Monday, November 14, 2016

Eye on Iran: Iran Warns It Will Not Accept Changes to Nuclear Deal

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Iran would not accept any alteration to its nuclear deal with world powers if Donald Trump pursues his campaign pledge to derail the accord, a senior Iranian politician has said. However, Tehran is open to the possibility of "strategic co-operation" with the US in the Middle East, Sadegh Kharrazi, leader of the moderate Neday-e Azadi and a relative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, told the FT at the weekend. "The internationally backed nuclear accord cannot be restructured with the change of one individual, and Iran would not accept any changes under any conditions," Mr Kharrazi said in an interview. "This is Iran's policy and there will be no setback." Mr Kharrazi said he was not speaking on behalf of the Islamic Republic. However, as a member of its inner circle, his mixture of warnings and offer of an olive branch is likely to reflect the general mood in the political hierarchy following Mr Trump's presidential victory.

The EU on Monday urged all parties to the landmark Iran nuclear accord to stick to their commitments after US President-elect Donald Trump said he might ditch the deal. European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said the deal signed last year with Iran by the United States, three EU powers as well as Russia and China must be respected as the bloc seeks to expand economic and other ties. "The upholding of commitments by all sides is a necessary condition to continue rebuilding trust and allow for continued, steady and gradual improvement in relations between the European Union, its member States and Iran," the ministers said in their conclusions. The EU welcomed the fact that the US government was now issuing licences for the export of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran and said it hoped they would continue. Such sales "will be an important signal" for the deal's implementation and contribute to a safer commercial aviation environment, the ministers said... The EU said it is committed to lifting nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran while engaging with banks and other economic operators "to promote growth in trade and investment." It said it "remains concerned" with the human rights situation, especially over the frequent use of the death penalty, and underlined the need for equal rights for women and minorities. The EU, voicing concern about Iran's missile programme, urged Tehran to refrain from ballistic missile tests and urged Iran to "to use its influence on the Syrian regime" of President Bashar al-Assad to end attacks on civilians.

Walid Phares, one of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisers, says the President-elect is going to demand changes to the Iran nuclear agreement. During the campaign, Trump said the Iran deal was one of the worst agreements ever negotiated. In a USA Today op-ed in September of 2015 Trump said, "When I am elected president, I will renegotiate with Iran." Republican members of Congress have sharply criticized the deal since it was announced in 2014. "Ripping up is maybe a too strong of word, he's gonna take that agreement, it's been done before in international context, and then review it," Phares said on BBC radio Thursday. "He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore few issues or change few issues, and there will be a discussion. It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now -- $750 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries -- that is not going to be accepted by a Trump administration," he added.


President Obama's signature nuclear deal with Iran could be put in peril when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January, nuclear policy experts and lobbyists say. After Trump's election on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rushed to tell his Cabinet that the deal "cannot be overturned by one government's decision." But both supporters and opponents of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), say that Republicans in control of the White House and Congress could take immediate steps to undermine the deal. "They have a lot of options for how they want to undo the deal. They have two houses of Congress and a compliant president," said Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, who specializes in nonproliferation deals at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey... "If you wanted to be out of the deal 30 days after the inauguration, then you just declare [Iran] is in noncompliance," Lewis said. "Literally on Day One, he could assert noncompliance and the clock starts ticking."

Advocates of the nuclear deal with Iran are convinced the pact is in mortal danger following Republican Donald Trump's upset election. Deal skeptics on Capitol Hill have already prepared a raft of bills that have a far better chance of making it into law with the threat of a White House veto now out of the way. But the president-elect himself can just as easily send what he's called a "disastrous" deal to the dustbin of history by simply refusing to sign off on sanctions relief. "That's why I find it so hard to believe that the deal survives," said Richard Nephew, a former State Department sanctions official who now heads the program on Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at Columbia University. "At some point, [Trump] will have to make an affirmative decision to support its implementation." ... "As much as I hear people say, 'Well, [Trump] won't kill the deal on Day One,' can anyone seriously think that he's going to allow his Treasury secretary or his secretary of state to issue those waivers?" Nephew told Al-Monitor. "And think about who those people will be. Can anyone seriously think they're going to do it?"

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump should not scrap a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers but should take the nation to task for its "destabilizing activities" in the Middle East, said a former senior Saudi official... "I don't think he should scrap it. It's been worked on for many years and the general consensus in the world, not just the United States, is that it has achieved an objective, which is a 15-year hiatus in the program that Iran embarked on to develop nuclear weapons," Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London said on Thursday. "To scrap that willy-nilly as it were will have ramifications, and I don't know if something else can be put in its place to guarantee that Iran will not go that route if the agreement is scrapped," he said at a think-tank event in Washington. Prince Turki said he would like to see if the deal could become a "stepping stone" to a more permanent program "to prevent proliferation through the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East."


Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami says that President-elect Donald Trump should apologize to the Iranian people for calling them terrorists during his campaign. The senior religious scholar, in a Friday sermon broadcast live on state radio, said Trump should "respectfully apologize to the nation." Khatami warned Trump about confronting Iran, saying he should know better than to play with "the tail of the lion." The cleric said that Tehran had successfully foiled and frustrated several of Trump's White House predecessors.


The House is preparing to debate legislation that aims to block U.S. financing for Boeing Co.'s sale of $25 billion worth of planes to Iran, a key committee announced Thursday. President Obama could veto the legislation if Congress sends it to him. But the bill represents the latest salvo from lawmakers opposed to the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran, which President-elect Donald Trump has criticized and said he would overturn. The bill from Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., would prohibit U.S. banks from financing the plane sale and would revoke any Treasury Department approval of the sale granted before the legislation is approved. The bill would "prohibit the secretary of the Treasury from authorizing certain transactions by a U.S. financial institution in connection with the export or re-export of a commercial  passenger aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran." "I am extremely concerned that by relaxing the rules, the Obama administration has allowed American companies to be complicit in weaponizing the Iranian regime," Huizenga told USA TODAY. The bill "prevents the leaders of the Iranian regime from having access to the U.S. financial system." The House Rules Committee announced Thursday that it would meet Monday to set the terms for how the bill is debated on the House floor.

The House is also expected to tackle a ten-year extension of the expiring Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, which forms the bedrock of existing U.S. sanctions against Tehran's nuclear and missile activities. Though the White House maintains the law is unnecessary, lawmakers in both parties fear without it they will lose the power to "snap back" sanctions on Iran should it commit an egregious violation of the nuclear pact struck last year. There are three proposals to extend the sanctions, including one that would strengthen punishment against Iran's ballistic missile activities, cyber threats and espionage, and another tying a sanctions extension to increased military aid to Israel. But the House intends to vote on an unchanged version of the sanctions act, making it difficult for the Senate to switch gears in the short session. The only remaining hurdle is whether the White House will veto it - an option they have not yet ruled out.

Congress still has some unfinished business before closing shop for the year, even as the focus shifts to the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and unified Republican control of Congress and the White House in 2017... The clock is ticking for Congress to renew a decades-old law that allows the United States to hit companies with economic sanctions for doing business with Iran. Congress first passed the Iran Sanctions Act in 1996 and has extended it several times since then. The law is to expire at the end of the year and there is strong bipartisan support for legislation that would extend it by another decade. It's on the House schedule this week.


Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, the advisor to the Iranian foreign affairs minister, said Iranian missiles are not only manufactured in Syria but in other countries in the region as well. He said Iran expanded its missiles' production outside its borders due to the "increasing Israeli threats in the region." Although he did not reveal much about the production Iranian missiles, he said Iraq is one of the countries where ballistic missiles are produced. His statements come two days after the Iranian chief of staff said that manufacturing ballistic missiles has been carried out in Aleppo during the past years.

Iran's top general said the Islamic Republic set up a missile factory in Syria which transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use in the 2006 war against Israel. "Iran established the missile industry for Syria in Aleppo in the past years and produced missiles and they were used during the 33-day war against Israel," Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted General Mohammad Hossein Bagher as saying.

Eleven Arab countries have sent a letter of complaint to the United Nations voicing their concerns of Iran's continuous expansion of their policies in the region, Al Arabiya News channel reported. The letter condemned Iran's role in Yemen and their support and training of Houthi militias, as well as the smuggling of arms to them. The Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Yemen sent the letter to Peter Thomson, the president of the UN General Assembly 71st session, and was distributed to UN state members. The letter comes in response to the false allegations which the Iranian delegation made on September 26 during the general debate of the UN General Assembly. The letter voiced concerns of Iran's calls for a revolution, adding that Iran sponsors terrorism in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen and supports terrorist cells and groups in Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other countries.


Russia and Iran are in talks over an arms deal worth around $10 billion that would see Moscow deliver T-90 tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters to Tehran, a senior Russian senator said on Monday, the RIA news agency reported. Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense and security committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, or Federation Council, told reporters talks on the potential deal were under way during a parliamentary visit to Iran, RIA said.

Iran's state TV is reporting that Iran and China have signed an agreement to hold joint military drills and cooperate in fighting terrorism. Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan signed the agreement Monday along with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan. In addition to the joint military training exercises, the report said that Iran and China seek to "create a collective movement to confront this threat" of terrorism. The two nations have upgraded their military ties in recent years, with each country's naval ships visiting the other's ports.


Wärtsilä and Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO), the largest industrial corporation in Iran have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on October 29th. The MoU was signed in connection to the President of Finland Mr. Sauli Niinistö's recent visit to Iran. With this agreement, both parties agree to cooperate on the development of decentralized power generation in Iran, including power plant operations and maintenance services and related liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure. Wärtsilä will provide relevant expertise and resources to support IDRO in its objective to improve the infrastructure and develop the Iranian industry. In a second phase this cooperation will be extended to the marine sector and the Iranian shipping industry... "With this agreement, Wärtsilä is showing its commitment to support the development of the Iranian industry and power generation sector, on the basis of a mutually beneficial relationship," says Javier Cavada, President of Wärtsilä Energy Solutions.

WPP, the world's largest communications services group, has signed an affiliation agreement with PPG, the leader in digital marketing in Iran, which operates more than 15 top digital services companies in the country. This agreement will give WPP and its clients access, on an exclusive basis, to the most effective digital marketing channels in the Iranian market and provides PPG with access to a huge amount of knowledge through connections with the world leader in marketing communications. PPG employs more than 200 people and comprises several leading Iranian digital businesses, including Anetwork, ADRO, RASANEX, ADAD, DMC, and a host of other leading content, technology, data, mobile and digital consultancy businesses.

Iran boosted oil output at three western fields faster than it expected as rival OPEC producer Saudi Arabia called for a collective output cut later this month to help rebalance the market. Output at the fields west of the Karoun River, near Iran's border with Iraq, rose to about 250,000 barrels per day from 65,000 barrels in 2013, the Oil Ministry's news service Shana reported Sunday, citing President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony to formally open the project. Iran had expected to reach that output target by the end of the year, Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Co., said in September... "Oil production west of Karoun must reach one million barrels per day," Rouhani said, referring to the North Azadegan, Yadavaran and Yaran fields. "This is a realistic goal, and we need investment and technology."

Iranian investors are pouring money into Kish island in the Gulf, hoping its white sand beaches, coral reefs and more relaxed Islamic rules, could make it a major tourism destination. From the pristine beaches of Kish, it is only 200 kilometres (120 miles) across the water to Dubai -- and it is the booming city state's tens of thousands of wealthy expats that the investors are hoping to lure... Still, even though Islamic rules are less strict on Kish, they are still in force -- creating a major obstacle for investors hoping to attract Western expats for short breaks from Dubai. There are no bars or clubs -- or any alcohol at all -- while men and women must use separate beaches, splitting up families.


A WOMAN has laid bare the brutal punishment she reportedly received at the hands of authorities after she was caught attending a party with boys and drinking alcohol. The 28-year-old Iranian woman received 80 lashes after an Iranian court found her guilty of the offences more than two years after she attended a party in the second biggest city of Mashhad. Masih Alinejad, a former journalist who administers the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom, posted an interview with the unnamed woman who suffered shocking injuries after her ordeal. Posting under the #NoToLashes, Alinejad's post goes into detail how the woman was initially arrested for consuming alcohol at a party, something which is strictly forbidden in Iran.

23 people have been executed during the last six days in Iran... Six prisoners were executed in Iran yesterday. One prisoner was hanged publicly in the village of Chelmeh near the city of Mashhad (northeastern Iran) reported the Iranian media.


Then in her late 20s and rebounding from a string of broken relationships, Fahimeh Azadi moved alone into an apartment in working-class southern Tehran. Her very presence, she recalled, was "a walking challenge to the men." Azadi had joined a growing number of women in Iran who are electing to remain single, defying their parents' expectations and the strict conventions of the Islamic Republic.

Tehran officials shut schools on Monday as the first of the winter's heavy pollution hit the Iranian capital. A blanket of choking brown-white smog descended on the city on Sunday, blocking out the view of the mountains that line its northern edge and leading many of its 14 million residents to retreat indoors or don face masks in the street. The level of the deadliest PM2.5 particles hit 156 on Monday -- more than three times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation. "Kindergartens and primary schools are closed on Monday in Tehran and most of the cities of the province," the Ministry of Education announced, according to official agency Irna. Officials extended traffic restrictions that alternate cars with odd and even licence plates in two central parts of the city, and deployed ambulances to wait in the busiest and dirtiest areas.


President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the so-called Iran nuclear deal, "the worst deal ever negotiated" and a "disaster." He's right. Far from creating the most robust monitoring regime, Secretary of State John Kerry's deal set a new precedent for lax inspection standards. Not only did it fall short of the bar President Obama had established, it also fell short of past international precedent established with the dismantlement of South Africa's and Libya's nuclear program. Rather than ratify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Additional Protocol, Iranian negotiators promised only to abide by it. The last time that happened, the Iranian government walked away from its restrictions as soon as they had achieved what they wanted, and bragged about it... Trump is right: The JCPOA is flawed and does little to restrain or prevent Iran's military nuclear ambitions. But that does not mean he should walk away. Rather, he can interpret the deal with such inflexibility as to force Iran to walk away. He can be ready with sanctions and, if necessary, other elements of coercion to punish Iran for its noncompliance. And, if he truly wishes to put America first, he will call out every European and Asian firm that seeks for its own short term gain to pump resources into Iran's infrastructure of terrorism by doing business with Revolutionary Guards-affiliated companies. At the same time, he can move to undercut Iran's ability to conduct terrorism by seizing accounts, restricting dollar access by reversing Obama's tendentious Treasury Department interpretations, and ordering the US Navy to hold its ground rather than "depressurize the Persian Gulf," as former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sought.

President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal, is in trouble. On Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency noted that Iran had exceeded its allowed stockpile of "heavy water," a substance used to cool plutonium reactors, for the second time since the agreement went into effect. When this happened in February, the Obama administration lent a hand, agreeing to purchase the excess material to get Iran back into compliance. This time around, it's resorting to semantics. State Department spokesman Mark Toner says the non-compliance was not a "violation" of the agreement, which would in theory trigger a process to re-impose sanctions. He said the Iranians were working quickly with other parties to resolve the issue. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, the excess heavy water would likely remain in the non-compliance category. But Donald Trump will be the next president, and he has promised to enforce the 2015 deal with vigor. His campaign's Israel advisory committee released a statement this month saying: "The U.S. must counteract Iran's ongoing violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and their noncompliance with past and present sanctions." The statement also promised that Trump would implement new sanctions to check Iranian threats to its neighbors and continued proliferation. Republicans on Thursday told me that Iran's most recent violations would receive more scrutiny from a Trump administration than from the current one.

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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