Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eye on Iran: Prospects for Nuclear Talks with Iran Dim

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WashPost: "Four weeks after agreeing in principle to nuclear talks, Iran has gone silent about its plans for the negotiations, baffling U.S. and European diplomats while also signaling internal discord over what analysts on both sides see as the best chance in years for a nuclear bargain with the West. Prospects for the talks - which U.S. officials last month described as imminent - have grown more uncertain after Iran declined to respond to at least two proposals for meeting dates, Western diplomats said. Iranian and European Union officials discussed logistical issues by phone on Monday amid hopes that a meeting could still occur before the end of the month. But with progress at a crawl, officials and analysts on both sides expressed concern that the chances for a deal were being undermined by political divisions, in Tehran as well as in Western capitals. Hard-liners in Iran have spoken publicly against making any nuclear concessions, while in the United States, conservatives in Congress have warned against a deal that would allow Iran to retain any ability to enrich uranium, even for nonmilitary purposes."

Reuters: "Senior U.N. nuclear inspectors will continue their talks with Iran for a second day on Thursday, hoping to reach a long-sought agreement to unblock an investigation into suspected weapons research in the Islamic state. It was not clear whether the extension of the meeting in Tehran meant that headway had been made towards nailing down a framework deal giving the U.N. nuclear watchdog access to sites, officials and documents for its long-stalled inquiry. The IAEA's immediate priority is to visit the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran, where it suspects explosives tests relevant for production of nuclear weapons may have taken place, perhaps a decade ago, accusations Tehran denies... In Vienna, IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said: 'The talks will continue on Thursday.'"

CSM: "As Iranian officials prepare for a new round of negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), US sanctions set to hit Tehran in February have Iranians worried that billions of dollars long stuck in bank accounts outside the Islamic Republic could soon become cemented in place. The new US Treasury sanctions, which go into effect Feb. 6, will formally regulate global banking constraints that Iranian banks and businesses have been facing, on an informal basis, for more than two years...  The aim of Washington's February sanctions measure is for Tehran's oil revenues to become largely 'shackled' within any country buying oil from Iran, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen declared at a conference in Washington last month. This means Iran's international oil customers - even those with State Department waivers exempting them from US Treasury penalties for purchasing Iranian oil - will officially be at risk of being cut off from the US banking system if they allow transfers of Iran's oil revenues back to Tehran's Central Bank. If implemented, the National Iranian Oil Company would be formally forced to keep its oil revenues in local bank accounts inside countries purchasing its oil, and could only use those oil earnings to purchase 'permissible' services and goods, such as food, medicine, and basic medical equipment, from those oil customers as imports back into the Islamic Republic."
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Reuters: "An Iranian-flagged cargo ship has fled from waters around Sri Lanka after weeks of detention by the island nation's navy acting on a court order obtained by Germany's DVB Bank SE, officials and a lawyer acting for the bank said on Thursday. The Sri Lankan navy last week fired warning shots to prevent the MV Amina from leaving, but said that late on Wednesday the vessel made its way in rough sea out of the country's waters... The vessel is managed by Tehran-based Rahbaran Omid Darya Ship Management, public shipping registers and ship tracking data showed. The European Union and United States have said the firm is a front for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which has faced Western sanctions for some years... The MV Amina was seized in December after DVB Bank obtained an order on December 12 from the Colombo High Court to hold the vessel after the owners defaulted on a payment. Court documents showed that DVB Bank sought to recover millions of dollars."

Syrian Uprising

FT: "Syria's embattled regime has arranged a $1bn import credit line from Iran, in a sign of Tehran's financial support for its ally President Bashar al-Assad as he fights a spreading rebellion, international sanctions and a crippled economy. The deal between Export Development Bank of Iran and Commercial Bank of Syria was part of broader package of assistance agreed after Wael al-Halqi, Syria's prime minister, visited Tehran on Wednesday, Syria state television said. While the agreement is not a direct cash transfer to bolster Syria's depleted foreign exchange reserves, it will allow Syrian importers credit to source consumer supplies from Iran at a time when it is hard for them to do so from many other countries."

Human Rights

AP: "A media watchdog group says the founder of an Iranian protest group led by mothers has been ordered to begin a six-month prison sentence after being convicted of anti-government activity. Reporters Without Borders appealed Thursday for Iranian authorities not to jail Mansoureh Behkish. She started the protest group, which was inspired by mothers battling abuses and executions of perceived dissidents following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Activists say she has been ordered to report to Tehran's Evin prison on Jan. 29."

Idaho Statesman: "Idaho U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, urging action to help free 32-year-old Saeed Abedini from his homeland before his trial on Monday... Abedini is an ordained pastor through Calvary Chapel but is not practicing at the Boise location. He was arrested July 28 after traveling to his home country with his wife and two children, ages 4 and 6, to plan an orphanage and visit family members. He was confined to his parents' home before armed Iranian guards ransacked it on Sept. 26 and took him to prison."

RFE/RL: "The national security committee of the Iranian parliament is considering a bill that could place further limits on the already restricted right of Iranian women to travel. Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age -- both male and female -- must receive paternal permission before receiving travel documents. Women over the age of 18 need the written consent of their father or guardian to obtain a passport. Married women must receive their husband's approval to receive the documents. According to the new passport bill -- which has to go before the 290-seat, conservative-dominated parliament -- a woman's passport may be confiscated if her guardian changes his mind and opposes her travels abroad. Prominent U.S.-based Iranian lawyer Mehrangiz Kar says that the bill is another step in limiting women's right to travel freely."

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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