Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eye on Iran: House Votes to Extend Iran Sanctions in Bid to Ensure Nuclear Compliance

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The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for legislation to extend American sanctions on Iran for 10 years, a move that proponents called critical economic leverage to ensure Iranian compliance with an international nuclear agreement. The legislation, known as the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, needs Senate approval and President Obama's signature before the end of the year, when American sanctions are set to expire. Under the nuclear agreement, which took effect in January, between Iran and six world powers including the United States, many economic sanctions were suspended or relaxed in exchange for Iran's verifiable pledges of peaceful nuclear work. But the deal also contained a "snapback" provision that would allow for the reimposition of sanctions if Iran were found to have violated the terms. The legislation approved by the House on Tuesday would also extend longstanding American sanctions against Iran that predate the dispute over that country's nuclear activities.

Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that the result of the US election made "no difference" to the Islamic republic despite president-elect Donald Trump's aggressive stance. "We have no judgement on this election because America is the same America," he told thousands of people during a public speech in Tehran, broadcast on state television. "In the past 37 years, neither of the two parties who were in charge did us any good and their evil has always been directed toward us." It was his first reaction to the election of Trump, who during his campaign labelled last year's nuclear deal between Iran and world powers a "disaster" and threatened to tear it up. "We neither mourn nor celebrate, because it makes no difference to us," Khamenei said. "We have no concerns. Thank God, we are prepared to confront any possible incident."

Iran's two top leaders - its president and the country's supreme leader - both sought Wednesday to calm concerns in Iran over the future of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in the wake of Donald Trump's election for U.S. president President Hassan Rouhani said the country will remain committed and loyal to the deal, regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election... "If a president is changed here and there, it has no impact on the will of Iran," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV from the city of Karaj, where he was visiting. "Based on the deal, we implement our commitment." Without mentioning Trump by name, Rouhani said that "the world is not under the will of a single individual and party. The reality of the world will impose many things on extremists." "Nobody should imagine it is possible to play with Iran," he added.


Iran expects to see "more rationality" on the part of Donald Trump once he assumes the role of U.S. president and leaves behind what was merely campaign rhetoric, an Iranian central bank official said. At a conference in Frankfurt, other Iranian bankers also said they did not expect long-term adverse effects from Trump's win, even though he ran for president opposing a landmark nuclear deal the United States signed last year with Iran. "What has been said during the election (campaign) was for the election competition. We expect to see more rationality on the position that Trump is going to take after becoming president," Iranian Central Bank Vice Governor Peyman Ghorbani told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference. "The (U.S.) administration will come to the point that they have to honor the (agreement) and that's the only right way forward," he said.

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlined that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process. "According to the analysis made by the behind-the-stage and shadow decision-makers of the establishment in the US, the United States will collapse in 2035 and I think that it is an optimistic analysis as this will take place much earlier," Naqdi told FNA on Sunday. He referred to the election of Trump as the new US president, and said, "The person that has ascended to power displays the reality of the US." Noting that Barack Obama showed the face of the US in disguise, Naqdi said that Trump is the real face of the US and he may accelerate collapse of the US.

Two Iranian-Americans, a father and his son, were sentenced last month to 10 years in an Iran prison. Another son, Babak Namazi, is working to free them, and talks to Steve Inskeep about the ordeal.

The detention in Iran of Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka is a "U.S. Iranian problem," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during an official visit to Lebanon on Monday, as the man's family urged that he be repatriated to Lebanon. "What happened with Mr. Zakka is not a problem between Iran and Lebanon, seeing as the problem was the violation of the applicable laws in Iran by a foreigner, and the problem is actually between the United States and Iran," Zarif said in response to a reporter's question. After being detained for around a year without trial over spying allegations, Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine on September 20. "The sentence that was given to Nizar Zakka more than a month ago is an unjust ruling and it should not apply to a Lebanese citizen," Zakka's family said in a statement it issued on the occasion's of Zarif's visit earlier in the day.


DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to conduct a study concerning the development of the Changuleh oil field in western Iran. Changuleh, discovered in 1999 but never developed, is estimated to hold more than 2 billion barrels of oil-in-place. "Iran presents an obvious and exciting next step in expanding DNO's footprint in the region," said DNO's Managing Director Bjørn Dale. "Our low-cost, fast-track development strategy and our fractured carbonate reservoir experience in the Kurdistan region of Iraq can be easily applied and leveraged in Iran," he added. The Company has established a wholly owned subsidiary DNO Iran AS amid preparations to increase its presence in Iran.


A U.N. committee on Tuesday urged Iran to cease enforced disappearances and the widespread use of arbitrary detention and has expressed serious concern about severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. The General Assembly's human rights committee approved the measure by a vote of 85 in favor, 35 against and 63 countries abstaining. The assembly is virtually certain to adopt the resolution when it's put to a vote next month. The measure welcomed pledges by Iran's president to eliminate discrimination against women and ethnic minorities as well as granting greater space for freedom of expression. But it also expressed concern over the "alarmingly high frequency" of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate laws and practices that constitute human rights violations against women and girls. Iran's Foreign Ministry swiftly rejected the vote.


Iranian MP Hussein Ali Haji Degana revealed that at least 12 top officials holding dual citizenship have been arrested in Iran over the last two years. Degana said that those detained have infiltrated into government and procured senior managerial and decision-making posts. The spy officials, according to Degana, have been arrested and put up on trial. The MP demanded that the Isfahan judiciary delivers its rulings with transparency, and that the officials' identity also be made public. Some of the officials were arrested on the premise of holding dual citizenship solely... The national parliament on Tuesday officially announced the monitoring and chase down of political and government officials holding either American dual-citizenship or the green card.

This week, as a yellow blanket of smog settled in for what is typically a winter-long stay, Reza Shajiee, a prominent hipster socialite, posted a picture of himself on Instagram wearing a gas mask under his motorcycle helmet. The text reads, "My city is better than yours, its air is better than yours," and is accompanied by an emoticon wearing a gas mask. One of his followers, @j.barzegar, responded, "Tehran gas chamber, slow death." Mr. Shajiee said he posted the picture in protest, but he didn't know against whom. "No one can solve this, and it's only getting worse," he said. Schools were closed for a second day in Tehran on Tuesday, and many citizens stayed home as the capital was covered in an unusually noxious cloud for a fifth day... Many Iranians say that ignoring the problem is their only option. In a country where participation in politics is mostly limited to voting in elections, citizens simply learn to endure whatever comes their way.

A thick cloud of smog has descended over the Iranian capital and apparently led to the death of hundreds of citizens. Tehran authorities reported 412 people had died in the last 23 days, according to state owned news agency Irna, from respiratory illnesses linked to the high levels of pollution. This led officials to order schools to be shut on Wednesday... 'I can't breathe in Tehran, simple as that. Everyone is fleeing Tehran ... everyone is choking, look at cancer rates. Who can live [in Tehran] under these circumstances?,' Dariush Mehrjui, a filmmaker, told Isna... Air pollution contributes to the deaths of an estimated 45,000 people a year in Iran, according to the head of Tehran municipality environment agency.


Deal or no nuclear deal, Iran continues to threaten the security of the United States and the world. And yet the leading U.S. law dealing with that threat-the law authorizing the sanctions that brought Iran's economy to its knees and thus made the nuclear deal possible-is set to expire this New Year's Day. Congress is poised to renew the law, but unfortunately, the Obama administration has not committed to signing the legislation, claiming its other existing legal authorities are sufficient to hold Tehran accountable for its dangerous activities. But the administration is wrong. Congress and the president should act together to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA)... Iran is putting America and American lives at risk. Now is not the time to respond by abandoning our longstanding, leading law to address that risk. Now is the time to reauthorize ISA for years to come, strictly enforce the nuclear deal, and push back hard against Iranian violations and aggression in all forms.

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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