Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Eye on Iran: Iran's Rouhani: We Will Not Wait For US's Permission To Test Ballistic Missiles

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Iran's newly re-elected president Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that his country will continue its ballistic missile program despite criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump.  "The U.S. leaders should know that whenever we need a missile test because of a technical aspect, we will test," Rouhani said in a news conference. "We will not wait for them and their permission." "Our missiles are for peace, not for attack," he added. The remarks came three days after he won Iran's presidential election, securing another four-year term. On Sunday, Trump also made a speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that urged leaders in the Middle East region to combat extremism.

As he hopscotches through the Middle East, President Donald Trump is urging Israel and its Arab neighbors to unite around a "common cause": their deep distrust of Iran. Trump's first trip abroad has highlighted the extent to which strident opposition to Iran now serves as an organizing principle in his efforts to remake America's relationship with the Middle East. He leaned heavily on concerns over Iran's destabilizing activities in the region during his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Tehran's long-time foe. During meetings Monday in Israel, which considers Iran its biggest threat, Trump said Arab nations' own worries about Tehran could ultimately lead to new regional support for a Middle East peace deal. "There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran," Trump said as he opened talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani took barbed swipes at the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia on Monday, hitting back at both a day after President Donald Trump used his first foreign trip to the kingdom to call for further isolation of Iran. The 68-year-old cleric, a political moderate within Iran who secured a resounding victory over a hard-line opponent, called relations with the United States "a curvy road" even as he touted the 2015 nuclear accord Iran secured with the Obama administration and other world powers as a "win-win" agreement He was less flattering in his assessment of the Trump administration so far. Rouhani said that Iranians are "waiting for this government to become stable intellectually" and that "hopefully, things will settle down ... so we could pass more accurate judgments."


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday Tehran would continue its ballistic missile program, state television reported, striking a defiant note after strong criticism of the Islamic Republic from U.S. President Donald Trump. "The Iranian nation has decided to be powerful. Our missiles are for peace and for defense ... American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission," Rouhani said in a news conference, broadcast live on state TV. Rouhani also criticized Iran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia over its lack of democracy, urging Riyadh to allow its people to decide their country's fate through free elections.


Flush from his decisive re-election victory, Iran's president struck back on Monday after a weekend of verbal affronts from the Saudi-American summit meeting, describing President Trump's visit to Riyadh as empty theatrics and mocking his support for a monarchy that has "never seen a ballot box." At a news conference in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate cleric who has sought to open up Iran, said his victory on Friday over a hard-line conservative challenger showed that Iranians had exercised a democratic choice. Mr. Rouhani suggested that he remained open to dialogue with the United States. But he did not waste the opportunity to exploit the contrasting optics created by Mr. Trump's visit with Saudi Arabia's ruling monarchs at the moment Mr. Rouhani's victory was confirmed.

Iran welcomes cooperation at all levels to bring stability to the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart on Monday, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump lambasted Tehran again as he tours the region. In a telephone call, Rouhani told France's new president Emmanuel Macron he was hopeful that Europe would not copy Trump's stance against the Islamic Republic. Visiting Iran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Trump singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups in the Middle East, sending a tough message to Tehran the day after Rouhani won a second presidential term. He said on Monday in Jerusalem that shared concern about Iran was driving Israel and many Arab states closer, calling Tehran a real threat in the region. "The Islamic Republic is ready for cooperation in all levels with other countries, including France, to fight against terrorism and to resolve the Syrian crisis," Rouhani was quoted saying to Macron by Iran's state news agency IRNA.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that shared concern about Iran was driving Israel and many Arab states closer and demanded that Tehran immediately cease military and financial backing of "terrorists and militias". In stressing threats from Iran, Trump echoed a theme laid out during weekend meetings in Saudi Arabia with Muslim leaders from around the world, many wary of the Islamic Republic's growing regional influence and financial muscle. Trump has vowed to do whatever necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, dubbing a peace accord "the ultimate deal". But ahead of his Holy Land visit, he gave little indication of how he could revive talks that collapsed in 2014.

Donald Trump is betting that Arab nations hold the key to securing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a paradoxical premise founded on his belief that shared concern over Iran will bring longtime rivals to the bargaining table.  Trump is using the opening legs of his first foreign trip as U.S. president to encourage the revival of Mideast peace talks. In Riyadh and Jerusalem, he has said repeatedly that the perceived threat from Iran is pushing Arab Gulf states and Israel closer together. He believes that realignment could create conditions for long-abandoned peace talks to resume. It's far from a fully-formed plan, and so far Trump has made his case only to friendly audiences: Sunni Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all of whom fell over themselves praising the U.S. president.

Antipathy towards Iran is the one thing that Washington's disparate allies in the region agree upon. So bashing Tehran has been a prominent theme for Mr Trump both in Saudi Arabia and now in Israel. Hostility to Iran is the glue that binds what some would like to believe is an emerging coalition between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf States together. But how far it really promises to shake up the sterile politics of the region is unclear. A common purpose to contain Iran is one thing but can it really extend to bringing a new diplomatic dawn to the region? For Mr Trump, criticising Tehran performs multiple functions It allows him to sound tough on the world stage. Tougher than his predecessor, Barack Obama, who, he believes, signed one of the worst deals in history in reaching the nuclear accord with Iran.

Fresh off a resounding reelection victory, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized President Trump on Monday for visiting Iran's arch-rival Saudi Arabia, but also insisted that he wanted to improve relations with the U.S. Rouhani said Trump's meetings in Riyadh over the weekend were "a sham" and drew laughter from the audience at a press conference in Tehran when he compared the high turnout at Iran's election Friday to the fact that Saudi Arabia has never held elections. "Mr Trump has come to the region at a time when 45 million Iranian people went to polling stations, and he went to a country where they don't know what elections are about," Rouhani said. "It's not in their dictionary.

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday they see new opportunities for peace in the Middle East, based on a strategy of isolating Iran from other Muslim and Arab states in the region. At the end of Mr. Trump's historic first day of meetings in Israel and visits to holy sites, the president said he's optimistic about "a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace" to the region. But he told Israelis that the price of gaining Arab cooperation in defeating the broader threat of Islamist terrorism must be to reach a long-elusive peace agreement with the Palestinians. "We must take advantage of the situation," Mr. Trump said. "There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran."


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in a stronger position after his re-election to push through plans for wooing foreign investors the country needs to boost oil production, according to analysts. Iran's effort to attract about $100 billion to develop more than 50 oil and natural gas fields bogged down ahead of the May 19 presidential election. Political arguments stalled approval of the contract terms the government would offer, and U.S. financial sanctions - and the potential threat of additional curbs - continue to dissuade many would-be international investors. Rouhani defeated rivals in a landslide, winning about 57 percent of the vote. As his victory was announced Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump was in Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival, bolstering a coalition of states opposed to the Islamic Republic.

The possibility of Iran entering the international debt market hinges on a number of reasons, namely its risk factor in the eyes of global entities, which the country expects to improve, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran said. Asked about the possible timeline for a bond issuance program by the Iranian government, Valiollah Seif also told Fars News Agency that the question is vague to a certain degree because there might come a time when Iran decides to raise money from the global markets. "That will be when the country must issue bonds in the international markets and that is when we become certain that there is demand for our debt," he said. Seif stressed that bonds must be issued when the country's risk rating has improved.


President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Iranian aggression has united Israelis and Arabs and brought Middle East peace closer than ever, but Mr. Trump's warm reception in the region masks risks that have derailed his predecessors' bids for decades. "I've heard it's one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we're going to get there eventually," Mr. Trump said Monday as he met with Mr. Netanyahu. "I hope." Mr. Netanyahu cited Iran as a unifying force in the region, saying "common dangers are turning former enemies into partners" and adding that Mr. Trump's meeting with Arab leaders a day earlier in Saudi Arabia "could help create the conditions for a realistic peace."


During an event held in Tehran on Monday, Iran unveiled three strategic military projects developed by its local experts. Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan unveiled the new projects, including the country's first domestic geoportal, a system for calibration of satellite altimetry, and the first phase of a local network of permanent border posts, Tasnim news agency reported. Dehqan said the satellite altimetry calibration system is able to measure water depth in the oceans, seas and gulfs with high accuracy. The homegrown geoportal provides online and updated services for finding geographic information and positioning data for various purposes, he noted. According to the minister, the local positioning network can be used for a range of fields, including military navigation and positioning, border control, dynamics of the earth, crisis management, earthquake prediction, meteorology, atmospheric water vapor estimation, transportation and traffic control, and agriculture.


Iran condemned a suicide attack at a pop concert in Manchester that killed 22 people, but in an apparent swipe at Western security cooperation with Gulf Arab states said "artificial alliances" would not eliminate such threats. "Terrorism will be uprooted only by taking comprehensive measures, and avoiding double standards," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday. "Artificial alliances would not stop the expansion of cancerous terrorism in the world." Monday's attack at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester killed at least 22 people and wounded 59.


Iran must stop supporting armed groups in Syria and Iraq that contribute to the destabilization of the Middle East if it wants good relations with the West, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday. "In many conflicts in the region Iran plays a difficult role, especially in Iraq and Syria," Gabriel told a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. "The message must be that we are ready to work with the new government but we expect Iran to behave responsibly in the region, to support not terror but the politics of peace," Gabriel said, referring to the re-election of reformist President Hassan Rouhani. "When that happens then confidence in the place as an investment location will return." Le Drian urged Iran to vigorously implement a 2015 nuclear agreement with six powers that resulted in a lifting of most sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Donald Trump, on his first presidential visit to Israel and the West Bank, has escalated his war of words against Iran, demanding that Tehran immediately stop its financial and military support for "terrorists and militias" and reiterating that it must never be permitted to possess nuclear weapons. Trump referred to the Iran issue repeatedly on Monday, expanding on his speech in Saudi Arabia the day before in which he blamed "Iran's rising ambitions" for violently destabilising the Middle East. "The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never, ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately," Trump said in at a meeting in Jerusalem with the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin.


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday stability could not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran's help, responding to criticism of the Islamic Republic from U.S. President Donald Trump who is visiting the region. Trump called for a U.S. alliance with Muslim countries on Sunday aimed at fighting terrorism, singling out Iran as a major source of funding and support for militants in the Arab world. Rouhani, a pragmatist who won last week's presidential election, hit back hard by dismissing the summit as a "ceremonial (event) that had no political value and will bear no results". "Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?" he said at a news conference. At a weekend summit in Riyadh, Trump accused Iran of funding and arming "terrorists, militias and other extremist groups" in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and backing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.


The results of the opaque and undemocratic presidential election that Iran held on Friday are in no way a representation of the true will of its people, who made it clear in the past weeks that their real desire is regime change. However, Hassan Rouhani's mandate for a second term as president is significant nonetheless. First, it demonstrated that the infighting in the regime's upper echelons of power for a larger share of the country's riches has reached unprecedented scale. And second, it underscored Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's mounting fear of social uprisings and rising influence of opposition forces. What will ensue is more of what we've seen in Rouhani's first term: a broken economy, human rights violations at home, terrorism abroad, and tumorous crises spreading across the regime's hold on power.

While President Trump basked in the flattery of Saudi Arabia's absolute monarchy on Friday, about 75 percent of Iranian voters turned out to repudiate an authoritarian populist and re-elect their moderate president, Hassan Rouhani. Mr. Rouhani ran against extremism and on the promise of human rights, civil liberties, rational economic management and engagement with the world - a platform that won him 57 percent of the vote to his opponent's 38.5 percent. It wasn't the first time Iranian voters expressed their preference for these values. They have done so repeatedly, overcoming every obstacle a repressive state can thrust in their way. The fact that such demands may not be met - and may even result in significant sacrifice for those who make them most vociferously - does not make them less meaningful, but more so.

The verdict is in. According to a New York Times analysis, while Trump was cementing his ties to Arab autocrats, a "moderate" was busy winning re-election in Iran. And lest you think I'm picking on the Times, the word "moderate" dominated coverage of Hassan Rouhani's re-election, including at CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. What a ridiculous farce. In reality, an anti-American jihadist beat a slightly-worse anti-American jihadist.  Under Rouhani (who truly rules by the permission of Iran's Guardian Council, a coalition of clerics and jurists that vets all presidential candidates), Iran has exported terror, propped up a genocidal Syrian regime, kidnapped and humiliated U.S. sailors, tested ballistic missiles in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, and - as the Post reported last month - actually "boosted" the regime's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia was a huge success. The Saudis wisely pandered to the new president's foibles, rolling out the red carpet for a lavish celebration. Even Trump's speech on Islam, a potential minefield, was generally well-received by his hosts. Yet while Trump's speech - and his strong criticism of Iran - may have been pleasing to his Gulf States' hosts, it should worry Americans. Pushing back on Tehran allows Trump to symbolically break with Obama's policies and is popular among congressional Republicans, but it is also dangerous, with the potential to undermine the nuclear deal, slow the fight against Isis, and embroil the United States more deeply in parochial regional struggles

Hassan Rouhani has won a clear victory to a second term as Iran's president. The turnout in Friday's election was close to 73 percent, with the incumbent taking some 56 percent of the over-40 million votes cast. Turnout in the last election in 2013 was roughly the same. But that year, Rouhani won only 50.7 percent of the vote. Still, the significance of this election is not that Rouhani won, but what he did in order to win. This was because, as I learned in discussions with those close to his campaign, in the weeks leading up to the election, his victory was no certainty. Many American observers assumed the election would be a referendum on the nuclear deal, and that Rouhani would coast to victory. But, for the most part, that was not the case. Unlike in the U.S. presidential campaign, none of the Iranian candidates threatened to rip up the deal. Even the most hardline candidate said that there was no going back on its terms.

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 press@uani.com.

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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