Iran Digest Week of September 14 - 21

Iran Digest

Week of September 14 - 21

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 dismisses U.S. offer of talks, says Washington broke last deal


Iran hit back at a U.S. offer of negotiations on Thursday, saying Washington had violated the terms of the last big deal they agreed, the 2015 nuclear accord.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of that nuclear accord - which curbed Iran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief - in May, saying it did not go far enough.

The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on Wednesday that Washington now wanted to negotiate a treaty that included Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its regional behavior. (Reuters)

Pompeo blasts Kerry's Iran meetings as 'beyond inappropriate'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted his predecessor John Kerry for "unseemly and unprecedented" behavior after Kerry said he had met Iranian officials since leaving office.

"What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department Friday.

"This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world's largest state sponsor of terror and according to him, he was talking to them, he was telling them to wait out this administration,' Pompeo added. (CNN)

Trump administration disowns Haley’s plan for a U.N. meeting on Iran


The Trump administration is disowning a plan presented by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for President Trump to hold a meeting at the United Nations next week focused on Iran, according to diplomats familiar with the planning.

Haley had announced that Trump would chair a meeting on the world’s biggest diplomatic stage to “address Iran’s violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region.”

The United States will decide the agenda for the Security Council meeting, a centerpiece of the annual United Nations General Assembly, because it holds the council’s rotating chair for the month of September. It will be Trump’s first time brandishing the U.N. gavel at a table of officials representing the world’s most powerful nations. (Washington Post)

White House Threatens Iran With Retaliation Over Militant Attacks


The Trump administration has signaled a new phase in its confrontation with Iran, threatening to retaliate for attacks by Iranian-backed militants in Iraq, even as it moves to avoid a potentially messy public split with allies over President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Days after rocket strikes near American diplomatic facilities in Baghdad and Basra, the White House blamed Shia militia groups on Wednesday and said, “Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons.”

The statement came two weeks before Mr. Trump and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, are both scheduled to attend the yearly meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, and it underscores Mr. Trump’s determination to raise pressure on the Iranian leadership. (New York Times)


Iran Rant Reveals How Powerless It Really Is in OPEC: Julian Lee


Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh’s threat to veto any OPEC decision that harms the Islamic Republic will have no impact on oil supply and will be ignored by those producers who are able to boost their oil production, just as happened in 2011, writes Bloomberg oil strategist Julian Lee.

Zanganeh is right to say that the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, which will meet in Algeria on Sunday, does not have the authority to make any decision on a new production agreement. Its job is to oversee the implementation of an existing deal, reached in 2016 with a group of non-OPEC countries, to cut supply by around 1.8 million barrels a day to reduce excess stockpiles of oil. (Bloomberg)

VW rejects Trump envoy's take on Iran pullout


Carmaker Volkswagen AG rejected on Thursday a report suggesting it had decided against doing business in Iran after coming under pressure from Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany, saying its position on the country had not changed.

U.S. sanctions against Iran, introduced by President Trump after his decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, have forced companies in Germany and across Europe to reconsider their investments there.

Ambassador Richard Grenell has appeared to take credit for this shift in a series of tweets and interviews over the past weeks, announcing the withdrawal of German blue chips like Siemens (SIEGn.DE), BASF (BASFn.DE) and now Volkswagen, to the surprise of the companies themselves. (Reuters)

India to reduce oil from Iran ahead of US sanctions: report


India's government will cut imports of oil from Iran by nearly half for the months of September and October as Iran faces U.S. sanctions from the Trump administration set to be implemented in November.

Reuters reported that India's oil ministry informed companies to prepare for a drastic reduction of oil imports from Iran come November, possibly reducing imports from the country down to zero.

Indian officials, who are still negotiating with U.S. counterparts, told the news outlet that the country hopes to secure waivers to allow some imports of Iranian oil to continue amid the sanctions. (The Hill)

Regional Politics

Iran and Israel call each other nuclear threats, ask U.N. to take action


Iran asked the United Nations to condemn what it described as Israeli nuclear threats against it on Thursday, while Israel said it was stepping up security around its atomic sites as a precaution against threats from Tehran and its regional allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to a secretive Israeli atomic reactor in August to warn the country’s enemies that it has the means to destroy them, in what appeared to be a reference to its assumed nuclear arsenal.

“The United Nations’ members should not turn a blind eye to these threats and must take firms actions to eliminate all Israeli nuclear weapons,” Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshrou said in letters to the U.N. secretary general and the security council, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. (Reuters)


Iran likely to divide Trump from allies at UN gathering

By  Nahal Toosi, David M. Herszenhorn and Matthew Karnitschnig


Donald Trump sees next week’s main session of the United Nations General Assembly as a chance to condemn Iran for spreading what he’s called “chaos and terror” through the Middle East.

But many key U.S. allies will likely use the global forum to present Trump himself as a threat to world peace.

The result could be an unusually combative gathering at an annual forum meant to promote harmony among world leaders.

“It’s not going to be a pleasant conversation,” predicted Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council.

Trump’s expected barbs against Iran in New York also come with political risk — and potential rewards: Talking tough on Tehran will please Trump’s Republican base, as well as Israel and some Arab states. But the broader reaction could expose how isolated Trump is on the world stage, especially after he unilaterally quit the Iran nuclear deal this spring. (Politico)