Iran Digest Week of March 29-April 5

Iran Digest Week of March 29-April 5

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 Associate Michel Gomes 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

Iranian Red Crescent says US sanctions impeding flood relief


Iranian towns and villages have been hit with floods for a second straight week as officials trade accusations over their response efforts. Meanwhile, the Iranian Red Crescent is complaining that US sanctions are impeding aid efforts.

The southwestern province of Lorestan is the latest area to be hit by flooding. Iranians on social media shared videos and pictures from today, April 1, showing homes swept away by the floods, blocks of homes completely immersed in water, and collapsed bridges. One viral video showed a home under water up to its roof. (Al-Monitor)

International Red Cross Denies It Spoke Of U.S. Sanctions Impeding Aid To Iran


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has denied remarks attributed to its president by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, about U.S. sanctions impeding flood relief assistance.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Ignatius Ivlev-Yorke, public relation officer of ICRC said that the president of the organization Peter Maurer never mentioned any specific country when he spoke at the UN on April 1.

Zarif had claimed in a tweet Aril 2 that Mr. Maurer told the UN Security Council U.S. sanctions are preventing the Iranian Red Crescent from providing effective relief assistance to the victims of two-week-long floods, which have brought unprecedented destruction to many regions in Iran.

Ivlev-Yorke said that ICRC is concerned about sanctions affecting assistance in general, but Maurer did not mention any specific country or a specific case at the UN. (Radio Farda)

Nuclear Accord

U.N. nuclear watchdog inspects Iran 'warehouse' Netanyahu pointed to - sources


In a speech at the United Nations in September Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the deal, called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

Netanyahu argued the warehouse showed Tehran still sought to obtain nuclear weapons, despite its 2015 pact with world powers to curb its nuclear programme in return for a loosening of sanctions. (Reuters)


5 obstacles to Khamenei’s call for ‘boost in domestic production’

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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says this is the Iranian year for “boosting production.” This is a welcome slogan for an economy facing numerous challenges, particularly unemployment and pressure on its export performance due to external sanctions. There is no doubt that an expansion of domestic production capacities would have a positive impact on the Iranian economy. However, when looking at some of the realities of how the country’s economic activities are governed, it becomes clear that the planned increase in production is easier said than done. (Al-Monitor)

Three importers cut Iran oil shipments to zero: U.S. envoy


Three of eight importers granted waivers by Washington to buy oil from Iran have now cut their shipments to zero, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, adding that improved global oil market conditions would help reduce Iranian crude exports further.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump last May withdrew the country from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers, accusing it of supporting terrorism and conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

While the United States has set a goal of completely halting Iran’s oil exports, it granted temporary import waivers to China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea to ensure low oil prices and no disruption to the global oil market. (Reuters)


Iran orders evacuations in Khuzestan amid flood risk


Iran has ordered the evacuation of about 70 villages in the south-western province of Khuzestan due to a growing risk of floods, state media report.

At least 45 people have died in the past two weeks after heavy rains, with flooding affecting at least 23 of the country's 31 provinces.

The orders come as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused US sanctions of impeding aid efforts to affected areas.

"This isn't just economic warfare; it's economic terrorism," Mr Zarif tweeted. (BBC)

Inside Iran

Iranian MPs debate parliamentary elections at provincial level


As Iran returns to business after the Nowruz holidays, lawmakers are resuming discussions on a controversial draft motion that has the potential to alter parliamentary politics.  

The proposed bill, which was first brought to the floor by 120 parliamentarians last November, calls for parliamentary elections to be held at provincial levels. At present, constituencies commonly cover towns and cities. The draft motion proposes that individuals who run for parliament must first obtain 15-20% of votes in their town or city. They then must again run at the provincial level, where they need to receive the highest number of votes to gain entry to the legislature. Another article of the motion stipulates that apart from individual candidates running for office, political parties can also publish and promote lists of candidates. (Al-Monitor)

  Regional Politics

Saudi Arabia pledges $1 bln for Iraq at start of economic visit


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will provide Iraq $1 billion to build a sports city, state television said on Wednesday, the start of two-day visit to Iraq by high-level Saudi officials aimed at boosting ties.

Riyadh has been wooing Baghdad as part of an effort to stem the growing regional influence of Iran, while Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with its southern neighbor.

A Saudi economic delegation that includes the energy and investment ministers arrived in Iraq on Wednesday for the second Saudi-Iraq coordination council meeting, an initiative launched in 2017 to upgrade diplomatic relations. (Reuters)

Iran Calls The Latest Arab Summit 'More Positive' Than In The Past

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman has welcomed the Arab League’s support for Syria’s territorial integrity, related to Golan Heights but has rejected parts of a statement Arab leaders issued at their summit in Tunis.

Bahram Ghasemi (Qassemi) told reporters on April 1 that Iran “has carefully reviewed developments” in the Arab summit on March 31, which condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

According to government-controlled ISNA news outlet, Ghasemi said, “The approach and the atmosphere of the Arab League summit was more positive than previous meetings” and the reason according to Ghasemi was “the wise and constructive management” of the host country Tunis. (Radio Farda)


Here’s How the United States Can Help Iran's Flood Recovery


By: Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

Over the last two weeks, Iran has been ravaged by unprecedented floods, resulting in over 60 deaths and the devastation of whole communities. The natural disaster has only added to the the country’s woes, already reeling from an economic crisis brought about in part by the reimposition of the Trump administration’s decision to reimpose secondary sanctions in November 2018. The coincidence of tightening sanctions and a major natural disaster has led for calls for the Trump administration to take steps to ensure that sanctions policies do not unduly interfere with relief efforts. In the aftermath of the 2003 Bam Earthquake, the Bush administration established new licenses to ensure that the program of then-expanding US sanctions would not stymie relief efforts in Iran, which even came to include the dispatch of American search-and-rescue teams. In 2012, the Obama administration took similar steps to ensure financial aid could reach Iran in the aftermath of yet more devastating earthquakes. (Bourse & Bazaar)