Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eye on Iran: Iran's Busiest Port Threatened by Sanctions

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Asharq Al-Awsat: "Iran's busiest commercial port faces the loss of its remaining international container traffic thanks to US sanctions and domestic mismanagement, according to local press reports. According to the Tabnak news website, the last foreign shipping lines will cease operations at the port of Shahid Rejaei this week, thanks to the failure of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization to compensate for the effect of international sanctions. The port is located close to the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran, adjacent to the coastal city of Bandar Abbas. It is one of the largest of Iran's 11 commercial ports, and handles the majority of the country's container traffic, according to the website of the Iranian Port and Maritime Organization. As of June 15, only four international shipping lines operated in the port, but reports now say that they are preparing to sever their links." http://t.uani.com/17zXo2x

Haaretz: "United Against Nuclear Iran, a privately financed advocacy group, is tracking and monitoring the movements of Iranian ships in an attempt to thwart Tehran's efforts to circumvent international sanctions, according to a report in the New York Times. The organization, operating out of offices in Manhattan, uses a system it calls Marine Intelligence Network and Rogue Vessel Analysis (MINERVA) to track publicly available information from Iranian ship transponders. The group uses a variety of advanced techniques to identify suspicious behavior and reports on what they identify as Iranian embargo-avoiding tactics. 'Iran thrives on deception and disguise,' Mark D. Wallace, the chief executive of United Against Nuclear Iran, told the New York Times. According to the report, Iran employs a litany of tactics to cover its tracks, including reflagging ships, renaming them or clandestinely purchasing them. In addition, the Iranians secretly transfer oil from ship to ship to mask its place of origin and tinker with the ships' transponders to avoid detection." http://t.uani.com/10iefRP

AP: "Iran's president-elect says Tehran's relations with Russia will take high importance during his term in office. The statement carried late Monday on the official website of Hasan Rouhani is the first to a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which along with Germany are in talks with Iran on the country's disputed nuclear program. They follow Russian President Vladimir Putin's congratulations on Rouhani's June 14 victory. Iran's first nuclear power plant went online with help of Russia in 2011. The two countries have also cooperated militarily in the past. Both Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar Assad in his fight against rebels." http://t.uani.com/14V6S4A
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Reuters: "Iran hopes to become a major exporter of vehicle fuels with the opening of more plants after it moved from dependence on imports to self-sufficiency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a state news agency on Tuesday. Iran has been forced to increase its refining capacity over the past few years due to Western efforts to prevent it from importing fuel as part of wide-ranging sanctions over Tehran's nuclear activities. Refinery capacity expansions and government efforts to curb fuel use have slashed Iran's imports over the last three years. Around 1.8 million litres a day of additional gasoline production capacity from the Lavan oil refinery, starting this week, should reduce imports further." http://t.uani.com/120RsaE

Syrian Civil War

Reuters: "Saudi Arabia regards the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria's civil war as dangerous and believes the rebels must be offered military aid to defend themselves, the kingdom's foreign minister said on Tuesday. Speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary John Kerry in Jeddah, Prince Saud al-Faisal added that Saudi Arabia 'cannot be silent' about Iranian intervention and called for a resolution to ban arms flows to the Syrian government. 'The kingdom calls for issuing an unequivocal international resolution to halt the provision of arms to the Syrian regime and states the illegitimacy of the regime,' Prince Saud said." http://t.uani.com/1aaEnUg

Foreign Affairs

Bloomberg: "Iran blamed unidentified foreign enemies for the killing of an Egyptian Shiite Muslim leader, amid rising domestic and international criticism of President Mohamed Mursi ahead of rallies seeking his resignation... Iran said attempts to deepen rifts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are a 'plot or scheme that is part of the goals of the foreign enemies,' Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi told reporters in Tehran today. 'Enemies of Egypt have been hurt by the revolution and to compensate, they are going to divide and polarize ethnic and religious sects' in the country." http://t.uani.com/1479CuF

Opinion & Analysis

UANI Advisory Board Member Avi Jorisch in WSJ: "The United States and Europe are failing to use a tool already in their possession that would deliver a knockout blow to Iran's nuclear program. It isn't a new piece of computer malware or a bomb. The group that would accomplish the mission isn't the Pentagon or the European Union-it's the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift. From its headquarters in La Hulpe, Belgium, near Brussels, Swift facilitates about a million global financial transactions per day by serving as an interbank messaging system for crediting and debiting accounts. Iranian financial institutions, like nearly every bank in the world, are reliant on Swift to move funds globally. The EU has blacklisted 14 of Iran's 30 banks for facilitating illicit activity, including terrorism. The U.S. has designated the 14 banks named by the EU as well as another six Iranian banks for supporting Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism. Critically, the U.S. has also blacklisted all 30 Iranian banks for deficiencies present in the anti-money-laundering systems of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Swift, however, has barred only the 14 banks blacklisted by the EU, leaving the other Iranian banks free to work within the global financial system. This is a clear violation of Swift's own corporate rules, which state that services 'should not be used to facilitate illegal activities.' Moreover, given Swift's large physical presence in New York and its business dealings in the U.S., there are strong legal grounds to argue that it is subject to U.S. law, which would mean it is violating that as well. U.S. banking regulators and Treasury officials have an obligation to make Swift stop its dealings with Iranian banks or cease business operations in the United States. If Swift continues to service banks that the U.S. Treasury has designated as engaged in 'specified unlawful activities,' the U.S. government can take immediate legal action-under the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Laundering Control Act of 1986-and freeze its U.S.-based assets. In Europe, Swift is adhering to the letter of the law by cutting off service to the 14 Iranian financial institutions on the EU blacklist. But the impact is blunted because those Iranian banks not on the list retain access to the Swift network and provide their blacklisted counterparts entree to the international financial system through correspondent services. The symbiotic relationship of the Iranian government and its banking sector enables the regime to maintain access to foreign currencies and markets by exploiting the banks that continue to use Swift. Swift has maintained that it is a 'neutral global financial communication network.' But by any reasonable standard, Iran has forfeited its right to move money through the international financial system. It has done so by forcing its banks to sponsor terrorism, support Tehran's dangerous nuclear objectives, and facilitate criminal activity." http://t.uani.com/132W05m

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 Press@UnitedAgainstNuclearIran.com

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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