Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eye on Iran: Trump Hints U.S. Could Withdraw From Iran Deal

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President Trump suggested the U.S. could have reason to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, he said in an interview published Tuesday and Wednesday. "I think they'll be noncompliant," Mr. Trump told the Wall Street Journal, in reference to Iran's observance of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which comes up for recertification in three months. "I think they're taking advantage of this country," the president said. Mr Trump campaigned against the Iran deal during his run for the White House and has repeatedly called it "one of the worst deals in history." The president also established that he would be comfortable overruling recommendations from his staff regarding the Iran Deal.

Two enemies of America are poised for upcoming rocket launches, two senior U.S. officials told Fox News, with another North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch expected as soon as Wednesday night and Iran on the verge of sending its own vehicle into space. Iran's Simorgh space-launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a satellite, marking the second time in more than a year that Tehran has attempted to put an operational satellite into orbit -- something the Islamic Republic has never done successfully, according to one of the officials who has not authorized to discuss a confidential assessment. Iran's last space launch in April 2016 failed to place a satellite into orbit, the official said. The intelligence community is currently monitoring Iran's Semnan launch center, located about 140 miles east of Tehran, where officials say the "first and second stage airframes" have been assembled on a launch pad and a space launch is expected "at any time," according to the official.

The U.S. Congress has struck a deal to send President Donald Trump a bill that could limit his power to lift sanctions against Russia.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said he reached an agreement with leaders in the House of Representatives to vote on their version of the legislation, passed Tuesday in a 419-to-3 vote. It includes sanctions on North Korea that Corker previously said could hold the bill up. The original Senate bill addressed only Iran and Russia and passed that chamber by 98-2 last month. "The Senate will move to approve the Iran and Russia sanctions it originally passed six weeks ago, as well as the North Korea sanctions developed by the House," Corker, the Tennessee Republican, said in a statement. "Going forward, the House has committed to expeditiously consider and pass enhancements to the North Korea language, which multiple members of the Senate hope to make in the very near future." Passage would force Trump to either sign away part of his authority for unilateral action on sanctions against Russia or veto a bill that appears to have enough support to override an attempt to block it from becoming law.


The Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel, senior U.S. officials said. The inspections are one element of what is designed to be a more aggressive approach to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. While the Trump administration seeks to police the existing deal more strictly, it is also working to fix what Trump's aides have called "serious flaws" in the landmark deal that - if not resolved quickly - will likely lead Trump to pull out. That effort also includes discussions with European countries to negotiate a follow-up agreement to prevent Iran from resuming nuclear development after the deal's restrictions expire in about a decade, the officials said. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the efforts publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The inspections requests, which Iran would likely resist, could play heavily into Trump's much-anticipated decision about whether to stick with the deal he's long derided.


Since his brother and father were arrested and imprisoned while visiting Iran nearly two years ago, Babak Namazi has been trying to persuade the U.S. government to step up its fight for their freedom. Both inmates - 45-year-old Siamak Namazi and 81-year-old Baquer Namazi - are Iranian American dual nationals who were convicted of espionage in a secret trial last year and are now serving 10-year sentences in Tehran's Evin Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions. "You always think the worst and it paralyzes me," said Babak Namazi. Now it appears that the family's quest for their release is gaining traction. The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday calling for Iran to release all U.S. citizens and legal residents being held for political purposes. The White House had already started to elevate the issue. Last week, it threatened "new and serious consequences" if Iran did not release all imprisoned U.S. citizens. That prompted Iran to call for the U.S. to release Iranians it is holding, suggesting to some experts that Iran is willing to negotiate a trade.


U.S. lawmakers are near an agreement that would pave the way for the Senate to vote on legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Wednesday.  Republican Senator Bob Corker told reporters he expected an agreement would be announced as soon as Wednesday evening However, he did not say whether the Senate version of the bill would strip out language imposing sanctions on North Korea, as he had suggested earlier in the day.  The sanctions bill passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously on Tuesday, in a rebuke to Republican President Donald Trump, whose administration had lobbied against some aspects of the measure

The House passed a resolution on Wednesday urging Iran to release American prisoners being held as hostages. Lawmakers approved the resolution by a voice vote a day after passing a sanctions package that included measures targeting Iran for its ballistic missile development. "I hope that this resolution sends a strong message to Iran that this practice will not be tolerated," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the author of the resolution and former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I hope that it sends a strong message to our own administration that Congress is heavily invested in the fate of Americans being held by Iran," she added. The bipartisan resolution was cosponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). The Iranian government has taken several American citizens and permanent residents as prisoners in recent years as a way to demand concessions from the U.S.


Iran will reciprocate if the United States imposes new sanctions on it, president Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday according to state media, casting further doubt over the outlook for the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea, although it was unclear how quickly the bill would make its way to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law or veto.  State media quoted Rouhani as citing a verse from the Koran saying: "If the enemy puts part of their promises underfoot then we will also put part of it underfoot. And if they put all of their promises underfoot then we will put promises underfoot." But he added: "The Koran also advises that if enemies are really pursuing peace and want to put enmity aside and act appropriately toward you, then you should do the same."  He said that parliament would take the initial steps in responding to any U.S. moves and that any necessary further steps would also be pursued.

Russia and Iran warned they were edging closer to retaliation against Washington after the House of Representatives backed new U.S. sanctions, while the European Union said the move might affect its energy security and it stood ready to act too. The lower house of the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea Tuesday and to force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers' permission before easing any punitive measures on Russia. "This is rather sad news from the point of view of Russia-U.S. ties," said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman. "We are talking about an extremely unfriendly act," that would hurt bilateral ties and international trade, he said. He said President Vladimir Putin would decide if and how Moscow would retaliate once the fresh sanctions became law, while Russia's deputy foreign minister warned the move was taking bilateral relations into uncharted waters, killing off any hope of improving them in the near future. The sanctions still need to be approved by the Senate and by Trump himself.


When Zuao Ru Lin, a Beijing entrepreneur, first heard about business opportunities in eastern Iran, he was skeptical. But then he bought a map and began to envision the region without any borders, as one enormous market, reads a New York Times article published on Tuesday. Excerpts follow: "Many countries are close by, even Europe," Lin, 49, said while driving his white BMW over the highway connecting Tehran to the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad recently. "Iran is at the center of everything." For millenniums, Iran has prospered as a trading hub linking East and West. Now, that role is set to expand in coming years as China unspools its "One Belt, One Road" project, which promises more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investment-bridges, rails, ports and energy-in over 60 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. Iran, historically a crossroads, is strategically at the center of those plans.


The two opposition leaders who disputed the results of Iran's 2009 presidential election, triggering mass protests, are in poor health and one has been hospitalized after a heart attack, news outlets cited family members saying. Mirhossein Mousavi and fellow reformist Mehdi Karroubi became figureheads for Iranians who took to the streets after the vote they believed was rigged to bring back hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds arrested in the crackdown that followed, according to human rights groups. The pair have been under house arrest since 2011, along with Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard, after they called for demonstrations in Iran in solidarity with the pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East in that year. Their continued detention is a highly divisive issue in Iran. One of President Hassan Rouhani's top campaign promises before he was re-elected in May was to work for their release, infuriating hardliners who view them as traitors. The news that the pair are in poor health is likely to raise pressure on Rouhani from his supporters to push harder for their release. It could unleash more protests if they were to die under house arrest.


There's trouble in the Gulf, where a hijacked news website has helped kick off a blockade of Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their allies have cut off a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), citing as justification fake news stories that the Emiratis themselves allegedly planted. The conflict started when several statements attributed to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani appeared on the Qatar News Agency's website and the government's official Twitter feed. The comments, which the Qataris quickly dismissed as the result of a hack, strayed from the Arab Gulf consensus on hot-button issues such as relations with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Israel. The Saudi-led bloc rejected that explanation and on June 5 severed diplomatic relations with Doha and also halted air, sea, and land transportation to the gas-rich state. Despite the mounting evidence that the offending news stories were contrived, the blockade has remained in place through extensive diplomatic intervention from abroad. The confrontation, which threatens stability in a region critical to U.S. interests, is bad enough.

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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