Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eye on Iran: A Year After Iran Deal, Oil Flows But The Money's Stuck

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Bloomberg: "A jump in oil exports, business deals signed with global companies and inflation tamed: One year since Iranian negotiators gathered with the world's top diplomats to unveil their nuclear accord and Iran's economy is on the mend. That's the good news for President Hassan Rouhani in the final year of his first term. Not so welcome are the foreign banks deterred from lending by remaining U.S. sanctions, Congressional threats of new curbs, and the billions of dollars held in foreign accounts yet to reach Iran. Jobs are scarce. 'On the whole, the economic consequences have been disappointing but there was over-optimism,' says Robert Powell, Middle East and Africa regional manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit. 'Many in Iran probably expected too much, too soon.' Here are four charts to highlight Iran's economic performance." http://t.uani.com/2a3MpSx

Rudaw: "Leaders of the Arab world took a unanimous stance against Iran at their League's summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott on Monday, describing Tehran's meddling in the region a threat to the Arab national security. 'We reaffirm our rejection of foreign interferences in the domestic affairs of Arab states especially the Iranian interference, which will threaten the Arab national security,' said leaders of the Arab League in a joint public statement. Representatives at the summit urged closer cooperation among Arab states and called on Iran to behave on the principles of a good neighbor and end its hostile media campaign against the Arab world. According to Asharq Alawsat newspaper's Tuesday edition, the Arab leaders asked Iran to stop feeding conflicts in the region with its sectarian policies. The summit similarly demanded that Iran respects the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates while condemning Iran's military exercises around the islands of Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunb." http://t.uani.com/2abTqTi

IHR: "According to a report published by Iran Human Rights (IHR), Iranian authorities have executed at least 250 people between January 1 and July 20 of this year. This represents an average of more than one execution each day. Still, the execution numbers so far in 2016 are significantly lower than the numbers for the same period in 2015. Last year, Iranian authorities executed more than 700 people in the first seven months of the year. The execution numbers for the whole year were more than 969, the highest in more than 25 years. 'Despite the significant reduction in the number of executions compared to the last two years, Iran remains on top of the list of executioners after China. Moreover, there is no indication that the reduction in the number of executions so far is due to a change of policy by the Iranian authorities. The numbers are lower than last year most probably because of the parliamentary elections in February and March of this year and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in June,' says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights." http://t.uani.com/2aaWCeV

Nuclear & Ballistic Missile Program

Tehran Times: "Iran has drawn up plans to bring its nuclear activities to the previous stage if the West refrains from honoring its obligations under the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said... 'Necessary preparations have been made of for a quick reversibility in case of the violation of the JCPOA by the other side,' Salehi said in an interview with the IRIB published on Saturday. Salehi's deputy Behrouz Kamalvandi has also said that Iran is capable of restoring its nuclear activities to the pre-nuclear deal in a span of 45 days. 'In a month-and-half we can increase our centrifuges and (nuclear) material,' Kamalvandi told the Mehr news agency published on Saturday... Elsewhere, Salehi said that final steps to sell 40 tons of heavy water to Russia have been taken and the agreement will be signed soon. He added some big European corporations seek to buy heavy water from Iran and the issue is under negotiation." http://t.uani.com/2aldsuf

Business Risk

Al-Monitor: "Despite efforts by Iranian authorities to draw multinational companies to the 9th International Exhibition of Exchange, Bank and Insurance held July 10-13 in Tehran, the foreign presence was not strong. Shahrad Padidar, the investment and business development director of Karafarin Investment Group, told Al-Monitor the weak presence of foreigners was predictable. Indeed, several key Iranian banks and investment companies also declined to take part in the event because they assumed such events would have little impact on their businesses, Padidar said. 'Foreign companies do negotiate - sometimes for long months - with Iranian brokerage firms, but at the end of the day they don't make any investment due to political concerns,' he said, referring to his own experience in negotiating with European investors... Padidar, of the Karafarin Investment Group, said that without a government body offering a guarantee that all obligations will be satisfied when and if the primary obligator goes into default, no major investment will be made through the private sector's brokerage firms. In other words, the political risks are still prevailing, despite the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and hopes for the inflow of capital to the Iranian market. Thus, it seems that neither the Central Bank of Iran nor any other government body wants to take the risks of the private sector's possible default on its obligations - a policy that continues to make foreign investors skeptical of the future prospects of Iran's capital markets." http://t.uani.com/2apDwqY

Sanctions Relief

Mehr (Iran): "Iranian and Sri Lankan oil ministers have begun a fresh round of oil talks over signing the first oil sale contract in the post-sanction era. With the passage of seven months since sanctions removals and Iran's entrance to post-sanction period, a new round of oil talks between Iran and Sri Lanka kicked off today in Tehran at presence of Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as well as the Sri Lankan Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Chandima Weerakkody. Sri Lanka marks a traditional customer of Iranian crude as 100 per cent of the oil demand in its only oil refinery, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, was supplied by Iran before the imposition of international sanctions. Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Iran's Zanganeh said the ties between the two countries, which had halted due to sanctions, will be reinvigorated; 'being situated in the Indian Ocean region, Iran and Sri Lanka are naturally in conjunction with each other.' ... Recently, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Executive Director for International Affairs Seyed Mohsen Ghamsari had announced that oil exports to Sri Lanka has not started yet adding 'NIOC executives in Singapore have launched talks with officials if Ceylon Petroleum Corporation over resumption of oil sales.'" http://t.uani.com/29VbdzI

ISNA (Iran): "The CEO of Iran Khodro, Iranian largest state-run carmaker, Hashem Yekeh-Zareh, said the company has been negotiating with two Japanese automakers Suzuki and Datsun. The two sides have had good negotiations and in addition to the New Car Vitara, two new sedans that companies Ciaz and Baleno will be jointly produced and presented in the market, he said. 'The negotiation with the other Japanese Datsun, has begun sometime ago,' he added. CEO Iran Khodro then stressed that the cooperation agreement between the company and Mercedes Benz is almost finalized and will be signed within two months." http://t.uani.com/2aqGZCE

IRNA (Iran): "A meeting was held between Kerman businessmen and members of Rauh Welt Begriff Company (RWB) from the Netherlands on Monday. Chairman of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture said after expounding on potentials of the province, companies active in the field of water expressed interest to cooperate with Kerman's companies. Masoud Rashidi Nejad expressed hope that RWB's presence in Iran could provide the grounds for Dutch and Kerman companies to cooperate in water field and in solving the related problems. The C.E.O of RWB Andre Regers said that the company is active in the area of drinking and process water preparation, waste water purification and reuse, water sustainability, water evaporation and financing related projects." http://t.uani.com/2a98Gk1

Mehr (Iran): "An oil official has announced that Sinopec Company of China will take up second phase of the project for development of Yadavaran joint field. Executive manager of the Development Project of Yadavaran oilfield Hadi Nazarpour described the latest status of Yadavaran development plan saying 'at the current time, a daily average of 100 thousand barrels of oil are being produced at the joint field.' He underlined that Iraq begun production at Yadavaran four months ago asserting 'since the launch of production, Iran has managed to recover a total of 53 million barrels of oil from the joint field with the neighboring country.' 'The contract to develop Yadavaran was inked in 2008 with China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec),' highlighted the official noting 'three developmental phases were envisaged for the joint oilfield with the first and second phases aiming to increase output to 58 and 180 thousand barrels per day, respectively.' ... He also touched upon the latest status of talks with Sinopec over development of Yadavaran's Phase 2 explaining 'for the time being, the Major Development Plan (MDP) has become finalized and the Chinese firm will carry out the project.'" http://t.uani.com/2ab8aQ3

Mehr (Iran): "An oil official has announced the beginning of new oil negotiations between Iran and China for the second phase of North Azadegan oilfield development plan. Speaking to reporters at a press conference, North Azadegan Development Project Manager Keramat Behbahani said 'the first phase of the project for development of the Iranian oilfield was completed and put into operation one hundred days ago with a production capacity of 75 thousand barrels of crude oil per day.' ... Keramat Behbahani also referred to the talks with China's National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) over development of the second phase of the field asserting 'negotiations are still underway as we are expecting to receive CNPC's proposal for the project.' Behbahani pointed to initial technical and financial proposal offered by the Chinese side emphasizing 'in case of reaching an agreement between National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and CNPC, a buyback contract will be signed.'" http://t.uani.com/2aFNHE0

Foreign Affairs

Press TV (Iran): "A senior Iranian commander strongly criticizes France and Saudi Arabia over their cooperation with the anti-Iran terrorists, including the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), saying any act of terror in the Islamic Republic would be blamed on Riyadh and Paris... 'The role of the French in supporting and directing the phenomenon of terrorism is undeniable,' the commander said, adding, 'The advocates of combating terrorism, especially Western governments, better set aside their dual policies and genuinely step into the arena of fighting the ominous phenomenon of terrorism.'" http://t.uani.com/2ab5tOp


AP: "Iran on Tuesday denied claims by Washington that three senior al-Qaida figures are based in the Persian country, the official IRNA news agency reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as saying that Iran doesn't have 'any information about their presence on its soil.' He also reiterated Iran's commitment to fighting terrorism. The Obama administration last week slapped sanctions on the three, saying they are based in Iran, which it accused of helping transfer money and fighters from South Asia to the Mideast. The move froze any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions and barred Americans from doing business with them. The three - Saudi national Faisal Jassim Mohammed al-Amri al-Khalidi, Egyptian national Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi and Algerian national Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn - were identified as 'specially designated global terrorists.' According to the U.S. Treasury, al-Khalidi is an al-Qaida military commission chief and a former battalion commander who had ties with the Pakistani Taliban. Bayumi is the group's liaison with Iranian authorities and Ghumayn is in charge of al-Qaida members who are living in Iran, the Treasury said." http://t.uani.com/2a1YkQ1

Syria Conflict

Asharq Al-Awsat: "Four thousand Iranian fighters arrived in Aleppo last week to join the 80,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Afghani forces in Syria. Member of the delegation of the High Negotiations Committee (NHC) Assad al-Zubi declared that Iran is trying to cover up its losses by mobilizing new members. He added that the so-called Hezbollah had recruited a number of child soldiers to partake in the combat as well. Zubi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he received news confirming the arrival of 4,000 Iranian fighters to Aleppo. He explained that the fighters were being trained south of Damascus and the majority of them are Iranian or Afghans carrying the Iranian nationality. He explained that Iran is resorting to recruiting new members to cover its losses which it prefers to keep undisclosed. He added that the latest statistics confirm that 80,000 IRGC and Afghan Forces members were brought to Syria in addition to a number of Iraqi fighters." http://t.uani.com/2a59iFR

Domestic Politics

AFP: "Iran's government said Tuesday it would cap salaries for public officials as it seeks to dampen a scandal over exorbitant pay that has threatened to derail President Hassan Rouhani's re-election hopes. The payslips of executives at several public companies were leaked in May, showing that many earned over 100 times more than the average worker. One bank director was paid some $60,000 a month -- compared with an average public sector salary of about $400. He was sacked along with three other bank directors last month, and the entire management of Iran's development fund was forced to resign shortly after. On Tuesday, the government said it would cap monthly salaries for public officials at 189 million rials ($6,100), and 100 million rials for those in political roles. Any payment beyond these limits would be considered 'a violation and crime and they will face prosecution under the law', said government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht. The scandal has gripped the country and provided ammunition for the conservative media to attack moderate president Rouhani ahead of the next election, due around May next year." http://t.uani.com/2aHtTjr

Al-Monitor: "According to Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iran's judiciary spokesman, a total of four people have been arrested who are linked to a corruption case at Bank Mellat... Mohseni-Ejei added that in addition to the four arrests, a number of individuals are also wanted, some inside the country and others outside. He described the cases as being in the 'preliminary stage of investigation.' Repeating assertions by the IRGC, Mohseni-Ejei said that while the cases are related to financial issues, they are not limited to the issue of exorbitant salaries. The statement by the judiciary spokesman suggests that the judiciary and IRGC are working together on a corruption case much wider in scope. It is possible that the arrests could also bring in more people linked to the Rouhani administration. On the scandal over the high salaries, Mohseni-Ejei said all the institutions in Iran were to blame for their 'neglect' over this issue." http://t.uani.com/2aHtLkc

Opinion & Analysis

Toby Dershowitz & Saeed Gasseminejad in The Hill: "Iran is on a diplomatic offensive to persuade global illicit finance regulators to accept that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group. It may be just a matter of time before the international body in charge of protecting the global financial system succumbs to pressure from businesses on a gold rush back into Iran. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sets global standards to combat money laundering and finance for terrorism and proliferation. In June, FATF announced it would keep Iran on its high-risk blacklist, saying it 'remains concerned with the terrorist financing risk emanating from Iran and the threat this poses to the international financial system.' The business community was advised to 'apply enhanced due diligence to business relationships and transactions' with Iran. Still, FATF suspended mandatory counter-measures for a year on the promise that Iran would take steps to address 'deficiencies' and seek 'technical assistance' to implement its Action Plan. Neither FATF nor international financial institutions should be blind to what Iran has in mind. On July 11 Iran's nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi was blunt: 'It took us 18 months to reach an understanding with FATF regarding the definition of terrorist groups. We have clear red lines and will not sacrifice Hezbollah.' Hezbollah has a decades-long terrorist rap sheet against America and its allies. On June 24, the day FATF suspended mandatory counter-measures on Iran, Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah tested FATF and the international community by announcing, 'We are open that Hezbollah's budget, income, expenses, everything it eats and drinks, and its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.' In roadshows throughout the world, Iran has asserted that it has passed a counter-terrorism law to comply with FATF standards. 'This law will be helpful in sending a message of goodwill to financial bodies across the world and would be effective in allaying their fears in doing business with our banks,' Hamid Tehranfar, the Central Bank of Iran's deputy for supervision affairs explained, adding that passage of the law would improve Iranian credit ratings. But how Iran defines terrorism reveals its real intentions. Abdolmahdi Arjmandnejad, the Central Bank's deputy for anti-money laundering affairs, said 'liberation organizations are not subject to this law and the Supreme National Security Council decides who is a terrorist.' He added that FATF has no access to bank account information and transactions.' Terror financing in Iran occurs because the state orders it. The state will use its banks to transfer money to terrorist proxies the same way Iran uses banks, both state-owned and private in ways which led to their designation in the first place. This is where Iran may be playing FATF." http://t.uani.com/29WUuw3

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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