Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Eye on Iran: US Navy Fires Warning Flare At Iran Vessel In Persian Gulf

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A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official said on Wednesday, the latest tense naval encounter between the two countries. The incident happened Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The "Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship's whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel's intentions," McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump told aides to toughen a State Department letter last week that declared Iran in compliance with a landmark nuclear deal, senior U.S. officials involved in a policy review said. Top White House officials said the initial letter the State Department submitted was too soft because it ignored Tehran's destabilizing activities in the Middle East and support for regional terrorist groups, these officials said. Mr. Trump personally weighed in on the redrafting of the letter, which was sent to Congress on April 18, the officials said. The final version highlighted Iran's threatening regional behavior and called into question the U.S.'s long-term support for the multinational accord. Mr Trump also told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to follow up the next day with a strident public message that the new administration was planning a shift on policy toward Iran, putting the nuclear deal in play, these officials said.

Iran's supreme leader called on presidential candidates on Tuesday to champion economic self-sufficiency, further distancing himself from Hassan Rouhani's policy of opening to the West and seeking foreign investment. Allies of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who aim to reclaim the presidency for their hardline faction, hope voters will punish the pragmatist President Rouhani for the slow pace of economic recovery despite the lifting of sanctions under a nuclear deal, the hallmark of his first term. "The candidates should promise to focus on national capabilities and domestic capacities to resolve the economic issues ... rather than looking abroad," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state TV as saying on Monday.


"Consultations for purchase of 950 tons of yellow cake from Kazakhstan are not yet over and will continue," Araqchi said ahead of the seventh meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which started in Vienna on Tuesday He also pointed to the U.S. failure to fully commit to the nuclear accord According to Araqchi all cases regarding the issue were to be raised during the joint commission on Tuesday. Araqchi, who on the part of Iran is tasked to monitor the implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers, noted that Washington's policy of reevaluating the JCPOA is creating an atmosphere of distrust and confusion among world countries, and this is contrary to the text and spirit of the agreement.


President Donald Trump personally intervened to inject tougher language into a State Department letter to Congress last week that found Iran was in compliance with the deal limiting its nuclear program, according to an administration official familiar with the matter. The letter to Congress from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified that Iran is complying with terms of the accord it reached with the US. and five other world powers in 2015 to restrict its nuclear activities in return for relief from certain economic sanctions, a finding required by U.S. law every 90 days.Bottom of Form But the final version highlighted Iran's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, reflecting Trump's intervention after the president read a draft letter that he found too soft on Tehran, said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the United States and Zionists are directing belligerence against Iran because Islam is most prominent in the Islamic Republic. "After the establishment of the Islamic Republic, where a characteristic of the Prophet's rule emerged and still continues, the enemies of human societies began battling what constitutes the reason for the progress of human societies, namely Islam, because Islam can stop oppression against humanity," the Leader said on Tuesday, which marked the occasion of Eid al-Mab'ath. The day marks the appointment of Muhammad (PBUH) to prophethood through divine order, and Ayatollah Khamenei was addressing a gathering of Iranian authorities and the ambassadors of Muslim nations on this occasion

The family of an Iranian-American father and son imprisoned in Iran are urging President Donald Trump to take personal responsibility to secure their release as administration officials huddle with Iranian counterparts for the first time in meetings in Vienna this week. Siamak Namazi, 45, is being held along with his father, Baquer Namazi, 80, in Iran's Evin prison. Siamak's brother, Babak Namazi, said Tuesday that he flew to the site of the U.S.-Iranian meetings in Vienna to press the case of his imprisoned family members, who have been held since October 2015 and February 2016, respectively. In a news conference in Vienna, Babak Namazi said the Trump administration had assured him that it would raise Siamak and Baquer's cases with the Iranian delegation.


As one of the world's biggest sellers of smartphones and the back-end equipment that makes cellular networks run, Huawei Technologies has become one of the major symbols of China's global technology ambitions. But as it continues its rise, its business with some countries has fallen under growing scrutiny from investigators in the United States. American officials are widening their investigation into whether Huawei broke American trade controls on Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, according to an administrative subpoena sent to Huawei and reviewed by The New York Times. The previously unreported subpoena was issued in December by the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees compliance with a number of American sanctions programs....It is not clear why the Treasury Department became involved with the Huawei investigation. But its subpoena suggests Huawei might also be suspected of violating American embargoes that broadly restrict the export of American goods to countries like Iran and Syria.


U.S. prosecutors said they will show that a Turkish-Iranian gold trader coordinated an illegal scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions with people at "high levels" in Turkey and Iran. During a pretrial hearing in a Manhattan district court on April 24, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Lockard said he would prove that Reza Zarrab and his co-conspirators offered their services to process hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of prohibited financial transactions for Iran's government and businesses in a letter personally addressed to then-Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Zarrab then worked with high-level government and banking officials in Iran and Turkey to carry out the scheme, which benefited, among others, "the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, ... Iranian banks that have been sanctioned for their role in providing financing for Iran's nuclear programs, and Iranian commercial airlines," he said.


Alderley have just re-entered into the Iranian market since the lifting of sanctions and as a big player in the market previously, Alderley already have a large installed base of over 40 modular packages in the region.  In order to ensure systems are running at optimal capacity, Alderley have been proactively engaging with existing clients and have visited various sites such as Abadan Refinery, Darquain and Assaluyeh to provide maintenance and engineering support services. Eric Maddock, Business Development Director, Alderley AFZE comments, "This is a good time for Alderley to re-enter the Iranian market and, as part of giving our clients the best support for their systems, we are extremely pleased to announce our new partners in the region: Artman System Company.  Artman have an excellent reputation in Iran and have a full understanding of the market place and our clients.  Together we have developed a strong presence and will be able to manufacture locally and support our clients with the transfer of technology and service support."


Iran has confirmed that the final appeal by a British-Iranian woman detained in Iran while on a trip with her toddler daughter of having her five-year prison sentence overturned has been denied. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family earlier said that she learned of the development last weekend. The judiciary's on Wednesday quoted Gholamhossein Esmaili, head of Tehran's justice department, as saying the appeal was rejected and that the "appeals court approved the verdict by the primary court." He didn't elaborate. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency was detained by security forces in Iran in 2016. Later, she was sentenced on security charges. Iranian media have said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was convicted of plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran's government. Iran doesn't recognize dual nationality.


Shortly after Ebrahim Raisi was confirmed as a hardline candidate for Iran's presidential election, he revealed a surprise weapon in his campaign armoury: his wife. In a move almost unheard of for a conservative cleric running for political office, Mr Raisi posted a video on social media in which he lauded Jamileh Alamolhoda, a professor at Shahid Beheshti University, as a successful career woman. "If I go home and she's not there, I don't mind. If there is no supper, I don't mind," Mr Raisi says in the video, a picture of Ms Alamolhoda appearing at the end. "I genuinely believe that her work helps her and the country and she is having an impact."

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi approved executing thousands of prisoners in 1988 when he was member of the commission of death that was tasked with eliminating political prisoners who opposed the regime. According to the Iranian opposition, the authorities executed between 3,500 and 15,000 political prisoners in 1988. The majority of those killed were members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran Raisi, 56, has strong relations with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, security apparatuses and judicial authority and he also enjoys the support of the Iranian supreme guide. However, his popularity among the Iranian public is low mainly due to his affiliation with the commission of death.


Last week the Trump administration sent a letter to House speaker Paul Ryan to certify that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump had called it the "worst deal ever negotiated" and promised it wouldn't stand if he made it to the White House. What gives? Trump supporters and others who opposed Barack Obama's signature foreign policy initiative are now wondering: Was the president just bluffing? Did he plan all along to leave the deal in place and take his chances that Iran wouldn't go nuclear on his watch? As usual, Washington is abuzz that the administration is split into rival camps-one that wants to go hard on the Iranians and another that wants to take it easy on the leading state sponsor of terror. There is indeed a conversation ongoing within the administration, the result of a larger, comprehensive review of Iran policy. According to one administration official, "it is one of the major projects that the government is now embarked on, involving hundreds, maybe thousands of people."

The Iranian regime might soon become a lobbying force to reckon with on Capitol Hill. That is one upshot of Boeing's plan to expedite delivery of its airplanes sold to Iran. It is also why President Trump should move quickly to scuttle the deal by which Boeing agreed to sell 80 civilian aircraft for $16.6 billion. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), among others, have already made a persuasive case against the sale. They argue that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards fly airplanes, like the Boeing ones, to ferry weapons to their clients, such as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and the terrorist group Hezbollah. Both have shown little mercy in the mullahs' drive to destabilize and dominate the Middle East.

On April 19, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified that Iran is sticking to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal but noted that the administration is conducting a review of sanctions on Iran and its broader regional activities. Upholding the JCPOA should be a priority. However, the United States should amplify its focus on Iran's destabilizing activities and capability development in a holistic strategy. Currently, in Syria, members of the powerful paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran's conventional army, the Artesh, are fighting to preserve President Bashar al Assad and his regime.  Moreover, it is estimated that Iran has between 106,000 - 108,000 proxy soldiers mobilized in Syria, including members of Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian National Defense Force. While the US. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has asserted that the Trump administration wants to "get the Iranian influence out" of Syria, concrete steps have yet to be taken to address more extensively Iranian destabilizing activities in Syria.

Sometimes international law is ambiguous. Sometimes not. When it comes to murdering civilians and using chemical weapons to get the job done, there are no gray areas, no fuzzy lines, no mitigating circumstances. Such practices are clearly and specifically prohibited under what's called "the law of war." That makes Bashar Assad, Syria's dynastic dictator, a war criminal. And it makes Iran his chief accomplice. As far back as 2005, Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Iran's rulers were actively helping Mr. Assad launch an "innovative chemical warfare program" - providing technology to build equipment that would produce "hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin nerve agents and mustard blister agent" When it comes to the Islamic republic, President Trump and his advisers are under no illusions. "Everywhere you look, if there's trouble in the region, you find Iran," Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

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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