• 9 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/09

Defense Secretary Panetta: Iran seeking nuclear latency, not nuclear weapon

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on Face the Nation and said of Iran, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon.”  (Transcript: CBS Face the Nation 01/08(Think Progress 01/08).

Iran announces future enrichment at underground site as talks loom

On Friday, diplomats in Vienna said Iran has taken steps in preparation for uranium enrichment at the Fordo site. According to one diplomat, Iran began feeding uranium gas into centrifuges as part of preparations for enrichment (Reuters 01/06).

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Iran and international powers have in principle agreed to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Turkey. Additionally, Feireidoun Abbasi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said that Tehran has shown a new generation of centrifuges to the IAEA (Fars News Agency 01/08).

EU countries seek delay in oil embargo; threats over Strait of Hormuz 

Diplomats said on Friday that, although EU states agreed in principle to an embargo on Iranian oil, some European Union capitols have proposed “grace periods” of between one to 12 months because of economic considerations as Europe faces a debt-crisis (Huffington Post 01/07). Meanwhile, Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company said that it does not owe around $2 billion in oil shipments as claimed by Italy (Khaleej Times 01/07).

Ali Ashraf Nouri, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has been quoted as saying that Tehran’s leadership has decided to order the closure of the strategic Strait of Hormuz if Iran’s oil exports are blocked (Washington Post 01/08). U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta warned that the U.S. would respond if Iran tries to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz (AFP 01/08).

Central bank resignation denied

An Iranian official has denied rumors that the current governor of Iran’s central bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, has resigned amidst rising inflation and devaluation of the rial. Bahmani has been at odds with President Ahmadinejad over the appropriate response to Iran’s currency crisis (Reuters 01/07).

Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament passed a measure imposing legal penalties on unofficial money traders who sell foreign currencies outside official exchange offices (Reuters 01/08).  The Central Bank has raised interest on deposits while the state is filtering the word “dollar” from text messages (Enduring America 01/09)

U.S. national accused of spying sentenced to death

Iranian American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, accused of spying for the CIA in Iran, has been sentenced to death in a preliminary verdict by Iran’s Revolutionary Court (Christian Science Monitor 01/09).  His family has issued a statement denying the allegations and the State Department condemned the verdict, saying the accusations were untrue (The Envoy 01/09).

Parliamentary elections pose a challenge to Iranian authorities

An article in the The Guardian notes that the Parliamentary elections in March are being viewed by senior Iranian officials and analysts as the most sensitive in the history of the Islamic Republic, amid economic discontent, political dissent, and fears of an impending war (The Guardian 01/08).

Iran’s intelligence minister claims Iran has arrested several people on charges of spying for the United States and seeking to undermine the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iran. He said the suspects were in touch with their contacts through the Internet, but provided no further details (Washington Post 01/08).

Iran responds to rescue of Iranian fisherman 

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast welcomed the rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held by pirates by American forces, calling it a positive humanitarian gesture. But Iranian news outlets linked to the Revolutionary Guard called the rescue a dramatization of a routine event (Christian Science Monitor 01/07).

Notable opinion: 

In an op-ed for The Independent, National Iranian American Council president Trita Parsi argues that escalation and reckless discourse by both sides have made a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran probable:

If a new round of talks take place, there should be little doubt that negotiations will be tough. The divide between the two sides has grown as a result of the mutual escalation. And political space for the kind of sustained diplomacy needed to produce a breakthrough is in short supply in the US, Iran and the EU. Rather than a negotiation, we are likely to see yet another exchange of ultimatums. But if the EU repeats the mistake of 2010 and lets its mistrust overtake its judgement and imposes an oil embargo prior to the next meeting, then diplomacy will likely be dead on arrival.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Kurdish blogger and activist Rojin Mohemedi was released from Evin prison.

Iranian Civil society activist Sohrab Razzaghi has been tried in absentia and sentenced to twenty years in prison and €550,000 in fines.

Iran began a military maneuver near its border with Afghanistan days after naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, reports Reuters.

Posted By Ardavon Naimi

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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