Monday, November 7, 2016

Eye on Iran: Smaller European Banks Taking Lead on Iran Deals

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With major U.K. and U.S. banks still struggling to find reassurances from regulators to resume business with Iran nearly 10 months since "implementation day," a handful of European banks are forging ahead and sealing transactions with the oil-rich nation. "I've recently found a new sport, which is hunting for small banks who want to do business with Iran," said Andreas Schweitzer, senior managing partner at Arjan Capital Ltd., a Malta-registered investment and advisory firm that focuses on doing business with Iran. "And we won't waste our resources looking for large banks; we will do business with medium sized banks-in Italy, Liechtenstein," he said last week at the Iranian Trade Conference in London... "I don't think we can dismiss the remaining sanctions...they do create uncertainty," said Justine Walker, director for financial crime at the British Bankers' Association, in a separate panel at the event. Ms. Walker said BBA members tend to fall into two groups: those considering the due diligence process to resume business with Iran, and those that are absolutely clear that as long as there is a risk of breaching sanctions, they won't do business there. The BBA is working with banks to map the way to tap into the Iranian market, but it will take "a lot of time," she said. "We were working with one bank looking to amend their policies...and they have 100 policies they need to change to actually facilitate this business with Iran-it is complex and we cannot dismiss that," said Ms. Walker.

Iran is set to sign a preliminary deal with Total SA Tuesday to help develop an offshore gas field, the first under its new oil-contract framework with a foreign company, an oil-ministry official in Tehran said Monday. The agreement with the French oil giant is a key step toward the return of Western companies to the Islamic Republic's giant fields, after a nuclear agreement with world powers ended international sanctions on its oil industry in January. The so-called "heads of agreement" to develop phase 11 of the giant South Pars gas field will also include China National Petroleum Corporation and Iran's state-owned Petropars, and will represent an investment of $6 billion, a press official at the oil-ministry said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will travel to Lebanon on Monday for political talks following the election of a new Lebanese president, a spokesperson announced, saying the top Iranian diplomat will begin a three-nation tour of Eastern Europe afterwards. Foreign Minister Zarif will leave Tehran for Beirut on Monday evening and stay there until Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said at a weekly press conference... According to Qassemi, Zarif will have meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and representatives of various political parties for talks on issues of mutual interest and on the latest regional developments, including the crisis in Syria... Elsewhere in the press conference, Qassemi said Zarif will later begin a tour of Eastern Europe that would take him to Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. "We worked in good cooperation with these (Eastern European) countries in the past in economic, technical and industrial fields," the spokesman noted, saying a lot of Iranian industries used to employ Czech technologies in the past.


In the past, Iranians looking to mock the United States would burn cardboard effigies of Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty. But in recent months, as the American presidential election took a series of bizarre turns, Iranians seeking to make fun of the "Great Satan" have ditched the arts and crafts and simply switched on their TV sets. Iran's state television, a bastion of conservative ideologues, for once interrupted its regular programing about the "murders and crimes committed" by the United States and broadcast all three debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump - live... Live, yes, but some parts - especially those criticizing Iran - were not fully translated. After each debate, analysts discussing the outcome were in unanimous agreement that America, in its current state, "cannot do a damn thing." ... Ayatollah Khamenei seized on the campaign's tawdriest details: accusations of infidelity and sexual assault. "The remarks made by these two U.S. presidential candidates over the last few weeks on immoral issues - which are, for the most part, not baseless accusations - are enough to disgrace America," he said during a speech commemorating the 1979 takeover of the United States Embassy in Tehran. His supporters responded enthusiastically by shouting, "Death to America."


Iran has reached a deal with a foreign leasing company to finance the first 17 jets it plans to buy from Airbus, breaking a logjam in efforts to import aircraft following the lifting of sanctions, people familiar with the move said. The deal removes a significant hurdle to securing the first tranche of jets, following uncertainty over financing and political opposition in the United States and Iran, though the sources caution months of talking have thrown up new potential hurdles. Iranian officials declined to name the lessor involved, but industry sources said in September that Iran was in advanced talks with the United Arab Emirates' Dubai Aerospace about helping to finance the purchase. "We have a deal to finance the first 17 aircraft," a senior Iranian official told Reuters, without elaborating.

Poland's dominant gas firm PGNiG and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) have singed a letter of intent regarding co-operation on exploring the Soumar oil deposit in Iran, PGNiG said in a statement on Monday.


Ahead of what it described as the battle of the bones in Aleppo, sources close to Iran's Shi'ite Fatimiyoun militias said yesterday that passengers and cargo aircrafts had transported to the Damascus airport on Friday a large number of forces from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and several other militias linked to both Iran and Iraq. The sources added that as soon as they landed at Damascus International Airport, those fighters moved to positions in northern and southern Aleppo. Channels broadcasting news related to Fatimiyoun on the Telegram network had aired the details of a "Revolutionary Guards" plan to start a wide battle in the coming few days from the axis of northern and southern Aleppo.


Fars news agency, which is affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, said Friday that Houthi missile units pounded the Yemeni forces' military positions in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday with the ballistic "Zalzal-2" missile. It added that forces' gathering in the center of the Malah region of Sanaa came under attack by the ballistic Zalzal-2 missile, according to the news agency's army source. "It was a precision missile strike and [it] hit the target," the source said without expanding on the damage and toll inflicted. The agency quoted "a prominent analyst" Seyed Sadeq al-Sharafi as saying that militias "are developing their missile power to target Riyadh and Dubai in the future, after they increased their missile and military capabilities and expanded the range of their military operations against the enemies." The Zelzal-2 is an Iranian developed long-range unguided rocket in use by the Iranian military, Hezbollah and the Houthis.


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

Northern Nigeria has become the latest battleground in the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, after violent clashes between supporters of rival groups from the two main branches of Islam. Members of the Izala movement, backed by mainly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, last month attacked the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which is sympathetic to Shiite majority Iran... Those clashes and the recent escalating tension indicate that the proxy Saudi-Iran conflict -- well-known in places such as Lebanon, Yemen and Syria -- is now being played out in Nigeria, experts said.


Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani has appointed a woman as the head of the country's tourism and cultural heritage department. His website said Saturday report says Rouhani appointed Zahra Ahmadipour as deputy president in charge of the tourism and cultural heritage department. Ahmadipour's previous role was as a middle-rank official in the country's Interior Ministry. She is now the third female member of the Cabinet.

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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