AIC Honorary Board Member in Daily News: "Correcting course on Iran"

AIC Honorary Board Member in Daily News:  "Correcting course on Iran"

Last week, Germany, France and Britain launched their own payment channel to help European companies bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. The channel, known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), is meant to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran and persuade the country to continue fulfilling its commitments to the nuclear deal. Our own intelligence agencies have once again confirmed Tehran’s full compliance with the agreement.

President Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran several months later, opening up a range of negative consequences for U.S. national interests. These consequences are now coming into clear view, shaping a future that carries serious national security implications.

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Trump’s economic war on Iran is doomed to failure

Trump’s economic war on Iran is doomed to failure

Originally published in The Guardian.

By AIC Board Member Sir Richard Dalton

The US has declared economic war on Iran: after having pulled out <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/08/iran-deal-trump-withdraw-us-latest-news-nuclear-agreement> of the UN security council-endorsed nuclear deal in May, the Trump administration is now unilaterally combating <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/05/iran-launches-military-drill-response-return-us-sanctions> the right of the rest of the world to engage in legal trade with the Islamic Republic.

This policy is based on the claim that Iran is a major security threat to the American people. But that is transparently exaggerated. And the statement by Mike Pompeo that sanctions will be used to ensure Iran “behaves like a normal country<https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/8/6/behave-like-a-normal-country-pompeo-tells-iran>” is unintentionally ironic.

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AIC Honorary Board Member to the National Interest: "Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies"

AIC Honorary Board Member to the National Interest: "Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies"

Originally published in the National Interest

by James Clapper & AIC Honorary Board Member Thomas Pickering

“Then there were none” was Agatha Christie’s most memorable mystery about a house party in which each guest was killed off one by one. Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran has resulted in much the same: a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program.

Dozens of states, painstakingly cultivated over decades of American leadership in blocking Iran’s nuclear capability, are now simply gone. One of America’s three remaining allies on these issues, Saudi Arabia, has become a central player in American strategy throughout the Middle East region. But the Saudis, because of the Jamal Khashoggi killing and other reasons, may have cut itself out of the action. The United Arab Emirates, so close to the Saudis, may also fall away.

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AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times & Mehr News

AIC Chairman Speaks with Tehran Times &amp; Mehr News

Q: According to some reports, Trump plans to oust Defense Secretary James Mattis after the congressional election. What are the reasons for this?

A: There are many reports that Mattis has, in effect, not followed the orders of the president.  Whether this is the real reason, or whether there is any animosity between the two is unknowable. The apparent relationship between them is friendly, but by most indications Mattis will be gone by the second term. 

Q: Why would Trump postpone this decision until after congressional elections? And how important are these elections for him?

A: Mattis is very well regarded by both democrats and republicans, so to fire him would be an unpopular thing and would probably be harmful to republicans in the midterm elections.  So, they would want to wait until after it, if he is to be fired.  

The congressional elections are very important for Trump because if the democrats take over then they have the power of investigation and the power of subpoena, and so, as frequently happens in American politics the party out of power may have the House, and therefore the ability to make life miserable for the president. 

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AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Sputnik News about the Nuclear Deal

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Sputnik News about the Nuclear Deal

Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary has said that in case of US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran will resume operation of its frozen nuclear facilities. Radio Sputnik discussed Iran nuclear deal with Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, founder of the American-Iranian Council and a professor of public policy at Rutgers University.

Sputnik: Now there has also been some talk of perhaps of re-negotiating the deal. How open is Iran to that kind of possibility and will Iran be open to any discussions?

Dr Hooshang Amirahmadi: I don’t know. Apparently they are saying no, but I do believe they will. In fact that has been my advice to Tehran from day one when Mr. Trump came on board. I told them that Mr. Trump is both a threat and an opportunity. That Tehran should take him in saying that I want to negotiate. After all, the very fact of negotiating with Mr. Trump would have been a positive move for Tehran, because that would have given them an opening to Mr. Trump’s mind and his people.

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AIC's President Speaks about "Iran's Perilous Choices" at the Brookings Doha Center

AIC's President Speaks about "Iran's Perilous Choices" at the Brookings Doha Center

Speech at the Brookings Institution Doha Center (BDC)
Doha, Qatar, February 26, 2018

By Hooshang Amirahmadi, Rutgers University

Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening! Let me begin by thanking the Brookings Doha Center for organizing this timely panel on Iran and for inviting me to share my thoughts on the subject with you.

The title of my talk is: Iran’s Perilous Choices: State Alteration or Societal Disruption

Unhappily, I must begin by saying that all is not well with Iran today: The nation faces formidable domestic challenges in economic, political, social and environmental spheres as well as tough external challenges, more notably in relations with the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Iran also faces a crisis of identity and confidence as it also faces an uncertain future. As things stand, the republic is neither Islamic, nor revolutionary or even nationalistic, and it has also lost confidence in its own future. 

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AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Tehran Times & Mehr News

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Tehran Times & Mehr News

AIC's Chairman Senator Johnston was recently interviewed by journalist Javad Heiran-Nia of the Tehran Times and Mehr News.  

The Tehran Times interview is copied below.  The Persian language version in Mehr News can be found here:   https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4208064

TEHRAN — Bennett Johnston, an American politician in the Democratic Party and lobbyist who represented Louisiana in the United States Senate is the current chairman of the American-Iranian Council. Mr. Johnston is of the opinion that under the present circumstances, neither the EU nor Iran would accept Trump’s new conditions that undermine the Iran nuclear contract. “We know that President Trump’s team – that is the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State publicly and strongly are in favor of the continuation of the agreement,” Johnston tells the Tehran Times. The Chairman of the American-Iranian Council also adds that “it is clearly not in the interest of the U.S. or Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA.” Following is the text of the interview:

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AIC's Emad Kiyaei Moderates Discussion with Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian at Hamilton College

AIC's Emad Kiyaei Moderates Discussion with Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian at Hamilton College

On Thursday, November 30th, 2017 former ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian discussed US-Iran relations and the JCPOA (otherwise known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal”) at an event at Hamilton College moderated by Emad Kiyaei. Pickering served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, and Jordan. Mousavian served as the Iranian Ambassador to Germany, Head of the Foreign Relations Committee on Iran’s National Security Council, General Director of the Foreign Ministry for West Europe, and as Iran’s spokesman during the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. Kiyaei is the Sol M. Linowitz Visiting Professor at Hamilton College, a principal at the IGD group, and a policy advisor to the AIC.

Photography courtesy of Nancy L. Ford

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AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Radio Farda

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Radio Farda

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi recently spoke with Radio Farda regarding US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's explanation of US policy towards Iran.  The audio is in Persian; the English translation is below.

Translated and transcribed by: Celine Aslinia

After meeting with his counterpart in New Delhi, India, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that America’s policy towards Iran had three axes:  “one was dealing with the nuclear agreement between Iran and 5 + 1 countries. The second important pillar of that policy is to deal with Iran’s other destabilizing activities.” The ‘destabilizing activities’ [Tillerson] mentioned included the manufacturing of ballistic missiles, procurement of weapons for terrorist groups, delivery of fighters to foreign countries, and intervention in Yemen, Syria, and other areas. [Tillerson continued], “And the third pillar - which does not get talked about much - is a support for moderate voices inside of Iran. We know there are strong feelings and values inside of Iran that we want to promote in terms of one day the Iranian people being able to retake control of their government.”

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The United States should stand by the Iran deal

The United States should stand by the Iran deal

Originally published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
By AIC's Honorary Board Member Thomas R. Pickering.  

President Donald Trump has taken the first step toward pulling the United States out of the international agreement that is preventing the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

With no factual basis, this decision looms like pure domestic politics over America’s international commitments and leadership. Trust is the coin of the realm in foreign affairs, and we have just begun to debase it in the eyes of much of the world. Who will make a deal with us if we can confect a reason out of thin air to pull out of our agreements? U.S. leadership is imperiled, especially in dealing with Iran and North Korea.

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"Towards a Nationism Political Thought"

"Towards a Nationism Political Thought"

By: AIC's President, Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

Please note: This is a summary of a paper to be presented at Cambridge University on November 1, 2017

The speech will start with the question: where does Iran stand today and what could happen to its future given the many forces at play, domestically and internationally? I will argue that the Iranian political system is at a standstill as the political Islam that guides it has lost its organizing and development potentials for real change. Iran is also facing the challenge posed by the Trump administration, who is hostile to its Islamic ideology and behavior. This is the case for a country in which no other serious ideas have emerged to challenge the establishment’s ideology. I will argue that the void can be filled by the nation-builder idea of “Nationism” (mellat garaei).

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Iran Chat: Interview with Celebrity Chef Ariana Bundy

Iran Chat: Interview with Celebrity Chef Ariana Bundy

Our latest Iran Chat is with Iranian-American celebrity chef Ariana Bundy.  Ariana is the award-winning author of two cookbooks, Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes and Sweet Alternative: More than 100 recipes without gluten, dairy and soy.  She is also the writer, director and star of the 8-part television series Ariana's Persian Kitchen, which airs on NatGeo People. Ariana's work has been featured in a variety of magazines like Food & Travel, Harper's Bazaar and Food & Wine Magazine; she has also appeared on television programs like BBC's Good Food Live, Euronews and Top Billing.  For more information about Ariana Bundy or to get some delicious recipe ideas, you can visit her website arianabundy.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.   

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AIC's Emad Kiyaei Talks about Entrepreneurship in Iran

AIC's Emad Kiyaei Talks about Entrepreneurship in Iran

AIC's Emad Kiyaei spoke with branding expert Brian Rashid about the tech scene in Iran in this 10 minute segment.

Some highlights are below:

On Iran's openness to external entrepreneurship in the country:

"Iran is very supportive of this.  Now, is it easy to get into Iran?  No, because of all of the regulations, especially for the Americans. The rest of the world has removed their sanctions to a large extent. I was recently in Iran and we couldn’t even stay in a hotel because there are so many delegations from Europe and Asia trying to get into literally the last frontier in an emerging market. So, whereas every other market has been saturated, Iran has a population of 80 million, a vast economy, with a huge market... wouldn’t you want to get into it? I would! If you are an entrepreneur you will have a bigger appetite for risk and if your product or service has a nuanced place in the Iranian market, there are ways to get in. Now, let me put in a little caveat. There are U.S. sanctions still in place on Iran so you have to be very careful. I am not saying just jump into the Iranian market. There are exemptions to the rules, and those can be identified. But as my lawyer would tell me right now, please consult your lawyer before you make any other moves."

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Amirahmadi Interview with Radio France (Persian Language)

Amirahmadi Interview with Radio France (Persian Language)

هوشنگ امیراحمدی استاد دانشگاه راتگرز آمریکا معتقد است که دونالد ترامپ و هیئت حاکمۀ جدید آمریکا قصد سازش با جمهوری اسلامی را ندارند و از هر فرصت و بهانه ایی که رهبران ایران در اختیار آنان بگذارند برای اعمال فشار بر حکومت این کشور استفاده می کنند. هوشنگ امیراحمدی همچنین می گوید : خطا است اگر رهبران تهران تصور کنند که دونالد ترامپ بلوف می زند. او می افزاید : خطر بسیار جدی است و رهبران ایران باید در پی راه حل حقیقی باشند...
دونالد ترامپ، رییس جمهوری آمریکا، در صفحۀ توئیترش نوشت که جمهوری اسلامی ایران با آتش بازی می کند و اینکه رهبران تهران متوجه نیستند که تا حد رییس جمهوری پیشین آمریکا، باراک اوباما، با آنان مهربان بوده است. دونالد ترامپ سپس تأکید کرده است که این "مهربانی" در قبال تهران شامل حال او نمی شود.
در پی هشدار رسمی دولت آمریکا علیه ایران پس از آزمایش اخیر موشکی این کشور، دونالد ترامپ به کارگیری گزینۀ نظامی را علیه حکومت اسلامی ایران منتفی ندانست.
هوشنگ امیراحمدی استاد دانشگاه راتگرز آمریکا معتقد است که دونالد ترامپ و هیئت حاکمۀ جدید آمریکا قصد سازش با جمهوری اسلامی را ندارند و از هر فرصت و بهانه ایی که رهبران ایران در اختیار آنان بگذارند برای اعمال فشار بر حکومت این کشور استفاده می کنند. هوشنگ امیراحمدی همچنین می گوید : خطا است اگر رهبران تهران تصور کنند که دونالد ترامپ بلوف می زند. او می افزاید : خطر بسیار جدی است و رهبران ایران باید در پی راه حل حقیقی باشند...

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President Trump’s Ban On Immigration From Iran Is Heartbreaking And Against US National Interest

President Trump’s Ban On Immigration From Iran Is Heartbreaking And Against US National Interest

By Stephanie Lester, Director of Operations
Originally published on the Huffington Post 

Since the 1979 revolution, the US and Iranian governments have always had their differences, but US policy has generally focused on opposing the government of Iran; not the Iranian people. With yesterday’s new blanket ban on immigration from Iran (one of seven Muslim-majority countries targeted), President Trump is going well beyond US precedent and taking steps directly against Iran’s population.

Even if banning entire countries were an effective way to fight terrorism (which it is not), the inclusion of Iran in this ban is extremely hard to justify. While the list does not include the countries of origin for the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks, it includes Iran because its government is a state sponsor of terror; not because of the actions of its citizens. In fact, not a single Iranian national has committed an act of terror against the US homeland

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Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about the Nuclear Deal with TRT World

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about the Nuclear Deal with TRT World

AIC's President, Dr. Amirahmadi, recently spoke with TRT World about the Iran Nuclear Deal.  

In this wide-ranging interview he describes how the Nuclear Deal didn't go far enough, how he doesn't believe Iran ever intended to produce a nuclear weapon, and how Iran is now in a "trap," which the Trump administration will exploit.  

He explains, "The official policy of the Trump administration [moving forward will be to] keep the deal as a trap for Iran, and then on the periphery, create trouble for Iran by adding more sanctions using human rights and terrorism and Israel as pretext to add more and more of the sanctions, forcing Iran into a situation where either it takes it or leaves. In either case Iran will be a loser. That is the concept of the trap.  I believe that is the official policy.  It is only unfortunate that Iran got itself into that trap, as opposed to opening up to a more comprehensive deal with the United States where everything was on the table, including the nuclear issue, but unfortunately that didn't happen and Iran is in the trap."

Watch the full video, including interview here.

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Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News Shares AIC's Article Debunking Common Myths about Iran

Fars News picked up our Director, Stephanie Lester's article in the Huffington Post last week, Debunking the Many Myths Americans Believe About Iran.  

Both the original Persian and English translation of the Fars News article are below.  For Ms. Lester's commentary in her original text/wording, please see the Huffington Post article.

افسانه‌های آمریکا درباره ایران نادرست است/ ایران نه تنها عقب مانده نیست بلکه کشوری دوست‌داشتنی است

به گزارش گروه بین‌الملل خبرگزاری فارس، خانم «استفنی لستر» مدیر شورای ایرانیان آمریکا در گزارشی  ضمن اشاره به سفر امن خود به ایران عنوان داشت: آمریکایی‌ها تمایل دارند ایران را به عنوان کشوری عقب مانده، فرو رفته در افراط‌گرایی و مخالف مدرنیته معرفی نمایند.

وی در ادامه با معرفی خود به عنوان زنی آمریکایی _یهودی که اخیرا به ایران سفر کرده و به تنهایی ده روز را آنجا سپری نموده، به یافته‌های خود که خلاف ادعاهای ضد ایرانی است اشاره کرده و نوشت: ایران کشور امن، زیبا با مردمانی مهمان نواز به ویژه با گردشگران آمریکایی است.

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AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Speaks with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston spoke with Mehr News about Trump and the Nuclear Deal. The article was originally published in Mehr News.

The interview in its original English, as well as the Persian translation, are below.  

Q:  During the presidential campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump claimed that President Obama gave too many points to Iran in the nuclear deal and said he would re-negotiate the deal.   What will Trump actually do?

A:  I don’t believe that Trump would actually renounce the agreement.  He may try to put on some additional sanctions (not under JCPOA but under other provisions), but I don’t believe he will renounce the agreement.

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Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks about Sanctions with TRT World

AIC's President, Dr. Amirahmadi, speaks about sanctions with TRTWorld.  

He explains that, "From the American side, almost ninety five percent of the American sanctions on Iran are still in place.  Americans only lifted sanctions related to nuclear programs on Iran.  So if you are a US entity, sanctions almost completely remain, except for certain areas where there are humanitarian issues, or if you are under license from the treasury department.  So, unfortunately from the US side, sanction relief remains very illusory, very little has happened."

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AIC's Stephanie Lester on the Huffington Post: Debunking Myths About Iran

AIC's Stephanie Lester on the Huffington Post: Debunking Myths About Iran

By Stephanie Lester, Director of Operations
Originally published on the Huffington Post

With the election of Donald J. Trump, now more than ever, it is important to separate truth from fiction, facts from opinion, and to question prejudices and misconceptions.  This directive applies in all areas of life, but perhaps no place on earth is more misunderstood, and worth a re-examination, than the country of Iran; particularly as U.S.-Iran relations enter a new phase of uncertainty.

On the whole, Americans tend to view Iran as a backward country, mired in extremism and averse to modernity. Anyone who travels there is considered crazy – or even suspicious.

I should know. I am a Jewish-American woman who recently traveled to Iran alone for 10 days with the express goal of proving that - contrary to expectation - the country is safe, beautiful, and welcoming to Americans.  Before my travel, I had to explain to friends and family that there are no roaming hordes of ISIS militants in Iran; upon my return, I had to convince members of U.S. Homeland Security that I was not a terrorist sympathizer during nearly two hours of detention and questioning. 

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