Monday, February 27, 2017

Eye on Iran: Trump Proposal for Terrorist Listing of Iran Revolutionary Guard in Limbo: Sources

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A proposal the Trump administration is considering to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization has stalled over warnings from defense and intelligence officials that the move could backfire, according to officials familiar with the matter. "If you do that, there is no way to escalate, and you would foreclose any possibility of talking to the Iranians about anything," one of the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Momentum behind a possible presidential order has slowed amid an internal debate that has included concerns it could undermine the fight against Islamic State, draw opposition from key allies, torpedo any U.S.-Iran diplomatic prospects, and complicate enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. and European sources said... The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month. But while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when - or even if - an announcement might be forthcoming, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Iran's nuclear chief said Saturday that the country had asked to buy 950 tonnes of uranium concentrate from Kazakhstan over the next three years to help develop its civil reactor programme. The request has been made to the body that oversees the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told the ISNA news agency that the purchase was supposed to happen "within three years". "650 tonnes will enter the country in two consignments and 300 tonnes will enter Iran in the third year," he said. Salehi said the final shipment of concentrate, known as yellow cake, would be turned into uranium hexafluoride gas and sold back to Kazakhstan -- its first international sale of the compound which is used in the uranium enrichment process... Salehi said Iran has already received around 382 tonnes of yellow cake, primarily from Russia, since the nuclear deal came into force in January last year.

Iran launched naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean on Sunday, a naval commander said, as tensions with the United States escalated after U.S President Donald Trump put Tehran "on notice". Since taking office last month, Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table. Iran's annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, according to state media.


Iran's official stock of enriched uranium has fallen by half after large amounts stuck in pipes have been recategorized as unrecoverable under a process agreed with major powers, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Friday. But before that process began last month, Iran came close to reaching a limit on its uranium stock, one of the most sensitive aspects of Tehran's nuclear deal, a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtained by Reuters made clear... "As of 18 February 2017, the quantity of Iran's uranium enriched up to 3.67 percent U-235 was 101.7 kg," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a quarterly report on Iran, its first since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the deal. That was about half the limit of 202.8 kg, but only after 100 kg of material at one plant alone was deemed unrecoverable and not included in the calculation.


In a February 20 interview on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, Palestinian Ambassador to Iran Salah Zawawi warned against what he called the "Western enterprise" to establish the Greater Israel and to turn the Arabs into "servants, if not slaves in our region." "I pray to Allah that Iran will produce 1,000 nuclear bombs," he said, adding that they would not be directed against Arab or Islamic countries, but "would be used to defend the Islamic Republic and its principles."


Iran's ex-president Mahmud Ahmadinejad published Sunday an open letter to Donald Trump, welcoming his criticism of the US political system but taking issue with his visa ban and attitude to women. Many Iranians see the new US president as cut from the same cloth as Ahmadinejad, who shocked the establishment with his sudden rise to power in 2005, combining hardline rhetoric and populist economic policies to win a powerful following among Iran's lower classes. At times in the long and rambling letter, published in English and Farsi on his website, he appears to find a kindred spirit in Trump. "Your Excellency (Trump) has truthfully described the US political system and electoral structure as corrupt and anti-public," he writes. But much of the letter is spent exhorting Trump to end interventions in the Middle East and ditch the "arrogance" of past US administrations. Ahmadinejad also takes issue with Trump's visa ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.


A high-ranking trade and banking delegation from Slovakia is scheduled to visit Iran in March 7, 2017, Iran's IRNA news agency reported. Slovakia's deputy prime minister for Investments, Peter Pellegrini will head the 40-member delegation of 35 Slovak companies, which are active in the fields of mining industry, transport, oil and petrochemicals, engineering and technical services, construction, electronics and IT as well as finance and banking sectors. The European country's Finance Minister Peter Kazimír and Economy Minister Peter Ziga will also accompany the delegation. The Slovak officials would sign a memorandum of understanding with Iran's Economy and Finance ministry.


Iranian-American dual citizen Reza (Robin) Shahini, currently serving an 18-year prison sentence in Gorgan Prison (about 190 miles east of Tehran), has gone on hunger strike to protest his unjust sentence. An informed source also told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Shahini, who is currently being held in solitary confinement, has been beaten and repeatedly harassed by prison staff and inmates. "Reza (Robin) Shahini has been on a wet hunger strike since Wednesday (February 15, 2017) to protest his conditions in prison,"  said the source. "He's protesting the lack of basic rights, the insulting treatment from prison guards, and his unfair sentence"


Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has decided to run for re-election in May, the vice-president for parliamentary affairs said on Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA. "In recent weeks, Mr Rouhani has reached a conclusion to take part in the presidential elections," Hosseinali Amiri told reporters... The conservative camp has so far failed to settle on an obvious challenger to Rouhani, who sits atop a relatively unified coalition of moderates and reformists.

President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday accused his hardline critics of wanting to deprive Iranians of the basic joys of life and isolate the country, as an aide said he had decided to run for a second term, state media reported... "Soon it's the (Iranian) New Year, so let the people have some joy," Rouhani, who has advocated greater social freedoms, said in a speech carried live on state television. "How come crying a lot is halal (allowed under Islam) and if we laugh it's haram (banned)," Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to hardliners who control the police and security bodies and promote an austere interpretation of Islam.

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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