Monday, April 24, 2017

Eye on Iran: Troubled Taiwan Shipping Line Yang Ming Cuts Iran Service

View our videos on YouTube


Taiwan's troubled Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp is halting its container service to Iran, becoming the first foreign shipping line to abandon the route a year after international sanctions on Tehran were lifted, according to a company source. Yang Ming, the world's ninth largest container shipping line, is a comparatively small player in Iran, calling there just once a week. Several larger shipping lines have begun serving Iran since sanctions were lifted a year ago. An executive with Keelung-headquartered Yang Ming said the firm had "ceased direct services to Iran on concerns of rising tensions there". "We took into consideration the recent sanctions against Iran as well as the current geopolitical tensions in the region and what's been going on between Iran, the U.S. and Europe," the executive said, declining to elaborate further.... A U.S.-based pressure group that lobbies companies to stop trading with Iran, United Against Nuclear Iran, said Yang Ming's decision to withdraw was motivated by the risk of doing business there. It released what it said was a letter from Yang Ming's chairman Bronson Hsieh who described the decision to halt the Iran route as part of a "strategic realignment process". "Yang Ming is aware of political and legal trends in the relationship of the United States with Iran," Hsieh wrote in the letter released by the pressure group.

The Trump administration is stepping up its rhetoric against Iran even as it acknowledges the country is in compliance with a nuclear deal the president has long derided. Since fulfilling a legal requirement to certify to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal, administration officials have repeatedly slammed Tehran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson compared the country to North Korea, and President Trump declared that Iran is violating the "spirit" of the deal. The administration's actions were to make sure that "the certification wasn't perceived as a newfound approval of the [deal] as a mechanism for dealing with Iran," said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution. "The statements that we've seen from Tillerson are reflective of what I see as an emerging focus on Iran as a major priority." Trump has long railed against the 2016 deal between Iran and six world powers that requires Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifted sanctions.

When President Barack Obama announced the "one-time gesture" of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who "were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses" last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran's pledge to free five Americans. "Iran had a significantly higher number of individuals, of course, at the beginning of this negotiation that they would have liked to have seen released," one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House, adding that "we were able to winnow that down to these seven individuals, six of whom are Iranian-Americans."


The Trump administration is facing pressure to definitively rule out a longstanding request by Iran to import 950 tons of natural uranium, according to government sources and proliferation experts who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Tehran has signaled it will petition again for the yellowcake next week at a quarterly meeting in Vienna regarding implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Obama administration reportedly approved the Iranian request in its final weeks, but it was ultimately blocked by the United Kingdom. Iran has indicated of late that it will revive the request, setting up a key test for the Trump administration, which has placed the nuclear deal under a comprehensive review. Trump officials suggested to TWS that the administration has not yet decided whether it will overturn the Obama-era decision and prohibit Iran from importing the natural uranium.


The White House responded cautiously Friday to claims by an Iranian dissident group alleging that Iran's clandestine work on a nuclear weapon has continued unabated by the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran finalized with the Obama administration and five other world powers two years ago. At a news conference in Washington, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) brandished recent satellite imagery and intelligence purportedly derived from informants inside the Iranian military to bolster their claim that the Islamic Regime is still working covertly on what nuclear experts call weaponization: the final station on the path to nuclear weapons.


Iran's foreign minister mocked U.S President Donald Trump's claim Tehran was "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal on Friday, saying Washington was flouting the accord. "We'll see if U.S. prepared to live up to letter of #JCPOA (nuclear deal) let alone spirit," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. "So far, it has defied both. Should I use my highlighter again?" Zarif is almost as avid a user of Twitter as Trump despite it being officially banned in Iran.  A day earlier, he hit back at U.S. claims that the 2015 deal with world powers was a failure by highlighting certain sections and sharing them on Twitter.

Iranian-American groups attempted to deliver another legal blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to keep refugees and immigrants from six mostly Muslim nations out of the U.S. Those groups, plus about a dozen people, asked a U.S. judge in Washington Friday to block portions of the president's March 6 executive order and to add that ruling to previous decisions from Maryland and Hawaii federal courts that put parts of his edict on hold nationwide.U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan immediately wanted to know what it was those suing wanted from her. "What are you asking me to enjoin?" the judge asked plaintiffs' attorney John Freedman when he stepped to the podium, adding later that she didn't want to grant or deny his clients' request, "just as an academic exercise."

Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif advised US officials, who have leveled a series of anti-Iran tirades in recent days, to replace their hostile behavior toward the Iranian nation with a "realistic and pragmatic" approach. "What US officials need the most ... is to talk realistically and show wise behavior based on an accurate approach unaffected by pressure of others ... that are trying to fuel Iranophobia and distort realities concerning the region and Iran," he told IRNA on Thursday. The Iranian minister was responding to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's bombastic reference to Iran as "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" in a Tuesday letter to US Congress.


A UK law firm handling more than 60 complaints by Iranian nationals who have had their UK bank accounts closed allegedly because of their nationality has reported a continuation in such closures since Donald Trump assumed office. Iranian nationals living legally in the UK often have to go to extra lengths when opening a bank account and many who already with one have complained about their accounts being abruptly closed. Some banks refuse to explain why, while others cite sanctions against Iran as the main reason. Blackstone Solicitors represents a string of Iranians who have taken high street banks to court over allegations of racial discrimination. The firm said account closures have taken place despite the lifting of sanctions after the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers.


An Iranian presidential candidate said Sunday the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers has failed to lift sanctions or improve the country's economy. Mostafa Mirsalim, a conservative, told a news conference that President Hassan Rouhani's outreach to the West had failed, adding that "sanctions remained in place and were even intensified." Under the nuclear deal, international sanctions were lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its uranium enrichment, but separate U.S. sanctions related to Iran's ballistic missile program have been tightened. Mirsalim said that, if elected, he would abide by the nuclear deal. But he said U.S. President Donald Trump's administration had already undermined the agreement, without elaborating.


Iran sent its condolences Friday over the latest extremist attack in Paris, but said France was feeling the blowback from its "concessions" towards "brutal terrorists" in Syria, state media reported. Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi condemned Thursday night's shooting that killed a policeman on the world-famous Champs Elysees avenue and expressed sympathy with the French people, the ISNA news agency reported.  But he added: "Unfortunately, concessions and at times supportive actions for brutal terrorists indicate a double standard by the Western world in dealing with terrorism, and have made terrorists bolder."


A British-Iranian woman detained in Iran while on a trip with her toddler daughter has exhausted all chance of having her five-year prison sentence overturned in court, her family said on Monday. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is one of several dual nationals held in Iran by hard-liners in the country's judiciary and security services on espionage charges, likely to be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations with the West. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, found out this weekend her final appeal to Iran's supreme court had been denied, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.

Richard Ratcliffe, separated from his family for a year, opened his phone to a favorite video of his 2½-year-old daughter, Gabriella, dancing to Persian music and munching pistachios. The 41-year-old British accountant checked the time and calculated the hour in Tehran. If he called too late, Gabriella would be asleep. When the Skype call connected, his daughter's pudgy face appeared on the screen. "Hello, love," Mr. Ratcliffe said. "Are you being a good girl?" Gabriella, born in London, has forgotten most of her native language. She speaks to him in Farsi-or gibberish, pretending to speak English. On this call, she waved and laughed, then grabbed a crayon to draw on the carpet. "Are you drawing on everything? Mommy will be very cross," Mr. Ratcliffe said. Gabriella dropped her smile and gestured to a phone on a table, "Mommy, mommy," she said. Earlier, her mother had called from a prison in Iran.


When the Trump administration acknowledged this past week that Iran is currently in compliance with the nuclear deal concluded by its predecessor, the response from its critics was predictable. Obama administration veterans smirked and liberals guffawed at what they saw as yet another Trump flip-flop. The government led by the man who had damned the nuclear agreement as the worst negotiation in history was, they said, accepting that Obama's gamble had worked. Trump has done some 180-degree reversals on policy, but this isn't one of them. Those who focus on Iranian compliance are missing the big picture about both the consequences of the nuclear deal and the chances for reversing the colossal mistake Obama made with Iran. As Trump and his foreign-policy team are realizing, the issue isn't so much whether the letter of a deal that will expire within a decade is observed as it is what role Iran is playing in the region while its economy recovers and its nuclear program remains a long-term problem. The threatening talk from Washington isn't a flimsy cover for a flip-flop. It's a recognition that the Iranian threat was actually exacerbated by Obama's gambit.

As with other foreign policy issues, the Trump administration's approach to Iran has been full of mixed messages. Yet amid the confusion, there has been an ominous tendency to demonize Iran and misrepresent the threat it presents. This could lead to an unnecessary and risky confrontation. The administration's various and conflicting responses to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are a case in point. The deal, one of the Obama administration's major triumphs, requires Iran to curb its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions. During the campaign, President Trump called it "one of the worst deals I've ever seen" and promised to tear it up or renegotiate it if he won the election. Last week, however, a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the House speaker, Paul Ryan, signaled Mr. Trump's intention to stick to the deal. The letter certified that Iran was complying with the agreement, negotiated by five world powers in addition to the United States and Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the agreement with on-site inspectors and advanced technology, reached the same conclusion in its most recent report.

There's no significance worth mentioning regarding the victory of any candidate in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections. It does not matter who will win as what's more important here, is for Iran's domestic and foreign policy to change. As Iran needs to quit playing the role of the regional dominating power that has led itself and the region towards sectarian strife and destruction. Iran, with its current regime which was established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, cannot continue to play this game because it does not have a model to present inside or outside its borders. Iran can seek destruction and make the region's countries depend more on foreign powers, including America, "The Great Satan."However, it cannot be a power that builds because this will require more harmony among the region's communities and it will mean investing in resources to serve citizens instead of squandering huge sums of money to buy weapons. Will Iran still be needed if it plays a constructive role and be useless to America or any other country?

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment