Friday, October 21, 2016

Eye on Iran: Argentina Seeks Extradition of Iran Ex-Minister

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Argentina issued another extradition warrant Thursday for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, the government said. Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba asked Baghdad to extradite Ali Akbar Velayati, who is on the Interpol wanted list, since he is currently on Iraqi soil. He asked Iraq to arrest Velayati "in order to extradite him, after learning via the international press that the accused travelled to Baghdad" on Wednesday, the Argentine justice ministry said in a statement. In July Argentina issued a similar warrant to Singapore and Malaysia after learning Velayati was on a lecture tour to those countries. Argentine investigators accuse Velayati and four other Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires.

The U.S. Treasury moved to disrupt the fundraising and operation of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group on Thursday, imposing sanctions on four operatives and a firm that have assisted the organization, long seen as a terrorist outfit by Washington. In a related action, the U.S. State Department sanctioned Hezbollah commander Haytham 'Ali Tabataba'i under U.S. counter-terrorism rules. 'Ali Tabataba'i has commanded Hezbollah special forces, has operated in Syria and has been reported to be in Yemen, the State Department said in a statement. The sanctions prevent U.S. citizens from doing business with the individuals and organization, Global Cleaners SARL. Saudi Arabia joined the United States in imposing sanctions on some of the people, the Treasury Department said in statement.

Western insurers are slowly reaching deals with Iran as they seek to re-enter a multi-billion dollar market although the pace of business is hampered by banking restrictions ten months on from the lifting of international sanctions... Despite the removal of international banking restrictions in January, Tehran has secured ties with only a limited number of smaller banks as U.S. sanctions remain in force. By contrast, Iran is in more active talks with insurers to provide cover in a market valued at $9 billion overall last year and potentially double that in the next decade. Western companies need insurance in order to resume business with Iran. Shipping and trade credit insurance, which remove the risk of non-payment for goods, are the first types of insurance being offered. "There is generally a lower degree of fear and apprehension and that is because you have not had the big fines on the insurers that the banks have faced," said leading London sanctions lawyer Nigel Kushner.


President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio will make an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran from 25 to 26 October. President Niinistö will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday 26 October. Their discussions will cover international, regional and bilateral issues. The situation in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, including Syria and Iraq, relations between the EU and Iran, migrant and refugee flows, as well as closer political and economic relations between Iran and Finland, will feature in the discussions. President Niinistö will also meet Speaker of the Parliament of Iran Ali Larijani and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif. President Niinistö will be accompanied by Kai Mykkänen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, and a business delegation representing high-level, Finnish innovation and technology expertise in areas such as cleantech, bioeconomy, information technology and health technology.


A business forum between Iran and Saxony State of Germany is scheduled to be held in Saxony from November 28 to December 2, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) announced on Wednesday. The event to be attended by entrepreneurs and businessmen from the two sides covers various spheres including information technology, banking, machinery, technology and environment-related industries and etc.


The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned. Harika Ghaderi's husband, businessman Kamran Ghaderi, was initially detained in Tehran in January but his conviction and sentence for espionage and cooperation with the United States were revealed earlier this week. "How can they say something like that about Kamran? I don't understand," Ghaderi's wife said, adding that he had no ties to the United States and was not involved in politics... Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on October 18 that the 52-year-old Ghaderi was among six individuals who received 10-year sentences for what he described as spying and working with the hostile government in Washington... Ghaderi is the CEO of Avanoc, an IT management and consulting company that has worked in Iran for many years, his wife told Radio Farda.


Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has dismissed his pro-reform culture minister after mounting pressure by hardliners who accuse his centrist government of adopting cultural policies that contravene Islamic ethics. Many artists have credited Ali Jannati, the minister, with pushing for more cultural freedoms in the Islamic republic and his dismissal is likely to disappoint Mr Rouhani's supporters in the middle class as he prepares for elections next year. Under Mr Jannati's watch, the quality and quantity of Iranian cinema and theatre improved, and censorship of books decreased following eight years of suppression of cultural activities during the hardline presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad. The number and diversity of music concerts also increased, while new art galleries opened across the country. But regime hardliners and conservative clergy have been highly critical of the government's policies, most recently when it granted approval for music concerts to be held in the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom. Hardliners argued that the concerts would promote "vice" and the events in Mashhad were cancelled.

Finally, after a week of speculation, three members of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's Cabinet were replaced Oct. 19. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani and Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahmoud Goudarzi all resigned on the same day. Though all three were said to have stepped down voluntarily, various reports indicate that Rouhani wasn't content with them, an idea that was affirmed by a government official. Mohammad-Bagher Nobakhat, the spokesman for Rouhani's administration, appeared on state TV on Oct. 19 to explain the reason behind the Cabinet reshuffle. Nobakht said, "The change is aimed at improvement. ... The president's goal is to fulfill expectations as best as possible." ... Since Rouhani took office, the three ministers, especially Jannati, have been at the center of controversies.


The explosive title of an article published Oct. 13 by the Iranian Student News Agency gave a dire picture of Iran's economy after the nuclear deal and underlined concerns about the agreement's durability. "The real rate of unemployment reaches 80% in some Iranian cities," was the headline, a quote from the chief of an anti-narcotics commission working for a government body known as the Expediency Council. U.S. officials assert that they have done everything required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to implement sanctions relief in return for Iranian curbs on the nuclear program. But despite the lifting of so-called secondary sanctions that inhibited foreign investment in the Iranian economy and the recovery of Iranian oil exports to pre-sanctions levels, most Iranians are not feeling any benefit. With a few exceptions, such as the sale of U.S. civilian airliners, Iranians continue to face restrictions on direct dealings with the United States. It is still impossible for Iranians to wire money to relatives in the United States or for Iranian-Americans to send funds directly to Iran.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval ships' frequent, aggressive behavior towards the US Navy has hit new levels in the past few months, triggering several risky encounters in the Persian Gulf, even prompting a terse exchange during the first presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump over who would respond better to such provocations if they were in the White House. Then US navy ships in the Red Sea were targeted on Oct 8 and 12 by missiles from Yemen's Houthi rebels, a capability the group may have gained from their Iranian backers. Why have the waters in the Middle East become more dangerous recently? Here are five reasons, (hint: they all have to do with Iran).

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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