Iran Digest Week of May 18 - 25

Iran Digest

Week of May 18 - 25

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

Iran's leader: US pullout from nuclear deal leaves Trump 'lost in history'

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Iran’s supreme leader has said that American objections over the 2015 nuclear deal were a pretext for regime change, vowing that the US was bound to fail like “the famous cat in the Tom and Jerry” cartoon.
Speaking two days after the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran could restart the nuclear activities it halted under the agreement if Europe failed to safeguard the agreement after the US pulled out. (The Guardian)

US sanctions five Iranians over missile support to Houthis

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The U.S. hit five Iranian nationals with sanctions on Thursday for their roles in an alleged plan by Tehran to supply Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic missiles.
The Treasury Department said in a statement that it had sanctioned the individuals, who either helped transfer missiles to the Houthis or provided "ballistic missile-related technical expertise" on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. (The Hill)

Nuclear Accord

China, Germany to stay in Iran nuclear deal as Khamenei lists demands


In comments likely to frustrate the White House, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany and China will stand by the existing nuclear accord with Iran, even as the US has withdrawn and expects its European allies to follow suit.
Merkel made the statement during a joint news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Reuters has reported. (CNN)

Iran gives E.U. deadline to salvage nuclear deal

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Iran wants European powers to present it with measures by the end of May to compensate it for the United States abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior official said on Friday, adding that Tehran would decide within weeks whether to quit the accord.
The agreement between Iran and world powers lifted international sanctions on Tehran in return for it agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program. (NBC News)

Iran complying with nuclear deal, but could do better: IAEA

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Iran continues to comply with the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers despite the U.S. withdrawal, but could be faster and more proactive in allowing snap inspections, the U.N. atomic watchdog policing the accord said on Thursday.
In its first such report since U.S. President Donald Trump announced Washington’s pullout on May 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran remained within limits on the level to which it can enrich uranium, its stock of enriched uranium and other items. (Reuters)

No compromise in sight on Iran nuclear deal, Germany says

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Europe and the United States remain deeply divided over how to proceed after Washington’s exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday after back-to-back meetings with two senior U.S. officials.
Maas issued his sober assessment after a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying the two officials had restated their known positions, but no new information emerged.
“I think we’re still far away from a compromise,” said Maas, who met earlier with John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s new security adviser, who is known for his hawkish views. “We’re pursuing two completely different paths.” (Reuters)

Putin welcomes European efforts to save Iran nuclear deal

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President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia appreciated efforts by Europe to save the Iran nuclear deal despite the withdrawal of the United States and warned of “lamentable consequences” if it was not preserved.
Putin made the comment in a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, offering some support for the French leader’s plan for negotiating a broader agreement with Tehran to cover Iran’s ballistics program and its activities in the Middle East.
Macron met Putin seeking to win concessions on Syria, Iran and Ukraine after returning largely empty-handed from a state visit to the United States.  “Certainly we can discuss Iran’s ballistic missiles. We can discuss Iran’s policies in the Middle East and its nuclear activities after 2025,” Putin said.  (Reuters)

House Sends Clear Message: Trump Not Authorized To Use Military Force Against Iran

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J Street welcomes the House of Representatives’ unanimous, bipartisan adoption of an amendment to the 2018-2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which unequivocally states that the use of military force against Iran is not currently authorized by any act of Congress.
By explicitly stating that the administration does not now have congressional authorization for initiating military action against Iran, the House has set a clear marker at a vital time. In the wake of his violation and abandonment of the Iran nuclear agreement, the President and his ‘war cabinet’ are ratcheting up tensions and pushing our country down the path to another conflict in the Middle East. In the face of such a potential disaster it is vital that Congress speak out as they have today. (J Street)


How Iran Can Evade Sanctions This Time

By: Borzou Daragahi

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On paper, the 16 companies registered to the 15th-floor office-tower suite of a building in Hong Kong appeared indistinguishable from the thousands of humdrum firms operating within the glass-and-steel high-rises of the city. But according to the U.S. Treasury Department, all these firms, with names like True Honour Holdings and Alpha Effort Limited, were front companies for the Islamic Republic—creative attempts by Iran to evade sanctions on the purchase of military equipment, which were imposed on the country over its missile program back in 2011.
On May 8, President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal negotiated by Iran, the United States, and five other nations. That decision set off a scramble by Tehran to stave off the sanctions that would snap back into effect, as the United States began moving to reimpose them and bring other governments to heel. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised that the United States would apply “unprecedented financial pressure” through sanctions if Iran failed to curb its nuclear and weapons programs and rein in its regional meddling. (The Atlantic)