Iran Digest Week of July 12 - July 19

Iran Digest Week of July 12 -July 19

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 Communications Associate Zaynab Siddiqui. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.  

US-Iran Relations

Iran, US clash over claim that US downed Iranian drone

Iran and the United States emphatically disagreed Friday over Washington’s claim that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf. American officials said they used electronic jamming to bring down the unmanned aircraft, while Iran said it simply didn’t happen.

Neither side provided evidence to prove its claim.

At the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump said flatly of the Iranian drone: “We shot it down.” (Time)

Iran FM met Rand Paul to feel out possible US-Iran talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) in New York July 18 to feel out prospects for possible discussions between Iran and the United States, a non-government expert in contact with the Iranian team told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

The Iranian mission to the UN did not respond to Al-Monitor queries on the meeting. Zarif told reporters in New York Thursday that he was holding meetings while in New York this week with some members of Congress, but not with US administration officials or envoys. He would leave it to the US lawmakers he met with to identify themselves if they wish, he told UN reporter Susan Modaress.

The US administration was aware of a possible meeting between a US Senator and Zarif in New York, a US official said Wednesday. Paul was not acting as an official US envoy, Al-Monitor understood. (Al-Monitor)

Nuclear Accord

Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions

Iran has offered a deal with the US in which it would formally and permanently accept enhanced inspections of its nuclear programme, in return for the permanent lifting of US sanctions.

The offer was made by the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to New York. But it is unlikely to be warmly received by the Trump administration, which is currently demanding Iran make a range of sweeping concessions, including cessation of uranium enrichment and support for proxies and allies in the region.

Zarif insisted, however, that his offer was “a substantial move”. (The Guardian)

Iran calls for concrete steps from Europe to save nuclear deal

The four-year anniversary of the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, passed on July 14. But with the accord nearing collapse due to the US exit from the deal in May 2018, Iranian officials who had pinned their political futures on the landmark nonproliferation agreement would have preferred the day to go by unnoticed. 

With the reimposition of US sanctions, Iran has slowly reduced its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA, most notably announcing that they will increase beyond the 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of low-enriched uranium stockpile and beyond 3.67% enrichment. The United Kingdom, France and Germany (E3) have attempted to salvage the deal, though with little success so far. (Al-Monitor)

Putin and Macron call for efforts to save Iran deal: Kremlin

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and French leader Emmanuel Macron agreed Thursday on the need to "consolidate efforts" to save the Iran nuclear deal following months of soaring tensions, the Kremlin said.

In a phone call, Putin and Macron agreed the Iran deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was an "important factor in ensuring security in the Middle East and maintaining a non-proliferation regime," the Kremlin said in a statement.

"Both sides stressed the advisability of consolidating efforts of all countries that are interested in preserving the Comprehensive Plan," it added. (AFP)


Iran to export $5b of gas, electricity to Iraq by March 2020

According to the Secretary General of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber Seyed Hamid Hosseini, if Iraq agrees it is possible for Iran to barter necessary goods in return for the gas and electricity revenues, however Iraq’s central bank should cooperate in this regard.

“Despite the agreement reached between the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and the Iraqi foreign minister, the Iraqi Central Bank has not yet taken necessary measures,” Hosseini added.

The official further mentioned Iran’s technical and engineering projects in Iraq, saying that development projects in the country which were halted due to terrorist activities and financial issues, are also resumed.

“In the wake of expert-level sessions held between Iraqi Housing Ministry and Iran Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organization (ISIPO), it is stipulated that Iranian projects halted in Iraq will resume," he said. (Tehran Times)

Inflation runs rampant in Tehran as Iran’s government struggles to stem rising food prices

As U.S. sanctions on Iran extend into a second year, Iranian citizens are paying the price with skyrocketing costs and food shortages.

Jafar Ghaffari, a cook in Tehran, is one of the many Iranians struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food. He says prices have increased by 50% to 100% in the last year.

Ghaffari says his weekly shopping trip, which cost him 7 million rials [$50] just three months ago, now costs him 14 million rials ($100) a week, nearly half the average Iranian’s salary. (CNBC)

Women of Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe being transferred to psychiatric hospital raises hopes for release, husband says

The husband of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran has said her transfer to a hospital psychiatric ward raises hopes of her being released. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport while travelling with their young daughter in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said she was transferred from Evin prison on Monday to the psychiatric ward of Iman Khomeini hospital, in Tehran, where she is being held under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. (The Telegraph)

Inside Iran

Iranians Use More Than Two Tons Of Narcotics Every Day

Iranians use more than two metric tons of narcotic drugs per day, a member of Majles (Iran’s parliament) has cited the head of Drug Control Headquarters (DCH), Eskandar Momeni as saying.

The spokesman of parliament's judicial and legal committee, Hassan Norouzi disclosed on Sunday, July 14, that the DCH head told members of parliament about the high rate of narcotics use in the country.

Last year, Iran’s interior minister said that 3 percent of the country’s population is addicted to drugs, mostly heroin. On international scale this is a high number, but not one of the highest in the world. But if the age group is narrowed to 15-64 year olds, the percentage jumps to 5.4. (Radio Farda)


On Preventing War With Iran, Congress Finally Listens To The American People

By: Kate Kizer

In Washington, there’s a common refrain that regular Americans don’t care about foreign policy. Yet a flurry of activity in the House of Representatives, during debate over the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), may prove otherwise, particularly on matters of war and peace. 

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on and passed some of the most progressive foreign policy measures in years. From repealing the outdated 2002 Iraq war authorization to banning U.S. military support and bombs for the war in the Yemen, the House NDAA did much to begin reversing the United States’ over-militarized foreign policy. In addition to rebuking the longstanding bipartisan consensus for a military-first approach to foreign affairs, the House also foreclosed the prospect of yet more endless U.S. war abroad by rejecting an unauthorized war with Iran. (LobeLog)