Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eye on Iran: Iran's Top Leader: Nuclear Solution 'Easy'

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AP: "Iran's supreme leader said a solution to the nuclear impasse with the West would be 'easy' if the United States and its allies are serious about seeking a deal, Iranian media reported Thursday. The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are his first on the nuclear issue since the presidential election earlier this month of Hasan Rouhani, who supports direct talks with Washington. It suggests Khamenei also could endorse bolder diplomacy by Tehran if talks resume with world powers. Several newspapers, including the hard-line Jomhouri Eslami, quoted Khamenei as saying 'the solution to Iran's nuclear case is an easy and smooth job' if Western powers want to strike a deal. 'The opposition front against Iran does not want the nuclear issue to be solved,' Khamenei told a group of judiciary officials Wednesday. Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, singled out the U.S. for what he called 'new excuses' to block possible headway on negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program."

Platts: "Japan imported 221,523 b/d of crude from Iran in May, more than double the 99,236 b/d imported the same month a year ago, according to figures released Thursday by the Ministry of Finance. Platts converts MOF's statistics based on kiloliters into barrels per day. The May level was also up 99.2% from the 111,218 b/d imported from Iran in April, according to MOF data. The May surge comes after Japan's crude imports from Iran registered a sharp drop in April, when delays by refiners in renewing term contracts with Iran coincided with the process of rolling over shipping insurance provided by the Japanese government, according to sources familiar with the matter. Two Japanese tankers carrying a total of around 3 million barrels of Iranian crude reached Japanese ports at the end of April, although most of this oil was not counted as imports for that month."

FT: "Iran is suffering a new round of economic instability after the unexpected victory of moderate president-elect Hassan Rohani earlier this month. Although the national currency, the rial, has risen by 12 per cent since Mr Rohani's win, prices have remained high as wholesalers insist the strengthening of the rial is temporary because sanctions on the country's nuclear programme remain in place... Markets for cars, home appliances, electronic equipment and housing have stagnated since June 14 as Iranians wait for the fall in the value of hard currencies to be translated into lower prices. 'People now suffer from a mirage of cheap prices and refuse to buy goods,' said Morad, a merchant of home appliances in Tehran's grand bazaar. 'But in fact nothing has changed and sanctions are still there.' One US dollar bought 32,000 rials on Wednesday, down from 36,200 rials before the election."
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WSJ: "When a company discloses its business in Iran, as required by federal law, that data can also be snatched up by states implementing their own sanctions... Under federal sanctions law signed in 2010, U.S. states can maintain their own sanctions laws on Iran. States are allowed to require public divestment from businesses making investments of $20 million or more in Iran's energy sector, the federal law says, provided the company gets a 90-day notice to cease activity in the Iranian market. Though there's no evidence yet of states taking action on the new disclosures, lawyers said, they anticipate it happening in the future. 'This gives us another vehicle to both identify and engage potential scrutinized list companies,' said Judith Lee, a partner at Gibson Dunn who leads the firm's international trade and regulation compliance practice."

Radio Zamaneh: "The Iranian auto industry warns that U.S. sanctions have left carmakers on the verge of bankruptcy. The Mehr News Agency reports that the industry has called on the government to assist companies with the crisis in automotive parts and continually rising costs. The industry has called on the government for bailout money to invest in the industry. The latest round of U.S. sanctions, which go into force on July 1, target automotive parts and all services linked to automobile manufacturing. Iranian industry officials have predicted the price of auto parts will rise 15 to 40 percent. A report on Mehr indicates that South Korean companies, which have continued dealing in automotive parts with Iran in recent years, now indicate they will have to curtail that business under the new U.S. sanctions."

Syrian Civil War

Bloomberg: "Iran's President-elect Hassan Rohani will not change the country's policy of supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war, according to a member of the Iranian parliament. 'The tactics may change but the strategic aims will not change,' said Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, in a telephone interview from Tehran, describing Syria, Iran and Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah as part of a 'resistance front' opposing Israel. 'We don't want Syria to leave the resistance front.'"

Domestic Politics

Al-Monitor: "Thirty dogs have died of starvation and thirst in a dog jail in Kahrizak, a suburb south of Tehran. The shocking news broke just a couple of weeks ago, and was somehow overlooked amid the heat of Iran's presidential elections. All of these dogs had owners. Ahmad-Reza Radan, commander of Tehran's Armed Forces Corps, warned dog owners to refrain from walking them on the streets. He said, 'As summer approaches, we will make an effort to stop people from bringing out their dogs in their cars or parading them on the streets to show off. We won't have any of that.' Radan stuck to his word."

Daily Telegraph: "A Scottish university has confirmed it received a complaint that Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, plagiarised part of the thesis for the doctorate he obtained in the 1990s. Iranian activists have analysed passages of Mr Rouhani's Glasgow Caledonian University PhD thesis, titled The Flexibility of Sharia (Islamic Law) with reference to the Iranian experience, that closely match sentences written in a book by an Afghan author. Behdad Morshedi, a London-based writer, said Mr Rouhani appeared to have lifted segments from a book by Mohamad Hashem Kamali, the chairman of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies. 'Mr Kamali is closely associated with the regime but his book was published in his own name and the extracts are virtually identical,' said Mr Morshedi (a pen name). 'We will be submitting a petition calling on the university to cancel the PhD.' Charles McGhee, a spokesman for Glasgow Caledonian University, said its staff had received the allegations from another activist in the US and would be looking into the matter."

Foreign Affairs

Bloomberg: "Iran isn't actively supporting terrorist cells in Latin America and its influence is waning in the region after almost a decade of promises to increase investment, according to a State Department report. While Iran's interest in Latin America is a 'concern,' sanctions have undermined efforts by the Islamic republic to expand its economic and political toehold in the region, according to the unclassified summary of yesterday's report. 'As a result of diplomatic outreach, strengthening of allies' capacity, international nonproliferation efforts, a strong sanctions policy, and Iran's poor management of its foreign relations, Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning,' according to the report."

Opinion & Analysis

The Economist: "Iran is putting up with sanctions that damage its economy rather than accept a deal limiting its nuclear programme. It has developed the capacity to enrich far more uranium than it needs for generating nuclear power or for medical research. And its outgoing president has talked about wanting to wipe Israel off the map. All of which suggests to outsiders that the country intends, at a time of its choosing, to get its hands on nuclear weapons. Iran, for its part, denies that it wants any such thing and points to a fatwa against both the possession and use of nuclear weapons. So how close is Iran to having a nuclear bomb? To become a nuclear power, a country requires both the fissile material for a bomb and the means of delivering it reliably to its target ('weaponisation' in the jargon). Iran was thought to have suspended work on weaponisation in 2004, but now the International Atomic Energy Agency is not so sure. In order to create a nuclear weapon, Iran would need to convert highly enriched uranium into a metal sphere and make a detonator small enough to fit in the warhead of a ballistic missile. That is not beyond its technological capability. But does Iran have enough uranium for a bomb? To make one it would need about 20 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. To get there it would need to begin with a larger amount of medium-enriched uranium-somewhere between 94 kilograms and 210 kilograms-and enrich it further. At present it is thought to have around 123 kilograms of medium-enriched uranium. And getting from 20%, the upper limit for medium enrichment, to 80% or 90% is not as hard as getting from 2% to 20%, which Iran has already done. The upshot is that although Iran may not have decided whether it wants a bomb, it already has most of what it needs to build one. British and American intelligence sources think Iran is about a year away from having enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb, and rather further from mastering the technologies to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit into a missile. But David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security, thinks that by mid-2014 Iran will have the capacity to produce enough fissile material for a single bomb in one or two weeks, should it choose to do so. It seems unlikely that Iran could be forced to change course on this matter by foreigners. The best that can be hoped for is that it decides that it does not want or need a nuclear weapon. The alternative is probably a nuclear-armed Middle East in which Iran and Israel-and eventually Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt-all have missiles pointed at each other."

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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