Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Eye on Iran: Iran Warns Trump Over Missile Dispute, and American U.N. Envoy Hits Back

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Already furious over President Trump's visa ban, Iran warned the United States on Tuesday not to escalate tensions over tests of Iranian missiles - tests that his administration's new United Nations ambassador called "absolutely unacceptable." The Iranian warning, made in Tehran by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, came a day after American and Israeli officials accused Iran of having conducted a missile test that they said had violated a United Nations Security Council resolution. The United States called an urgent meeting of the Council on Tuesday to discuss the grievance, making Iran the subject of the first diplomatic skirmish at the United Nations by Nikki R. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who is Mr. Trump's new ambassador. "The United States is not naïve," she told reporters after the closed meeting. "We're not going to stand by. You're going to see us call them out as we said we would, and you are also going to see us act accordingly." ... "We have said with this administration that we are not going to show a blind eye to these things that happen," she said. "We're going to act. We're going to be strong. We're going to be loud and we're going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people and the people across the world."

The Iranian-backed suicide attack targeting a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen on Monday may have been meant for an American warship, two defense officials told Fox News. The incident in question occurred in the southern Red Sea and was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. At first the ship was thought to have been struck by a missile. But based on new analysis of a video showing the attack, American intelligence officials now believe this was, in fact, a suicide bomber whose small boat rammed the side of the Saudi vessel. In the audio heard on the video, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, "Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam." U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship or that this was a "dress rehearsal" similar to the attack on the USS Cole, according to one official.

Iran's defense minister said on Wednesday it had tested a new missile but this did not breach the Islamic Republic's nuclear accord with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact. Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first during U.S. President Donald Trump's administration. Trump said in his election campaign that he would stop Iran's missile program. "The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defense affairs," Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan told Tasnim news agency. "The test did not violate the nuclear deal or (U.N.) Resolution 2231." A U.S. official said on Monday that Iran test-launched a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday and it exploded after traveling 630 miles (1,010 km). The Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday and recommended the matter of the missile testing be studied at committee level.


Barry Rosen was held prisoner in Iran 37 years ago, charged with spying. He was eventually released, but those distant events resonate now with the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose husband fears she is being used by Tehran as a political "bargaining chip"... Rosen joined the board of pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran, in May. The group lobbies large corporations against operating in Iran, on the proviso that money coming into the Middle Eastern country helps fund human rights abuses and its nuclear weapons programme. Rosen argues doing business in Iran, which relies on the use of dual nationals, is "nonsensical". He says it carries the risk of imprisonment, kidnapping, torture, execution and incarceration of staff... For Barry Rosen, who was charged with spying against the Iranian state 37 years ago, Nazanin Ratcliffe's case is all too familiar. Though he fears there is little to be done, he urges Richard Ratcliffe to continue his work campaigning for her release, and not to take his feet off the pedal.

The volume of trade between France and the Islamic Republic has tripled since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into effect last year, a top Iranian official said on Tuesday, according to the regime-aligned Tasnim news agency. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment during a joint press conference with French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was in the midst of a two-day visit to Tehran... The semi-official Mehr state news agency reported that Ayrault was joined on his trip to Iran by representatives of 60 French companies. On Monday, the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) advocacy group warned Ayrault about the perils of doing business with Iran. "As foreign companies have started to enter the Iranian market, those who have benefited most are Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) front companies, not the Iranian people," UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said in a statement. "The Iranian regime has used this influx of foreign money to fuel their brutal crackdown on human rights at home and their sponsorship of terrorism in the region. Given this reality, unfortunately any hope that the JCPOA will help strengthen moderates in Iran is misplaced."


Iran has stopped issuing visas to Americans, the country's foreign minister said, in an expected response to President Donald Trump's 90-day ban on Iranian citizens entering the U.S. Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday said it would take "reciprocal" and "proportionate" action after Mr. Trump issued an executive order barring entry to the U.S. of nationals from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as Iran. Tuesday's move came the same day Iraq said it wouldn't take any reciprocal action against Americans in light of the decree. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed that Tehran would no longer issue visas to U.S. citizens. He also said exceptions to the ban were possible and specific cases would be reviewed by a foreign ministry committee. Iran's move could affect efforts by Boeing Co. to seal an 80-plane sale to Iran Air...


India's annual oil imports from Iran surged to a record high in 2016 as some refiners resumed purchases after the lifting of sanctions against Tehran, according to ship tracking data and a report compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts. The sharp increase propelled Iran into fourth place among India's suppliers in 2016, up from seventh position in 2015. It used to be India's second-biggest supplier before sanctions. For the year, the world's third biggest oil consumer bought about 473,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran to feed expanding refining capacity, up from 208,300 bpd in 2015, the data showed. In December, imports from Iran more than doubled from a year earlier to about 546,600 bpd... Indian refiners Reliance Industries, Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL) last year resumed imports from Tehran, attracted by the discount offered by Iran.


One early test for the Trump Administration will be how it enforces the nuclear deal with Iran, and that question has become more urgent with Iran's test last weekend of another ballistic missile. The test of a medium-range, home-grown Khorramshahr missile is Tehran's twelfth since it signed the nuclear deal with the U.S. and its diplomatic partners in 2015. John Kerry, then Secretary of State, insisted that the deal barred Iran from developing or testing ballistic missiles. But that turned out to be a self-deception at best, as the U.N. Security Council resolution merely "called upon" Iran not to conduct such missile tests, rather than barring them. Iran has little reason to stop such tests because the penalties for doing them have been so light. The Obama Administration responded with weak sanctions on a few Iranian entities and individuals, even as it insisted that Iran is complying with the overall deal and deserves more sanctions relief... What the Administration can't afford is to allow the latest test to pass without a response. That would tell Iranians they can develop missiles and threaten neighbors with impunity. Mr. Trump is keen to show he will honor his campaign promises, and charting a tougher course against Iran is one of them.

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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