Friday, July 7, 2017

Eye on Iran: Total's $1 Billion Iran Deal Isn't Likely To Herald More Investment As Banks Balk


   EYE ON IRAN
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"The reality was, business was still quite, quite risky even after the Iran deal, because the Iran deal was a nuclear cooperation deal plus," said Mark Wallace, CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "Big companies operate because of disclosure requirements, listing requirements, registration requirements, etc. on acceptable business risk, and I don't think that there was ever a time...that Iran has been an acceptable business risk." Iran was given moderate sanctions relief in early 2016 under the conditions of the Iran nuclear accord, orchestrated under the Obama administration the year prior, after international inspectors concluded the country had followed through on promises to dismantle sections of its nuclear program. But U.S. companies are still largely barred from doing business in Iran, and European companies who venture in risk running afoul of the United States.


Iran is targeting German companies in its bid to advance its missile program, in possible violation of an international agreement, and at least on occasion with the aid of a Chinese company, according to a damning recent report from a German intelligence agency. The 181-page report, published last month and released Tuesday by officials from the heavily industrialized southern German state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, warned that Iran is actively seeking "products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well missile technology." The Islamic Republic is targeting German companies through various fronts, according to the report.


Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas' political bureau, delivered his maiden speech July 5 in the Gaza Strip - the first speech he has made since he was elected to the position about two months ago. Israel's security apparatus followed the speech carefully in an effort to understand where the Hamas movement will be heading under the leadership of Haniyeh and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar. In the background hovers President Mahmoud Abbas' recent disengagement from Gaza. Instead of trying to appease tensions with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, head of Hamas' political bureau Ismail Haniyeh makes provocative statements about rapprochement with Iran. For one hour and 20 minutes, Haniyeh delivered a prepared speech in which he presented the main principles of his policies and his goals as the leader of the movement. Of course, his speech also served as a vehicle for transmitting messages and signals to his audience outside Gaza in an attempt to extricate Hamas from its current existential crisis.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS


Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned in Iran, issued a desperate plea for international assistance in an audio recording in which he asserted his innocence from spying charges and vowed to continue his hunger strike "until my death or freedom." "I am innocent-never done any crime in my life," he says in an audio recording his family released to the Washington Free Beacon. "Have been arrested unjustly by-for over 20 months. "I came to [Iran] based on the official invitation of its vice president for women and family affairs who also happened to send me a visa to speak at her conference," he says in the audio taped from inside Iran's notorious Evin prison.


At first, Clay Jones was flattered. Then he learned more, and was repulsed. Now, Jones, a self-syndicated political cartoonist based in Fredericksburg, Va., is declining the honor. Jones discovered this week that a cartoon of his lampooning the president had been awarded a citation in the Trumpism Cartoon and Caricature Contest, as announced Monday by Iran's House of Cartoon in Tehran. His cartoon spoofed Time magazine's 2016 selection of Trump as "person of the year" by drawing a comparison to Hitler, whom Time named its "man of the year" in 1938. Jones's issue with the competition is that he now believes it is anti-American and anti-free speech.


The US Senate on June 15 overwhelmingly passed a bill to impose new sanctions against Iran The Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act targets Iran's ballistic missile program, its alleged support for terrorism and its human rights violations. It also includes new sanctions against Russia. The House of Representatives has found that the Senate bill violates a constitutional requirement that any bill that raises revenue for the government must commence in the House, thus stalling its finalization. While US officials claim that the Senate bill complies with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there are disagreements between Iranian officials and scholars in the interpretation of the move and its impact on the nuclear deal. At the very least, a majority agree that the new sanctions hurt the spirit of the JCPOA.

SANCTIONS RELIEF


Iran exported €2.77 billion worth of goods to the European Union in the first quarter of 2017, registering a sixfold rise compared with the preceding year's corresponding period.Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances and mineral waxes accounted for the majority of Iran's exports to the EU during the period, with a total value of €25 billion, according to Eurostat's data shared with the Financial Tribune. Non-oil exports, however, still remain unimpressive. Fruit and nuts (€72 million) and plastic products (€48.5 million) were other top exports during the period. Iran has been ramping up exports, particularly hydrocarbons, over the past few months to regain a market share it lost during the years it was under trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council over the country's nuclear energy program.

SYRIA CONFLICT


In a meeting with Revolutionary Guards commanders, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei likened the Iranian missile attack launched from the Islamic republic against ISIS sites in the Syrian province of Deir el-Zour to an "act of worship" during the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, Iranian news agencies reported on Thursday. Iran's news agency ISNA said that the meeting between Khamenei and the leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) took place two weeks ago, a few hours after the missile strikes were launched the provinces of Kurdistan and Kermanshah. "What you have done is wonderful, may God accept your good deeds, this is what it means to worship in the month of Ramadan," he said. June 24 was the last day for the month of Ramadan in 2017.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS


The Iranian Human Rights Organization on Wednesday took foreign ambassadors in Iran on a tour to Evin prison in northern Tehran, ISNA reported. The tour was launched a day after Mohammad Javad Larijani, the organization's chief, said there is no political prisoner in Iran.  The ambassadors were briefed on the prison's programs for the inmates, including education and work opportunities, as well as health and sanitation status, Kazem Kharibabadi, the organization's deputy chief for international affairs told reporters.

SAUDI-IRAN TENSIONS


Iran's culture minister says Saudi Arabia has provided "written assurances" that it will meet all of Tehran's conditions with regard to ensuring security for Iranian pilgrims in the upcoming Hajj ceremony. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting on Thursday, Reza Salehi Amiri underlined Tehran's resolve to maintain the "dignity" of Iranian Hajj pilgrims, the Iran newspaper reported. "For this aim, we have taken all the possible paths. The Saudi Arabian side accepted the conditions required by Iran for [ensuring] the security of Hajj pilgrims and given [assurances] in writing," he added.

HUMAN RIGHTS


Three Azeri men and one Iranian man, all Protestant Christian converts, have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Iran, according to Mansour Borji, the advocacy director of Article 18, an organization that defends Christians in Iran. No evidence was presented by the prosecution during the trial to show the defendants had acted against national security, Borji told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). He added that Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court-who has issued sentences ranging from five to 15 years in prison to 16 Christian converts since April 2017-referenced a report by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the trial. The report was not included as evidence in the case files, Borji said, so the defense was unable to respond to its content.

OPINION & ANALYSIS


When world leaders gather this week in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will obviously not have a seat at the table, and considering the proposed agenda, he'd probably feel as if all eyes are on him. That's because, as current president of the G20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel set a high bar for this year's Summit in Hamburg, putting forth a series of lofty priorities, including three that all tie directly back to Tehran: combatting terrorist financing, fighting corruption and addressing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. By highlighting these specific areas and challenging G20 nations to assume responsibility for them, Chancellor Merkel is putting Iran directly on notice.


Technically, Iran has its own two-stage solid-fueled MRBM, as evidenced by the Sejjil-2 program (formerly called the Ashura) which was last successfully flight-tested in 2011 but previously had a mixed track record. Fielding a reliable and road-mobile solid-fueled MRBM would allow Tehran to increase the mobility of its missile force while decreasing launch-preparation time. Currently, Iran's solid-fuel missiles have not expanded beyond several classes of the same short-range ballistic missile, which reportedly performed poorly in a recent strike on Syria. North Korean and Iranian defense ties are robust and long-standing, rooted in Tehran's desperate search for international partners during the 1980 to 1988 Iran-Iraq War. In addition to the Soviet Scuds Iran procured from Libya and Syria, North Korean missiles like the Nodong (renamed the Shahab-3) formed the backbone of Tehran's early missile arsenal.


Business is increasingly intermixed with politics in Iran's relations with the world - to the potential detriment to both. For instance, recent developments in bilateral ties indicate that Iran's longtime economic partner Germany is keen to take advantage of the opening provided by the nuclear deal. At a June 27 meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country is eager to bring investment into Iran. However, Gabriel made the latter conditional on further efforts by Tehran to help end regional political crises. The strongest European economy is thus in effect offering the investment Iran needs to create jobs in exchange for the country's playing a "constructive" role in the Syria, Yemen and Lebanon crises. European countries are pressuring Iran to change its foreign policy in exchange for profitable trade deals, but this approach may backfire and damage the standing of incumbent moderates in Tehran. 


From its very inception, the Iranian regime has relied on extreme violence against its own people to retain a grip on power, and from mass murder in its prison system, to torture, to public hangings, this cycle of violence has continued for almost four decades. With all ages being targeted, from children as young as twelve to elderly men in their nineties, it has been estimated that over 120,00 have already been executed in Iran for various crimes against the state. Leading up to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's return, from exile on 1 February 1979, with rioting on the streets having lasted several months, the Shah's ill-trained military had begun to open fire on unarmed civilians, killing hundreds in the process. So, with the Shah now gone, and his troops lacking the ability to quell the mass of revolutionary movements ranged against them, they decided it was time to declare neutrality.









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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