Friday, November 4, 2016

Eye on Iran: Iranians Bask in Anti-American Feeling on Anniversary of 1979 U.S. Embassy Takeover

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In an annual rite of anti-Americanism in Iran, thousands gathered Thursday at the site of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran to mark the anniversary of its takeover by student activists in 1979. The demonstrators brought by buses to the former embassy complex included young and old, university students, military staff and employees of state-run companies who voiced opposition to the nuclear deal Iran signed with the United States and world powers. Many echoed Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has intensified his rhetoric against the United States in recent days despite Iran's agreement to shelve its uranium enrichment program, which Western countries had worried could lead to a nuclear weapon. Almost 1 in every 10 demonstrators at the former embassy - now widely dubbed a "den of espionage" - carried placards with Khamenei's words: "We do not trust America."

Companies doing business with Iran risk U.S. sanctions unless they take heightened measures to avoid benefiting sanctioned entities like the Iranian military, according to a State Department statement provided to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The warning contradicts remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry, which were seen by supporters and opponents of the administration as significantly downplaying the risks businesses face. Kerry said Monday that banks could safely do business in Iran if they applied "no extra due diligence, just normal due diligence," weeks after Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin told TWS that banks risked sanctions unless they used a higher, "enhanced level of due diligence." TWS reported this week that Kerry's comments sparked criticism that he was misleading banks about sanctions in order to encourage them to do business with Iran. The State Department subsequently told TWS that it accepted Szubin's heightened standard as the U.S. norm. "We expect banks and other businesses to exercise due diligence in any overseas investment or transaction, tailored to the particular environment," an official said. "For a high-risk jurisdiction like Iran, the norm is enhanced due diligence."

Foreign investors have flocked to the country over the past year and agreed hundreds, if not thousands, of memorandums of understanding - but not one major contract has been signed. Contracts have been stuck between foreign companies' concerns that they may risk their interests in the US by breaching America's non-nuclear sanctions against Iran, and the tense power struggle between hardliners and moderates in Tehran itself... While the accord permits banking activities, including transactions and financial messaging using services such as Swift, international banks remain wary of dealing with Iranian institutions out of fear of becoming associated accidentally withthe Guards' affiliates, many of whom run private companies. Domestic hurdles, too, are hampering investment. These range from poor infrastructure to the Islamic establishment's paranoia over infiltration by western states. The regime fears foreign investors and Iranian dual-nationals, who would bring money and technology but also western culture - and perhaps plot to undermine Iran's rulers. That fear has slowed progress in technology especially, a sector in which the country is struggling to catch up with the rest of the world.


Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned that if the US government reneges on the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as JCPOA, Iran will "send the deal to Museum". "The Americans should be aware that if they fail to meet their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), we will send the deal to Museum," Brigadier General Salami said during a massive demonstration held in Tehran on Thursday to mark the "National Day of Fight against Global Arrogance". He further emphasized that if Washington reneges on the agreement, the two sides will "go back to square one" and the Islamic Republic will activate its decommissioned centrifuges. In that case, the country not only will refuse to stop its nuclear program but also develop the activities, the commander went on to say.


On the 37th anniversary of the incidents known as the Iran hostage crisis, most Iranian outlets focused on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech commemorating the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, signaling his objection to further negotiations with Washington... On the Iranian official calendar, the 13th day of the month of Aban (which this year falls on Nov. 3) is Student Day. Anti-US rallies have been organized across the country on this day since 1979.


Iran now commands a force of around 25,000 Shi'ite Muslim militants in Syria, mostly made up of recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former head of Israel's domestic intelligence agency has told a visiting Swiss delegation. Avi Dichter, chair of Israel's foreign affairs and defense committee, told members of the Swiss parliament the Iranian-backed force was focused on fighting Sunni rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not Islamic State. "This is a foreign legion of some 25,000 militants, most of whom have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan," Dichter told the delegation during the briefing on Wednesday, according to details provided by his office. "They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIS."


Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency says an undisclosed number of suspects who stormed Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran early this year were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to six months. Friday's report quotes lawyer Mostafa Shabani as saying that "some of the defendants were sentenced to six months in prison and others to three months, and some were acquitted." There is no indication how many were on trial, how many separate trials had taken place or when the sentences were handed down.

Old disputes between Saudi Arabia and rival Iran resurfaced at a meeting of OPEC experts last week, with Riyadh threatening to raise oil output steeply to bring prices down if Tehran refuses to limit its supply, OPEC sources say.


Next week tens of millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote in the 2016 election, celebrating the time-honored tradition of our nation's electoral process. This year also marks the 37th anniversary for those Americans who were held hostage in Tehran for 444 days during the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. In this unusual presidential campaign cycle, we have seen a lack of substantive discussion about Iran and foreign policy from the candidates. This oversight comes at the most critical time in decades, with the nuclear deal well underway despite continued hostile behavior from the Iranian regime. It is imperative that the Presidential candidates and our policymakers in Congress understand that the Iranian regime that held my colleagues and me hostage has not reformed its ways. Nearly four decades after we were held against our will, subjected to torture and abuse, denied contact with our families with no idea if or when we would ever come home, my fellow survivors and I are dismayed to see the same actions being taken against fellow Americans in Iran today. There have been a number of dual nationals held on unsubstantiated charges-just like I was-sentenced to years in Iranian prisons without recourse... The next President must acknowledge the realities of inner turmoil in Iran, and be prepared to take a hard line against Khamenei and his regime as they push the envelope. Regardless of who wins the Iranian elections in March, we already know the regime holds the power and has no intention of working diplomatically with the West. The fanciful notion that the nuclear deal would bring about better relations between our two countries has been dispelled; a new administration will have the chance to cast a spotlight on Iran for the bad global actor it is.

The United States and its allies have interdicted five separate weapons shipments from Iran to the Houthis in Yemen since April 2015-shipments that violate U. N. Security Council resolutions.  According to U.S. Vice Admiral Kevin Donergan, "We know they came from Iran and we know the destination." The U.S. State Department has also criticized Iranian arms smuggling to Yemen, including the provision of missiles to the Houthis. This lethal aid violates an arms embargo that was imposed as part of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 implementing the nuclear agreement with Iran and the resolutions it replaced. It also violates U.N. Security Council resolution 2216, adopted in April 2015, which imposes an arms embargo against the leadership of the Houthi rebels. However, no action has been taken at the United Nations to punish these violations. In a little noticed report released this summer, the Secretary General raised concern over one Iranian arms shipment interdicted by the United States but concluded only that the U.N. was "still reviewing the information provided by the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran" and that he would "provide an update on this arms seizure to the Security Council in due course." ... Under prior U.N. resolutions, a dedicated U.N. panel of experts was charged with monitoring the implementation of sanctions against Iran. This independent panel investigated possible violations and proposed sanctions designations in response. It played a valuable role in scrutinizing and publicizing a number of illicit Iranian arms exports. Unfortunately, in response to Iranian demands, the U.N. panel on Iran was dissolved when the nuclear agreement took effect at the beginning of this year. Now, it appears, officially documented reports of repeated Iranian violations face a dead-end diplomatic process at the United Nations, in which the absence of consensus among Security Council members stalls any action.

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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