Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Eye on Iran: Iran Says Will Act On U.S. Court Ruling On Trump's Travel Ban

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Iran said on Wednesday it would take "reciprocal action" in response to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing a partial implementation of President Donald Trump's travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries. Lower U.S. courts had completely blocked Trump's executive order issued on March 6, which includes a blanket 90-day ban on people from countries including Iran and Libya and a 120-day ban on all refugees. But the Supreme Court on Monday ruled there could be partial restrictions placed on refugees.  The decision is "an indication of the decision of the leaders of that country to discriminate against Muslims," Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi was cited as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). "The Islamic Republic of Iran, after carefully examining the recent decision of the Supreme Court of America, will take proportional and reciprocal action," Qassemi said. He did not elaborate.

Iran is accusing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of "a brazen interventionist plan" to change the current government that violates international law and the U.N. Charter. Iran's U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated Tuesday that Tillerson's comments are also "a flagrant violation" of the 1981 Algiers Accords in which the United States pledged "not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." Tillerson said in a June 14 hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the 2018 State Department budget that U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons "and work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government." "Those elements are there, certainly as we know," he said.

As congressional negotiators attempt to clear a key technical hurdle preventing a popular Russia and Iran sanctions bill from final passage, some lawmakers are expressing new concerns over the breadth of energy sanctions in the legislation. Oil industry executives and some foreign diplomats are prodding them to water down the measure, approved in the Senate earlier this month on a 97 to 2 vote. The bill would codify and step up existing sanctions on Russia's energy, banking and defense sectors, while adding new restrictions on intelligence, metals, mining and railways industries as punishment for Moscow's aggressive actions in Ukraine and Syria and alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. Aides in both parties describe behind-the-scenes worries over a change to a 2014 prohibition against U.S. companies participating in oil development ventures on Russian territory. The bill broadens that to restrict participation in any potential oil production project, anywhere, in which a Russian energy company is involved.


Advocates of sanctions against Iran for its human rights abuses and support of terrorism applauded the FATF announcement. "Myriad risks, including the funding of terror proxies like Hezbollah, the use of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps front companies to launder money, and cybersecurity hacking, show that Iran has a long way to go before becoming a responsible and trustworthy business partner," said Amb. Mark Wallace, CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) On Tuesday, Iran expressed its frustration with FATF. "Even though we regard the recent FATF decision as a step forward, we announce that this positive measure does not satisfy Iran so we will continue to follow up the matter to provide the Iranian people with their full rights," Iran's Economy Ministry declared in a statement.

The Economy Ministry has issued a statement through its anti-money laundering division, providing a mixed reaction to the recent verdict of the Financial Action Task Force concerning Iran. "Even though we regard the recent FATF decision as a step forward, we announce that this positive measure does not satisfy Iran so we will continue to follow up the matter to provide the Iranian people with their full rights," the statement reads, according to Shada, the ministry's official news outlet...A number of officials had stressed before the meeting of the global AML/CFT standard-setting body that the US is using its influence to sway FATF members in making a decision against Iran. They cited an article in the Wall Street Journal by former US senators Joseph Lieberman and Mark Kirk with the lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran, which called for stricter measures against Iran as the latest string of evidence.


Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blasted the Trump administration's temporary ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, but the response in the rest of the Middle East to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow its partial implementation was more muted. After the Supreme Court on Monday narrowed the scope of the ban but allowed it to go into place, Mr. Zarif on Tuesday tweeted that it was discriminatory and didn't accomplish its objectives. "A bigoted ban on Muslims will not keep [the] U.S. safer," he said. "Instead of policies empowering extremists, [the] U.S. should join the real fight against them."

Iran says the US. Supreme Court's decision to reinstate parts of a travel ban applied to six Muslim-majority countries is "racist" and "unfair." Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by state TV Wednesday as saying it is "regrettable" that Washington "closes its eyes to the main perpetrators of terrorist acts in the U.S," without elaborating. The Supreme Court on Monday allowed President Donald Trump to forge ahead with a limited version of his ban on travelers from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. The justices will hear full arguments in October in the case. Critics say the ban is intended to meet Trump's campaign promise of keeping Muslims out of the country. The administration says the restrictions are needed to keep out terrorists while it tightens vetting procedures.

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from survivors of a 1997 terrorist attack who want to seize museum pieces in U.S. collections to help pay a $71.5 million default judgment against Iran. The justices said Tuesday they will review a lower court ruling that said the U.S. victims of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem couldn't go after collections of Persian artifacts at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago. The victims accused Iran of providing training and support to Hamas, which carried out the attack They won a judgment and sought assets to pay it after Iran refused to pay The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Iran didn't own some of the collections and said other artifacts were immune under U.S. law.

President Trump's top diplomat at the United Nations said Tuesday that she's worried Iran will acquire nuclear weapons and provide them to terrorist groups, with the tacit support of the Russians. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told a House Appropriations subcommittee that she believes the Iran nuclear agreement reached under the Obama administration will only "delay something that's going to happen," which is Iran's achievement of a nuclear weapon. She said that poses the risk that Iran could share that technology with terrorist groups it supports. "They're going to continue their nuclear capabilities and we just gave them a lot of money to do it with," she said. "And my concern is they are associating with are all the groups we're trying to defeat." "So, not only did we give that capability to Iran, we are now giving it to those terrorist organizations we're trying to defeat," she added.

A warning from the White House to Syrian President Bashar Assad about another possible chemical weapons attack was also aimed at two of Assad's key backers, Russia and Iran, the U.S ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday. During testimony before the House panel on foreign operations, Nikki Haley also called Assad "barbaric" and said she can't envision a "healthy Syria" if he remains in power. "The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message," Haley said. "That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the president's warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad." Her comments come about 12 hours after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. had "identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is making a quiet appeal to Iran's leaders to release an elderly American citizen detained on what the U.S. claims are trumped up charges of espionage, according to several officials. Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and U.N. refugee chief, wrote a highly confidential letter a week ago to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, to ask for the release on humanitarian grounds of Baquer Namazi, an 81-year-old retired UNICEF official. The U.N. chief's secret diplomacy provides a powerful illustration of how his much-maligned institution often provides unnoticed benefits to the United States. It also presents the U.N. chief with an opportunity to prove the U.N.'s value to skeptics at a time when he is seeking to bolster his relationship with the Trump administration, which wants to radically slash the U.N.'s budget.


The Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies abroad on Friday commemorated Qods (Jerusalem) Day, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan and established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to express support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel. The regime has not shied away from reiterating its call for Israel's destruction during the annual event. While the majority of people inside and outside of Iran (including Sunni Arabs) do not partake, Qods Day events held in several continents highlight the Islamic Republic's soft-power influence and global reach.


German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel appealed to all sides involved in the Qatar crisis to meet for direct talks to avoid a further escalation. At a news conference with his Iranian counterpart, Gabriel also said he expected Tehran to play a constructive role in the Qatar crisis and said he was working closely the KfW bank to make sure that business deals can be completed with Iran. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants, an allegation Qatar denies. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran and Germany must use all means to strengthen their financial ties.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says a nuclear deal with Iran has helped lower the risk of a major conflict in the Mideast and that Germany will do whatever is possible to hold all parties to it. After talks in Berlin with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Gabriel told reporters Tuesday that the deal was "a great sign of hope" for the region and had opened a "historic window" for rekindling relations with Tehran. He says: "Our clear position is we stand by this agreement." U.S. President Donald Trump has condemned the agreement. Gabriel did not mention any other countries in his comments. Zarif said he was "very happy to hear Germany takes it seriously."


Hundreds of members of the European Parliament have strongly condemned human rights violations by the Iranian government and also called for the blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) involved in multiple regional conflicts. According to Amnesty International, "Iran alone accounted for 55% of all recorded executions" in the world in 2016. Evidence by a senior cleric inside Iran confirmed that the current Iranian Justice Minister was a key member of the so called "Death Committee" that approved the mass executions of over 30,000 political prisoners, including several thousand women, in Iran in 1988 - a massacre which Amnesty International has described as a crime against humanity. Most of the victims were affiliated with the opposition PMOI. "We therefore call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council, to set up a commission of inquiry on the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran," a statement from the European Parliament read.

Before she begins her Wednesday morning, Iranian activist Masih Alinejad spends hours sifting through scores of videos and photos sent to her of women in Iran wearing white headscarves or white clothing as part of a growing online protest. To campaign against the obligatory wearing of headscarves - or hijabs - Alinejad last month encouraged women to take videos or photos of themselves wearing white and upload them on social media with the hashtag #whitewednesdays. "My goal is just empowering women and giving them a voice. If the government and the rest of the world hear the voice of these brave women then they have to recognize them," Alinejad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. Under Iran's Islamic law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes for the sake of modesty. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested.


On June 23, Iranian hard-liners once again attacked moderate President Hassan Rouhani, but this time was different. A group of hard-liners approached the president and chanted harsh slogans while he was marching in the streets to mark International Quds Day. Iranian hard-liners step up their attacks on recently re-elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Every year, Iranians take to the streets on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan to decry Israel for "occupying Palestinian lands." Various figures, including high-ranking officials, take part in the marches, but this time, a group of hard-liners came close to the president and chanted slogans against him that were interpreted as impolite and insulting. Among the slogans shouted at Rouhani, who was re-elected by a landslide on May 19, were "The American sheikh," "Rouhani, Banisadr, congratulations on your linkage" (in reference to Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran's first president who was impeached and later exiled), and "Down with hypocrites" (in reference to the outlawed opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq).

Iranian Revolutionary commander Mohammed Jaafari criticized President Hassan Rouhani's for accusing Tehran's elite guard of intervening in national economic decision-making processes. Jaafari said that the Rouhani administration has inexcusably failed to deliver on its financial commitments to the guard amid rising regional tensions. He said that the short-coming is at a time in which Iran needs more missile power than ever. He vowed his forces have both missiles and guns needed to protect the country, but stressed that "the Revolutionary Guards' silence will be exercised for purposes of national unity." Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani warned of the internal conflict rising over what party is held accountable for the rocket fire targeting Iranian posts last week on sites in Syria. Jaafari bashed Rouhani's leadership, saying that the re-elected leader is seeking to polarize the Iranian people whilst failing to deliver promises he made on advancing Iran's economic standing and public living.


Iran and North Korea have long cooperated in some aspects of their missile development and probably in some aspects of their nuclear programs as well. Some of the details of this cooperation are clear, but many are not-at least at the open-source level of data available outside the intelligence community. This raises critical issues in evaluating the progress each country is making in the development of its nuclear forces, and how much cooperation they still have in shaping their missile forces. It also raises the issue of how possible it is to establish effective arms-control efforts and stable structures of deterrence when key aspects of each country's military development can be affected by the actions of a distant and very different power. Containing, deterring, and defeating either Iran or North Korea is difficult enough when each nation is treated separately. It becomes far more difficult to the extent they are cooperating to develop missile and nuclear forces.

Immediately following the reelection of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last month, the country's Oil Ministry began boasting about its expectations that new investment deals with European nations would be signed before Rouhani took the oath for his second term later this summer. There doesn't appear to be much concrete information to back up these claims, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has a demonstrated track record of exaggerating its own prospects, both in terms of economic outcomes and military development. Yet, the latest rhetoric reflects political and diplomatic realities, including the likelihood of some Western policymakers and businessmen taking Rouhani's reelection as a cue to expand their relations with the Iranian regime. This is something that the whole world should be alarmed about.

On July 1, the Iranian opposition will be holding its annual rally to give voice to the Iranian people and their popular resistance movement and to reiterate the call for regime change in Iran. This is, of course, a message reflecting the true desire of the Iranian people and is widely endorsed by policymakers around the world, as evidenced by the hundreds of dignitaries who will attend the event. The "Free Iran" rally has significant implications for the policies being advanced around the world by persons with a clear understanding of the danger the Iranian regime poses to global security and the stability of the Middle East. This is especially important in the current historical moment, when assertive policies regarding the clerical regime in Iran are returning to the mainstream the world over. The gathering, with the National Council of Resistance of Iran at its center, takes place at the Villepinte Exhibition Center outside of Paris, and brings together critics of the totalitarian theocracy, including those whom the regime has brutally suppressed in the past 38 years.

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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