Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eye on Iran: Russia, Iran Ink Economic Deals As Rouhani Visits Moscow

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The meeting between Putin and Rouhani, who have grown closer through their mutual support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, mostly focused on flourishing economic ties in the fields of energy and industry. Putin said in televised comments after the meeting that trade between the countries had "grown more than 70 percent" last year. "This is truly a good result considering that it was achieved in unstable global conditions and amid persistent volatility on the commodity and currency markets," Putin said. A joint statement published by the Kremlin said that "special attention" had been paid to cooperation in energy, with both sides pledging to continue efforts to stabilise the international market.

Aiming to prove their commitment to Israel, senior U.S. lawmakers are backing bipartisan legislation that would slap Iran with new sanctions while maintaining rigorous enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal. The measures, unveiled ahead of the opening of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, seek to build consensus among Republicans and Democrats who are so often bitterly at odds on domestic issues. "The United States will stand with Israel," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the conference Tuesday. But the Kentucky Republican criticized the nuclear agreement as a "windfall" for Tehran that prevented the U.S. from taking more aggressive steps against Iran. "But today we can take a different approach," McConnell said. "Today, we can combat Iran's capability to fund, arm, and train terrorists like Hezbollah, Hamas, and its proxies in Syria."

A German court has sentenced a 31-year-old Pakistani to four years and three months in prison for spying for Iran by seeking out possible Jewish and Israeli-related targets for attacks in Germany and France. The German news agency dpa reported Tuesday that Haider Syed Mustafa was convicted by a Berlin court for collecting extensive material on the former head of the German-Israeli Association and on a French-Israeli professor from an economic university in Paris, for the elite Quds Force unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. No attacks were carried out. Mustafa, who came to Germany in 2012 to study for an engineering degree at the University of Bremen, received more than 2,000 euros (2,170 dollars) for his spying activities which included shooting hundreds of photos and creating presentations on the potential targets. He refused to testify during the trial.


Addressing a UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, held in New York on March 28, Iran's UN Ambassador Gholam Ali Khoshroo deplored certain nuclear-weapon states for inaction to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations under article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). He also reaffirmed Iran's commitment to obligations under the NPT, including the obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament.


Hundreds of Iranian students already accepted into U.S. graduate programs may not be able to come next fall because of the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban, potentially derailing research projects and leaving some science programs scrambling to find new students. With admission season still in full swing, 25 of America's largest research universities have already sent more than 500 acceptance letters to students from the six affected countries, according to data provided by schools in response to Associated Press requests. The vast majority of those students are from Iran, where undergraduate programs are known for their strength in engineering and computer sciences. The ban, which would suspend immigration from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen, has been blocked by federal judges. But if the court ruling is overturned or if Trump issues a new immigration ban, students would be locked out for next fall, legal experts say.


U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday charged an executive at a Turkish state-owned bank with participating in a multi-year scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, escalating a case that has added to tensions between the United States and Turkey. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager of Halkbank, is accused of conspiring with wealthy Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran's government and other entities in that country. Atilla, a 47-year-old Turkish citizen, looked somber as he appeared at a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in Manhattan, a day after being arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was unclear whether Atilla has hired a lawyer or made any bail application. He will remain in federal custody for now


Russia and Iran have pledged to continue efforts to rein in oil production and stabilize markets, the presidents of both countries said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other large producers, led by Russia, had agreed in December to cut their combined output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to reduce bloated oil inventories and support prices. Iran, however, successfully argued that it should not limit production that was slowly starting to recover after the lifting of international sanctions in January last year. "Russia and Iran will continue cooperation in this sphere (in oil output cuts) in order to stabilize the global energy market and ensure stable economic growth," the statement from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani said.


In a statement released on Wednesday, in commemoration of the Islamic Republic Day, which falls on April 1, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces hailed the country's remarkable progress in the military and defense fields. Iran's deterrent power has reached such a point that the "front of enemies is recoiling with strategic horror" while the Iranian nation is assured of sustainable national security, the statement added. It also restated the Armed Forces' commitment to press ahead with plans to boost defense capabilities and deterrent power in order to thwart the plots hatched by the adversaries of Iran. On Saturday, Iran is going to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the outset of the Islamic Republic as the country's official ruling system, which was approved by the overwhelming majority of Iranians in a landmark referendum back in 1979.


Iran has rejected accusations that it is imperiling the security of the Middle East, saying regional insecurity and terrorism originates from Saudi Arabia's radicalism and extremism. "The root cause of terrorism in the region is radical thoughts nurtured in Saudi Arabia which have today become the scourge of people in the region and in the world in the form of different terrorist-takfiri groups," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement carried on the official website of the ministry on Tuesday. General Ahmed Hassan Mohammad Asseri, an adviser to Saudi Arabia's Defense Minister as well as spokesman of the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Yemen, claimed in an article published by Fox News that Iran is sharing ballistic missile technology with the extremist Houthi militia in Yemen and similar groups in other countries, thereby imperiling the security of the entire region.


In Iran, there are two main approaches to how to avoid a looming banking crisis. The first is to get the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to implement a major quantitative easing (QE) program - the introduction of new money into the money supply - in a bid to provide troubled banks with immediate liquidity. The second, less risky, solution aims to help out financial institutions without QE. Advocates of the latter approach are very worried about the inflationary consequences of the CBI printing money. As such, they urge banks to embrace structural reforms and address their nonperforming loans (NPLs) - which are estimated at 1,100 trillion rials ($33.9 billion) in value - in a more "serious" way.

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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