Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eye on Iran: Total Signs First Post-Sanctions Western Energy Deal with Iran

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France's Total has signed a deal with Iran to further develop its part of the world's largest gas field, becoming the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year. Total confirmed on Tuesday it had signed a heads of agreement with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the Phase 11 development of South Pars in the Gulf, which extends into Qatari waters where it is known as the North field. The SP11 project will progress in two stages, the first costing an estimated $2 billion, Total said. The produced gas will be fed into Iran's gas network. The French company has already played a key role in Iran's energy industry, including the development of phases 2 and 3 of South Pars in the 2000s, before pulling out of the country after international sanctions were imposed in 2010... Total said it would operate the SP11 project and have a 50.1 percent stake in it. Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company, will have a 19.9 percent stake while state-China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will have a 30 percent stake.

French oil company Total SA said it would avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran by using its own euro-denominated cash to finance the first Western energy deal in the Islamic Republic since international restrictions over its nuclear program were lifted this year. "This confirms we have a capacity to work with the Iranian government and that there is reciprocal trust," Total's Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné said Tuesday... Mr. Pouyanné said Total will avoid the remaining sanctions still applied on Iran by the U.S. by using its own cash to finance its share of the investment. The Iranian government will pay Total in gas condensates, which the company can then sell on the international markets, bypassing the Iranian financial system.

A senior Iranian official says the Islamic Republic expects to see no change in the behavior of the United States toward Iran with the coming and going of different American presidents. "We have witnessed Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama presidencies," said Ali Akbar Velayati, making passing references to presidents who took office in the US after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. "They all treated Iran the same way, and not one of them is different from the others." Velayati, who advises Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, was speaking in a televised interview on Sunday night. Remarking on the characteristics of the competing US presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Velayati said they were "the two sides of the same coin." "One shows the US's true face, and the other is the face of America with make-up. This gentleman (Trump) is the un-retouched face of America, and that lady (Clinton) is the US's retouched face."


The brother of a Turkish gold trader has been charged in a U.S. indictment accusing both men of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran's government and Iranian entities, prosecutors said on Monday. Mohammad Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and Iran, was charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, two months before his brother Reza Zarrab was set to face trial following his arrest earlier this year. The new indictment added new claims that Reza Zarrab, 33, participated in transactions to benefit Iran-based Mahan Air, which the U.S. government has sanctioned for providing services to Iran's Quds Force as well as Hezbollah.


Italian oil refiner Saras (SRS.MI) has paid 160 million euros ($177 million) of the debt it owes Iran for crude oil bought before sanctions were imposed and its chief financial officer said the total debt to Tehran will be cleared next year. Analysts have estimated the company's Iranian debt at about 350 million euros and the company said it paid 50 million euros in the second quarter and 110 million euros in the third. "A further 100 million euros will be paid by year-end," CFO Franco Balsamo told analysts in a conference call on Monday's third-quarter results. "The rest will be paid in 2017."


Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday became the first foreign minister to meet Lebanon's new president, underscoring Tehran's struggle with its regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia for influence in Beirut. He met Michel Aoun, a Christian leader who was elected president last week. Aoun is a close ally of Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, and Iran welcomed Aoun's election as a victory for Hezbollah. Speaking at a joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, Zarif said Lebanon's presidential election should serve as an example to other politically troubled countries in the region. "The Lebanese people showed it is possible to reach a solution acceptable to all, or what we call a win-win situation," Zarif said. Aoun also met an envoy sent by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier in the day.


Iran blinded a man on Tuesday after convicting him of throwing chemicals in face of a four-year-old girl and depriving her of sight, a judicial official was quoted as saying. It was the second time this year that Iran had carried out the strict eye-for-eye punishment that can be imposed for such crimes in the Islamic republic, the head of criminal affairs for the Tehran prosecutor's office, Mohammad Shahriari, said. "In 2009, this man threw lime into the face of a little girl of four years in the Sanandaj region, leaving her blind," the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying. "Today, the law of retribution was applied in my presence and that of experts," he said, without giving details. The law of retribution is a central part of Islam's sharia code but has been condemned by international human rights groups.


The latest idea de jour on how the next U.S. administration should deal with Iran, trumpeted especially by the Hillary Clinton camp, is the need to be tougher and more aggressive in confronting Tehran. Only a stiff spine in standing up to the mullahcracy, as the argument goes, will block its expansionist desires and prevent a rising Iran from dominating the region. This muscle-flexing approach, if done in a knee-jerk manner, is unwise and unnecessary, exaggerating both Iranian power and inflating the United States' capacity to stop it. Instead, Washington should focus on containing Iran where it threatens vital U.S. interests and cooperating with Tehran where it serves those interests. That said, it would be a mistake to carry a torch for the Islamic Republic. It's a cruel and nasty regime-a serial human rights abuser at home and a promoter of policies in the region that are clearly at odds with many U.S. interests and those of its partners and allies. And it would be foolhardy to conclude that the nuclear agreement with Iran will be the last that the world sees of its flirtation with nuclear weapons. But creating a new Middle East bogeyman and scaring ourselves into a policy that mandates a more confrontational posture, particularly without the means and will to carry it out, makes little sense. Donald Trump has threatened to abrogate or renegotiate the Iranian nuclear agreement. Clinton has defended the accord, but her advisers seem bent on checking Iranian power in the region without outlining how they will do this or what the consequences might be. Given the near universal unhappiness in Congress with the Iranian nuclear agreement and worries that the current administration of President Barack Obama has been far too risk-averse and acquiescent in the face of Iranian expansion, a mindless default position has emerged: getting tough with Tehran without thinking through the consequences of such a policy and whether it can achieve its objectives without compromising other important U.S. interests and priorities. Lost in all of this is the politically inconvenient fact that the Iranian regime-along with Israel and perhaps Turkey-is one of the three most functional non-Arab polities in a region torn by conflict and instability, and is a rising power that isn't so easy to push around or ignore.

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 press@uani.com.

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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