Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Eye on Iran: Iran Rejects Talks On Missiles, But Says It Will Not Increase Range

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Iran on Tuesday dismissed calls from the United States and Europe for curbs on its ballistic missiles, but said it had no plans to increase their range. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions, saying the accord did not address the Islamic republic's ballistic missiles and what he saw as its malign influence on the region. 

A payment mechanism the EU hopes will save the Iran nuclear deal by bypassing US sanctions is ready, diplomats said Monday, but is held up by disagreements among European countries. The "Special Purpose Vehicle" is being put together by Germany, France and Britain, the European signatories to the 2015 accord that curbed Tehran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions reilef.

Senior U.S. officials say an international conference on the Middle East in Warsaw next month will not have an anti-Iran agenda. "This is not an anti-Iran meeting or coalition-building exercise," a senior U.S. administration official told a January 28 telephone briefing with journalists. The February 13-14 Ministerial to Promote Peace and Stability in the Middle East will include sessions on the situations in Syria and Yemen, missile development, terrorism and illicit finance, and cybersecurity, U.S. and Polish officials have said.


...President Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has previously mocked the E.U. for being light on detail for how its evasion mechanisms will work. "The European Union is strong on rhetoric and weak on follow-through," he told the United Against a Nuclear Iran campaign. "We do not intend to allow our sanctions to be evaded by Europe or anybody else." Mr. Bolton also issued unsubtle warnings to Iran's leaders: "We are watching, and we will come after you."


he United States has filed criminal charges against Huawei, escalating its fight against the Chinese tech giant and potentially complicating efforts by Washington and Beijing to negotiate an end to their bruising trade war. The Justice Department on Monday unsealed two cases against Huawei that detail a slew of allegations. One indictment accuses Huawei of trying to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile (TMUS), and of promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information on competitors. A second indictment claims the company worked to skirt US sanctions on Iran.

The European Union is on the verge of launching an alternative channel to send money to Iran that would sidestep US sanctions against the Islamic republic, Germany's foreign minister said Monday. The "special purpose vehicle," or SPV, is part of EU efforts to keep alive an international agreement aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. The future of the UN Security Council underwritten pact was thrown into doubt when President Donald Trump pulled out last year slamming it as a "horrible, one-sided deal."


Tehran announced on Monday it was not holding talks with France over its ballistic missile program. "There has been no talks, whether secret or not secret, about our missile program with France or any other country," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a weekly news conference, broadcast live on state TV.


The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man after he was found guilty of charges related to violations of Iran's anti-gay laws, according to the state-controlled Iranian Students' News Agency. The unidentified man was hanged on January 10 in the southwestern city of Kazeroon based on criminal violations of "lavat-e be onf" - sexual intercourse between two men, as well as kidnapping charges, according to ISNA. Iran's radical sharia law system prescribes the death penalty for gay sex.

A major international labor union has called on Iran to immediately release several labor activists whom it says appear to have been tortured in custody late last year. The London-based International Transport Workers' Federation made the appeal in a letter addressed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, shared with VOA Persian on Monday.


The choice of Warsaw as a staging ground for U.S. efforts to build an alliance against Iran has done little to rally European Union nations, long at odds with Poland over the erosion of democratic norms and media freedoms. Few have answered the call before an unprecedented international summit planned in Poland next month. Given the existing divide over the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, it's instead fed controversy and underscored the challenge of building a consensus with America's allies on Iran. 

It has been 1,110 days since Jason Rezaian, then The Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran, was released from Iran's notorious Evin prison. In that time, he has recuperated, studied at Harvard on a fellowship, restarted his life in Washington along with his wife, Yeganeh, and returned to The Post's headquarters as an opinion writer. He also wrote a book about the 544 days he endured in captivity. "Prisoner," published earlier this month, is a gripping, moving and sometimes absurd recounting of his prolonged detention. 


A member of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) has said that after its latest meeting on Saturday, January 26, he was threatened with death. Majid Ansari told ISNA news agency he will ask Iran's security and judicial organs to investigate the death threat against him, but he did not provide any details as to exactly how the threat was made.

With the Iranian public's growing discontent with moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the country's Reformists are trying to keep him at arm's length. But this has done little to appease voters who blame most of the government inadequacies in recent years on the political behavior of the Reform movement. The last litmus test for Reformists came in 2017 when they took over city council seats in the capital Tehran and other major constituencies after landslide victories in local polls held in parallel with the presidential vote.

With a young and increasingly digitized population, Iran has witnessed a unique surge in the number of domestically produced apps for Iranian smartphone users. Although some of these apps mimic programs produced by Western companies that cannot penetrate the Iranian market due to sanctions and censorship, Iranian app developers have produced a number of inventive products that allow users to exercise some political rights despite the rigid censorship regime.


The Israeli government has passed information to the United Nations detailing the existence of additional "underground infrastructure" belonging to Hezbollah along the Israeli-Lebanese border, The Times of Israel has learned, including tunnels headed toward Israeli territory that were not destroyed in the IDF's recent Operation Northern Shield.

Iran struck economic and trade deals with Syria on Monday, as it widens its role there after helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reclaim most of his country. Tehran has reached "very important agreements on banking cooperation" with Syria, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said in the Syrian capital Damascus. Iran will also help repair power stations across Syria and set up a new plant in the coastal province of Latakia, he added.

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander on Monday threatened Israel with destruction if it attacks Iran, state media reported. The comments by Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, followed an Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria last week - the latest in a series of assaults targeting Tehran's presence there in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government.


Deadlines for a retreat of Houthi troops in Yemen, agreed in talks last month, have had to be delayed, the UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has said. He also conceded plans for prisoner exchanges have not gone to plan. Griffiths also had to deny that the retired general Patrick Cammaert, appointed by the UN to implement the ceasefire in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, had quit due to disagreements with Griffiths's team.

Iran's foreign minister says the United Arab Emirates has adopted an "unacceptable approach" toward Iranian businesses operating in this Gulf Arab state. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quotes Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Monday the UAE "has entered an unacceptable stage of approach toward Iran." Zarif said despite "extensive economic relations" between the two countries, the Gulf federation has had made "strategic and political mistakes, particularly over Yemen."

Every Friday, on the fourth floor of a hotel conference center in this Arab business hub, several thousand Christians arrive to worship in two-hour shifts at what may be the world's best-hidden megachurch. There is no sign outside the center to guide people to Fellowship. The Protestant congregation sprang up roughly a decade ago in a place where Islam is the official religion, non-Muslim practice has long been closely monitored and sanctioned church buildings are limited and regulated.


In the news that emerged from Doha, the capital of Qatar, that apparently there is an agreement between the United States and the Afghan Taliban, the key word is "apparently." Appearances, chances, possibilities and cautious optimism have accompanied the innumerable talks that the Americans have held with Taliban representatives since Afghanistan was occupied by the United States in 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks. 


Polish prosecutors are investigating an anti-Semitic protest by dozens of far-right nationalists outside the gates of Auschwitz. The incident took place Sunday in Oswiecim, the southern Polish town where Nazi Germany operated Auschwitz during World War II. It happened as Holocaust survivors gathered nearby to commemorate the anniversary of the camp's liberation, a day also recognized each year as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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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