Thursday, May 4, 2017

Eye on Iran: Iran Attempted Missile Launch From Submarine, US Officials Say

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Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a submarine in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday but the test failed, two U.S. officials told Fox News. An Iranian Yono-class "midget" submarine conducted the missile launch. North Korea and Iran are the only two countries in the world that operate this type of submarine. In February, Iran claimed to have successfully tested a submarine-launched missile. It was not immediately clear if Tuesday's test was the first time Iran had attempted to launch a missile underwater from a submarine. This incident comes on the heels of other recent provocations from Iran.  In April, the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destoryer fired a warning flare after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel came within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan.

Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of seeking tension in the region, saying the Saudi deputy crown prince had made "destructive" comments by ruling out dialogue with Tehran. Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister and a son of King Salman, said in unusually blunt remarks on Tuesday that he would protect his kingdom from what he called Iranian efforts to dominate the Muslim world. "These comments are proof that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism and seeks confrontational and destructive policies in the region and toward Iran," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state media. He said such remarks, in the most optimistic of scenarios, showed Saudis lacked a correct understanding of regional issues.

At least 33 people have died after a large explosion at a coal mine in northern Iran trapped scores of miners in a mile-long tunnel 1,200 metres deep underground. "Unfortunately 33 miners who were trapped in the mine after the explosion have lost their lives," said Ali Rabii, Iran's minister of labour and social welfare, according to the semi-official Ilna news agency. Rabii was speaking to reporters late on Wednesday night after visiting the Zemestan-Yort mine in Golestan province. Other news agencies quoted the minister saying the death toll could be as high as 35. The Tasnim news agency said the blast was due to workers jump-starting a locomotive engine by using an external battery. A spark ignited accumulated methane gas which exploded some 1,200 metres beneath the surface of the ground, trapping scores of miners inside.


Iran is in talks with Britain's export credit agency to facilitate the financing of aircraft sales to state airline IranAir as part of its pact with world powers to lift sanctions over its nuclear program, a senior Iranian official said. IranAir's plan to buy more than 180 jets from Airbus and Boeing is the most visible economic deal on the table after major powers last year lifted most sanctions on Iran in return for restrictions on its nuclear activities. But financing for the purchases has been hard to secure because most Western banks are holding back, concerned about the future of the 2015 agreement after U.S. President Donald Trump called it a bad deal and ordered a review. So far, IranAir has taken delivery of just three Airbus jets, for which it paid cash, industry sources say.


Iran International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition, dubbed Iran Oil Show 2017, will kick off on May 06 in the Iranian capital of Tehran. The second largest OPEC producer, Iran, sits atop 11 percent of oil and 18 percent of gas reserves in the world. Every year, the country hosts an international Oil Show in different oil, gas, refining and petrochemical sectors. Presence of famous foreign companies as well as domestic producers and industrialists provide a good chance for mutual cooperation in view of signature of contracts. The 22nd edition of the show is scheduled to be held with 4,000 exhibitors from across the globe running 1,800 pavilions in Tehran International Permanent Fairground.

Iran's gold jewelry demand climbed to a four-year high in the first quarter, as the rest of the Middle East was hurt by low oil prices. An improving economy helped Iran's jewelry demand climb 27 percent from a year earlier to 12.9 metric tons in the first three months this year, the World Gold Council said in a report Thursday. Iran's gold bar and coin demand was 3.7 tons, the most for the region, compared with sales of 0.3 ton. "Demand across the rest of the region remained weak in the face of low oil prices and subdued tourist numbers, the impact of which was exaggerated by rising gold prices," the World Gold Council said.


Delegation of Syrian armed opposition comes out against Iran's participation in ensuring ceasefire in Syria, according to a statement at talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on Wednesday. "Iran is an aggressor state, an enemy of the Syrian people. It is part of the problem and we do not accept a The opposition claimed that armed groups linked to Tehran were fighting on the side of the government in Syria. "Remove all sectarian terrorist militias affiliated with the regime of Wilayat al-Faqith in Iran from Syria by taking effective and strict measures to this," the document said.


Russia, Turkey and Iran signed on Thursday a memorandum on creating safe zones in Syria, while the delegation of the armed Syrian opposition walked out and shouted angrily after a new round of peace talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana. Russia, Turkey and Iran act as guarantors of the Astana peace process. Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said that next Syria peace talks would be held in Astana in mid-July.


Not one of the candidates running for Iran's presidency has an acceptable human rights record, Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a recent interview . Ebadi said she was especially appalled by the candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi, who served on a committee that implemented the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. "His involvement in atrocities and the massacre of prisoners because of their political or religious views in the 1980s will not be forgotten," said Ebadi, who defended activists and dissidents as a human rights lawyer in Iran. "They sent waves of young people to their graves for their views against the state and would not tell their families where many of them were buried," added Ebadi, who was forced to flee Iran in 2009 because of her profession.

Iranian court is charging former Tehran mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi for criticizing Iran's military involvement in Syria and the country's policy in the Middle East. Government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht rejected rumors claiming the government made a final decision concerning Iran's Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri's future in the presidential elections. Nobakht said President Rouhani hadn't made his mind yet on whether he'd withdraw from the presidential race or not. Head of Isfahan judiciary Ahmad Khosravi Wafa said that Karbaschi faces the charges of offending Iranian men killed in Syria, which Iran refers to as "martyrs of the shrine". Media reports said that Khosravi Wafa had summoned Karbaschi for investigation.

The crowd was unusual in Iran sports history: It included men. An exhibition women's basketball game in Tehran last month was attended by Iran basketball federation president Mahmoud Mashhoun and other men. They weren't just there to watch the players. They were there to observe the uniforms. Members of basketball's governing body had a chance to see players wearing the hijab, which could be allowed permanently if a rule to permit religious headgear is approved during FIBA's midterm congress on Thursday or Friday. FIBA's central board approved the proposal on Wednesday. "I think it will pass," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley told The Associated Press. "It came up in our board meeting and everyone supported making the change."


A former Iranian president banned by his country's judiciary from speaking publicly defied the restrictions to endorse President Hassan Rouhani for a second term, warning voters that Iran faces international isolation if a hard-line opponent is elected to power this month. Mohammad Khatami, a pro-reform leader who served two terms as president from 1997 to 2005, is under a domestic media ban, and the local press is prohibited from publishing his image or mentioning his name. But the former president announced on his website Tuesday that he would support Rouhani, who is also a moderate, for reelection on May 19. His endorsement could help mobilize turnout for the incumbent, who is facing tough competition as he struggles to defend his record on the economy and respond to questions about the benefits of a nuclear deal struck in 2015with world powers, including the United States.

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi released a campaign video that claims drastic income inequality under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and portrays his government as favoring the rich. The economic benefits, perceived and real, of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are the focus of this month's presidential election, and the video turned a harsh light on the subject in a 30-minute broadcast on state television. The footage shifts between street children and shabby homes and shots of tall towers, majestic villas with swimming pools and posh Western-style apartments. Playing on themes popular in populist campaigns in the U.S. and Europe, it also takes a jab at large shopping malls it says are hawking foreign brands at the expense of local producers, whose plants are being shut, leaving Iranian workers jobless. As Rouhani seeks re-election in the May 19 vote, his rivals have attacked him for trying to bring in foreign companies and investors, saying he has failed to tend to the immediate needs of poorer Iranians.


1979 is a key date in the U.S. relations with the Middle East. It was the historical hinge upon which much of today's Middle East conflicts rest. The Islamic Republic of Iran was established, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and the Islamic shrines in Saudi Arabia were attacked. The following year Saddam Hussein, after having seized full power in Iraq, invaded Iran. In the decade that followed, Hezbollah was established, hostages from a variety of western nations were seized by Iranian-allied terrorists, and serial terrorism emerged as the preferred tool of statecraft of among others, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Libya, and the Soviet Union.

It matters not where any national leader stands as far as the Iran deal is concerned, the greatest concern to the international community should be why Iran has been seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons for more than two decades. During the early 1990s, the Israeli secret service reportedly obtained Iranian government documents, stating that Iran had acquired several nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union. The documents were authenticated by experts in the US, all of which were said to be correspondence between officials in the Iranian government and leading commanders of the IRGC, verifying that the missiles had been successfully acquired. Although these weapons were no longer operational due to age, they were still useful to nuclear scientists as a blueprint for a future weapon. It is now believed that during the 1980s, when Iranian boffins were struggling to master nuclear technology, Iran obtained the know-how to overcome its problems in the more difficult aspects of nuclear technology, and from then on, the two countries shared future technological advances.

While Iran is fighting Saudi Arabia and Gulf states through its militias in Yemen and directly in Bahrain, and combats for its interests in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, reconciliation and peacemaking attempts continued between Iran and the Gulf States, prominently Saudi Arabia. Occasionally, calls for negotiations would come from former US President Barack Obama, or through European foreign ministers, and sometimes - shockingly - through Gulf countries' efforts. Each party credits itself for strengthening their positions even if it came on the expenses of Arab and Gulf states, though these calls would benefit Iran. Everyone knows that Iran can't go on with a reasonable dialogue while executing its expansion and interference in internal affairs policy.

Very rarely does Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and defence minister of Saudi Arabia, speak as forcefully and as publicly as he did this week. In a wide-ranging television interview, it was clear his patience with Iran had come to an end. Prince Mohammed was putting the Islamic Republic on notice: if Tehran does not change its behaviour, the consequences will be severe. Prince Mohammed went further than any Saudi Arabian leader in recent history and threatened to take the fight into Iran itself. "We are not waiting until there becomes a battle in Saudi Arabia," he said. If there was to be a battle, he said it was better that it was "a battle for them in Iran and not in 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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