Week of May 25 - June 1
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.
Iran's Evin prison, Ansar-e Hezbollah face new US sanctions
Iran's notorious Evin prison and the paramilitary group Ansar-e Hezbollah have been hit with new US sanctions, for allegedly committing "serious human rights abuses" against its political dissidents and critics of the government.
In an announcement late on Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Steven T Mnuchin said the two entities, as well as six individuals and a communications technology agency, played a role in the "brutal crackdown" of demonstrators following the recent deadly protests in the country. (Al Jazeera)
U.S. withdrawal may halt nuclear nonproliferation work in Iran: diplomats
The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal have warned the United States that its decision to withdraw from the pact jeopardizes Russian and Chinese efforts to limit Iran’s ability to develop atomic weapons, Western diplomats told Reuters.
In pulling out of the 2015 deal, U.S. President Donald Trump triggered the revival of sanctions against the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), which oversees the Arak heavy water research reactor and the Fordow fuel enrichment plant. (Reuters)
China to Host Rouhani After US Withdrawal From Iranian Nuclear Deal
Amid current tensions between Washington and Tehran, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the forthcoming Eurasian Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting June 9-10 in Qingdao, China.
Analysts say Rouhani’s presence at the SCO conference will send a message that China is ready to fill the void left after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month. (VOA)
Iran gives French Oil Giant a Deadline for Choosing between its NatGas or Trump
Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday gave French energy giant Total 60 days to win a sanctions waiver from Washington or it would lose its stake in a multi-billion-dollar gas project.
“Total has 60 days to negotiate with the US government,” said Bijan Zanganeh, according to the oil ministry’s Shana news agency.
“The French government too can have negotiations with the US government during these 60 days for Total to stay in Iran.” (Juan Cole)
Lukoil puts Iran plans on hold due to threat of U.S. sanctions
Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer, said on Tuesday it had decided not to go ahead with plans to develop projects in Iran at the moment due to the threat of U.S. sanctions, a company official said.
The United States plans to impose new sanctions on Iran after pulling out of a 2015 agreement between Iran and major world powers to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Considering the latest developments, I guess, it’s too early to say what our plans (about Iran) will be. For the moment, basically, we have everything on hold,” the official told a conference call which followed publication of Lukoil’s first-quarter results on Monday. (Reuters)
For Iran trade, India may reach out to Europe
India will soon engage with European nations on measures to keep banking channels operative in order to protect Indian import of Iranian oil following the US decision to abandon the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic and reimpose sanctions.
An Indian delegation, comprising senior officials from the ministries of external affairs and petroleum, plans to visit key European capitals early June to get a sense of the continent’s preparedness to keep the nuclear deal alive after the American pull-out, and push for measures that would help shield trade with Iran, officials said. (India Times)
Iran to ban new high-water consumption industry in dry regions
Iran has long been faced with a wide range of environmental challenges. These include everything from drought leading to soil erosion and sandstorms to water shortages and air pollution in major cities. However, it has only been in recent years that officials and experts alike have publicly called for genuine measures to slow down the damage to the environment.
This spring, Reza Ardakanian, Iran’s energy minister, announced that the current Iranian year (which began March 21) would be the driest in the past 50 years. The reduction of rainfall in the country has been so significant that officials have repeatedly spoken of the possibility of water shortages in some parts of the country during the summer if consumption is not managed properly. Indeed, despite the recent rainfalls across Iran, official figures indicate that the rainfall in the current water-year is 41% lower than the previous Iranian year, and 59% lower than the average over the past 49 years. (Al-Monitor)
Iran School Sex-Abuse Scandal Unleashes a #MeToo Outpouring
Iranians sexually abused as children are sharing their experiences by co-opting the #MeToo hashtag, following a scandal at a Tehran school.
On Tuesday night Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced that he had instructed judges to hand down the strongest possible sentence if a supervisor is convicted on charges of raping or sexually abusing at least 16 boys at the school in the west of the capital. (Bloomberg)
Iran, Israel conduct indirect negotiations over Syria fighting: Report
Iran and Israel engaged in indirect negotiations this weekend over fighting in southwest Syria, according to a report on Saudi-owned news site Elaph.
Iran reportedly pledged to stay out of fighting in southwest Syria between Syrian forces and rebel groups while Israel said it will not intervene in battles near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights or the Israel-Jordan border so long as Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias are not involved. (Middle East Eye)
What Do Steel Tariffs Have to Do With Iran? Plenty
By: Melvyn Krauss
Europe’s temporary waiver from U.S. import quotas on steel and aluminum is about to expire, and most experts are pessimistic that a U.S.-EU trade war can be avoided. They can’t fathom a trade deal that would satisfy both U.S. President Donald Trump and European Union leaders — at least not a conventional trade deal.
But a conventional trade deal does not seem to be what the Trump White House really has in mind. Instead, it wants to exchange trade peace for foreign and security policy concessions. That’s a novel — and potentially fraught — way for an American president to do business with his closest allies. But in the short term, it might deliver some results that Trump can use to declare victory. (Bloomberg)