Friday, March 30, 2012

Eye on Iran: Website Keeps Track Of Businesses With Ties To Iran

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Top Stories

NY1: "Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and representatives from several peacekeeping agencies launched Thursday a website that aims to keep consumers informed of which companies do business with Iran. Currently, 13 foreign automakers are named, all of whom sell vehicles in Iran or do business with the country's military. De Blasio says Iran and its nuclear program poses a threat to the United States and Israel. 'New Yorkers should feel it's our responsibility to act, put pressure on these auto companies in every way we can, so that we'll ultimately affect the Iranian regime,' De Blasio said. 'It is just simply not right for an automobile manufacturer to sell its goods in support of this regime, the number state sponsor of terrorism, incredible human rights abuser, and a regime that is pursuing an illicit nuclear weapon,' said United Against Nuclear Iran President Mark Wallace."

NYDN: "Whoever said city public advocate was a punchless public post? Bill de Blasio, the current occupant of the sometimes-maligned elected office, said Thursday that one of the automakers on his new Iran 'watchlist' - Hyundai - announced it would stop doing business in the nuke-hungry country. De Blasio's website, which was reported exclusively by the Daily News in Thursday's editions, allows users to send social-media messages to pressure carmakers that turn a profit in Iran and also have a large market share in the U.S. He wants the companies to be forced to choose between America or a nation that has been secretive about a nuclear program many diplomats suspect is geared toward making nukes. De Blasio, who held a press conference about the site Thursday, said Hyundai was in talks to end sales of new cars in Iran before the watchlist hit the Web."

Reuters: "U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to determine by Friday that there will be enough oil in the world market to allow countries to cut imports from Iran, taking another step toward sanctioning those nations that do not, analysts and a congressional aide said. Obama is required by a sanctions law he signed in December to determine by March 30, and every six months after, whether the price and supply of non-Iranian oil are sufficient to allow consumers to 'significantly' cut their purchases from Iran. 'Every indication we have received... gives us every assurance that the president will make the determination that sanctions can proceed,' said a congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the indications had come from both the State Department and the Energy Department. The law allows Obama after June 28 to sanction foreign banks that carry out oil-related transactions with Iran's central bank and effectively cut them off from the U.S. financial system."

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Nuclear Program

NYT: "As American and European diplomats prepare for crucial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the White House finds itself caught in a bind: for the diplomatic effort to work, American officials say, the Iranian government must believe that President Obama is ready and willing to take military action. Yet tough talk, necessary as it might be for successful diplomacy, contributes to a sense that war may be unavoidable. And it masks the fact that Mr. Obama, and his military commanders, remain deeply worried about the consequence of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, either by Israel alone or a strike that could draw in the United States."

CNN: "Four Navy minesweepers will be on their way to the Persian Gulf within weeks as part of an effort to boost American military capability in the region amid rising tensions with Iran, a Navy official says. The minesweepers will be loaded onto cargo ships leaving the United States in late April, according to the Navy official. The deployments were publicly confirmed by Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, earlier this month in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee."


Reuters: "Iran's oil revenue could halve. Top buyers are moving to cut imports of crude from the Islamic Republic amid a coordinated effort by the West to tighten sanctions. If Tehran has to sell the oil it does manage to shift at a discount, it may soon face the pinch. The republic generated $100 billion in oil revenue last year, assuming exports of 2.5 million barrels per day and an average Brent price of $111 per barrel. That is roughly 20 percent of GDP and 80 percent of general government revenue, based on estimates by the International Monetary Fund for 2011. Sanctions could cut Iran's oil exports by as much as 1 million barrels per day, or 40 percent, from the middle of the year, according to the International Energy Agency... A Reuters poll forecasts the average price of Brent in 2012 at $115 per barrel. If Iran has to offer a 20 percent discount on top of that price and was still only able to sell 1.5 million barrels a day, then revenues would halve, shrinking by $50 billion."

Reuters: "Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million... The source named the Chinese buyer as Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a state-run company hit by U.S. sanctions in January. A Zhuhai Zhenrong spokeswoman said: 'I've never heard about this.' She declined further comment."

Bloomberg: "Iran and its leading oil buyers, China and India, are finding ways to skirt U.S. and European Union financial sanctions on the Islamic republic by agreeing to trade oil for local currencies and goods including wheat, soybean meal and consumer products. India, the second-biggest importer of Iran's oil, has set up a rupee account at a state-owned bank to settle as much as much as 45 percent of its bill, according to Indian officials. China, Iran's largest oil customer, already settles some of its oil debts through barter, Mahmoud Bahmani, Iran's central bank governor, said Feb. 28. Iran also has sought to trade oil for wheat from Pakistan and Russia, according to media reports from the two countries. The trend is growing, sanctions specialists and U.S. officials say, and is denying the Islamic Republic hard currency to prop up the plummeting value of the rial and to fund nuclear and missile programs."

Reuters: "Turkey will reduce the amount of oil it buys from Iran by around 10 percent, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday, a week after Washington warned Iran's customers they could be subject to U.S. sanctions unless they significantly cut purchases. Turkey will partly replace the oil with 1 million metric tonnes it expects to buy from Libya, Yildiz told reporters... Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, representing 30 percent of its total imports and more than 7 percent of Iran's oil exports... Turkey's sole refiner Tupras, a unit of Koc Holding, said in a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange that it would cut its purchases of Iranian crude by 20 percent. Tupras is the main Turkish customer, currently buying some 30 percent of its crude oil from Iran, and it has an 9 million tonnes annual purchase contract."

WSJ: "Turkey's largest mobile-phone operator said it had filed suit against South Africa's MTN Group Ltd., seeking $4.2 billion in damages related to the award of a license in Iran. In a suit filed in the U.S., Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetlera said MTN made improper payments to an Iranian and to a South African government official between 2004 and 2005 to enable the company to secure a license to operate in Iran... United Against Nuclear Iran, a U.S. lobbying group, has sought to persuade foreign businesses to leave Iran. The group in January sent a letter to MTN Chief Executive Sifiso Dabengwa calling for the company to pull out of the country, saying MTN's technology is being used by Iran's government to locate and track mobile-phone users. MTN has responded that interception equipment is installed in all countries where the company operates. 'What the government decides to do with that equipment is not in our hands,' Mr. Dabengwa said."

FP: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has no intention of entering into negotiations that would allow senators to offer amendments to the Iran sanctions bill facing the Senate, according to his communications director Adam Jentleson. On Wednesday, Reid attempted to bring up the bring up the Johnson-Shelby Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012 for Senate passage by unanimous consent (UC), meaning there would be no debate and no chance for senators to offer amendments. Reid claimed there was no time to consider amendments. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the move by objecting to the unanimous consent request because he wanted to offer an amendment to the legislation. Several other senators from both parties also said Wednesday they wanted to offer amendments. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called publicly for Reid to allow a vote on an amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who caucuses with the Democrats, called on Reid to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow a package of amendments to the bill to include a bill he is co-sponsoring with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA)."

Human Rights

JPost: "While Israeli couple Ronny Edri and Michal Tamir made global headlines this week with their 'Israel loves Iran' Facebook campaign, Iranians face increasingly aggressive crackdowns on internet use as the Islamic Republic ramps up its attempts to control information and quash dissidents. This month, watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RWB) named Iran as the '2012 enemy of the internet,' and US President Barack Obama accused the Islamic Republic of creating an 'electronic curtain' cutting off Iranians from the outside world... US-based non-profit advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) says Iran also conducts surveillance against web surfers with sophisticated technologies purchased from international companies. Earlier this week, UANI slammed Chinese telecom giant ZTE for selling an advanced surveillance system to Tehran, which it says enables the Islamic Republic to monitor citizens' voice and text messaging as well as internet communications. UANI spokesman Nathan Carleton told The Jerusalem Post that companies like ZTE risk contributing to human rights violations in Iran. 'Any responsible company should pull out of Iran and eliminate the possibility of the regime misusing its technology to track, monitor, and oppress dissidents,' he said."

Foreign Affairs

NYT: "After being wrongly maligned as 'assassins' in a Reuters news report last month, female ninjas in Iran may have found the pen momentarily mightier than the sword. But as Reuters discovered after correcting the report, the heavy hand of government can be even stronger in Iran. The news agency said Thursday that officials had suspended the press credentials of its entire staff in Iran over errors in a Feb. 16 video report on Iranian women trained in the ancient Japanese martial art of Ninjutsu."

Opinion & Analysis

Clifford May in NRO: "The dictionary defines diplomacy as the 'art and practice of conducting negotiations,' but one incisive wag said diplomacy is really 'the art of saying 'nice doggie' till you can find a rock.' So who has the stones required to stop Iran's rulers from acquiring the nuclear weapons they need, not for deterrence as their apologists claim, but to escalate their war against Israel, America, and the West? The United States does, but President Obama is not eager to utilize them. That's understandable: Americans are war-weary. But if Iran's rulers do acquire nuclear weapons on Obama's watch, and if that leads to a 21st century that becomes bloodier than the 20th was, history will not judge him kindly. It is possible that Israelis will do the job others don't want to do. Obama, in his AIPAC remarks, at least recognized the legitimacy of their concerns, acknowledging that 'no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel's destruction.' Israelis would like nothing better than to resolve this conflict diplomatically. But Iran's rulers refuse even to talk with the leaders of the tiny Jewish state. Their intransigence is seldom noted, much less criticized, by those most enthusiastic about the possibility of a diplomatic solution. Between diplomacy and warfare lie economic sanctions. Israeli leaders have long been strongly supportive of the increasingly tough measures produced by the U.S. Congress on a bipartisan basis and signed by Obama. Europeans, too, have imposed stiff sanctions. But sanctions - and diplomacy and warfare, too, actually - are means, not ends. No one with a lick of sense backs sanctions because they are confident sanctions will work - with 'work' defined as causing Iran's rulers to decide to forgo the most effective weapon ever invented (by infidels, of course) to project power. So what's the point? For one, sanctions, and the continuing debate they provoke, serve to remind the 'international community' of the threat Iran's theocrats pose. Second, it's always useful to weaken one's enemies, and sanctions - in particular the new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and expelling Iran from the SWIFT international electronic banking system - have been enfeebling Iran's oil-based economy. Finally, should more kinetic measures be used to stop Iran's nuclear-weapons program, it will be vital for sanctions to be in place - and remain in place - during whatever diplomatic palaver may follow. Opponents of sanctions and more forceful measures don't get this. They argue that diplomacy can still succeed - despite decades of failed outreach to Iran's rulers by both Americans and Europeans. They further argue that sanctions are an impediment to diplomacy. Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, wrote recently that 'the United States cannot hope to bargain with a country whose economy it is trying to disrupt and destroy.' The Iranians, she added, 'cannot be nudged into a constructive negotiating process by measures that exacerbate their vulnerability.' She has it exactly backwards, as anyone who has ever been involved in any negotiation should recognize. If we want Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to stop doing what they are doing - e.g., building nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists, threatening their neighbors, oppressing their own people - we have to do more than 'nudge' them. We have to offer them something of great value. What would Maloney have us put on the table other than an end to sanctions and no use of force - or no further use of force? What else does she imagine they would accept in exchange for giving up the chance to possess the weapons they see as key to achieving the goals of Iran's Islamic Revolution, which include dominance of the Middle East in the short run, and 'a world without America' eventually, with the extermination of Israeli men, women, and children somewhere along the way?"

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons. UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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