
State television programmes in Iran said the ban had been prompted by "various complaints" against Telegram by Iranians and the demands of the nation's security services to "confront" its illegal activities. (BBC News)

Regional Politics

Morocco cuts ties with Iran over Sahara weapons dispute

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Morocco severed relations with Iran Tuesday, accusing the Mideast country of providing funds, training and weapons to Polisario Front independence fighters in the disputed Western Sahara.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said he spoke with his Iranian counterpart to officially end ties between the two countries. Morocco’s ambassador already has departed Tehran, while the Iranian Embassy in Morocco will be closed “immediately,” Bourita told reporters in Rabat.
He said Morocco obtained and verified proof that Iran-backed Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah has provided training and financial support to Polisario fighters since 2016. Last month, Hezbollah allegedly sent its first supply of weaponry to the Polisario, prompting Morocco’s decision to cut ties, Bourita said. (Washington Post)


Trump’s Middle Ground on Iran Deal Sanctions Waivers Is a Myth

By: Richard Nephew

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The 2015 nuclear agreement between the United States, Iran, and other world powers is an enormously complicated document. Reading through and interpreting the interlocking series of steps, commitments, and expressions of intent takes considerable effort. Though this is perhaps an inevitable outcome of pairing topics as devilishly detailed as nuclear proliferation and economic sanctions, the result has still been the spread of various myths about the deal’s terms and obligations.
Two in particular have emerged in recent weeks, tied to speculation over whether U.S. President Donald Trump will make good on his threat to terminate the sanctions waivers that undergird U.S. commitments under the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May. These misconceptions hold that terminating the waivers would not constitute a breach of the agreement, or could be presented that way, and that reapplication of U.S. sanctions covered by the waivers would not constitute U.S. withdrawal from the deal. (Foreign Policy Magazine)