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

Iran News Roundup 01/18

Israel acknowledges Iran has yet to decide to pursue a nuclear weapon

Israeli officials will reportedly present an intelligence assessment next week that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon. This comes as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey visits Israel next week. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel is “very far off” from making a decision about a military strike against Iran. (Haaretz 01/18).

Obama has followed Bush’s Iran policy says former top State official

Nicholas Burns, the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the George W. Bush administration said that the Obama administration’s policy “has been very tough with Iran,” and “has essentially followed President Bush’s policy towards Iran in President Bush’s second term.” The statement comes amidst allegations by the GOP presidential candidates that president Obama’s Iran policy has been weak (Think Progress 01/17).

Mixed signals over Iran nuclear talks

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said that there are negotiations underway concerning the venue of date of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (Reuters 01/18). IAEA representatives will Iran’s IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran is ready to discuss “any issues” with the IAEA. (Reuters 01/17).

But a EU spokesman denied that there are new negotiations underway for talks, and anonymous diplomats called Iran’s claims “propaganda”. A British foreign office spokesman said, “There are no dates or concrete plans because Iran has yet to demonstrate clearly that it is willing to respond to Baroness Ashton’s letter and negotiate without preconditions” (Reuters 01/18).

India, Japan convey opposition to sanctions

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that India is not seeking a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank, which penalizes financial institutions who deal with Iran’s Central Bank. “We have accepted sanctions which are made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries,” said Mathai. “We continue to buy oil from Iran” (Reuters 01/17).

UK Chancellor George Osborne and Japan’s prime minister discussed the euro zone crisis and how they can work together to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon (The Guardian 01/18). Japan’s finance minister Jun Azumi said that U.S. sanctions on Iran, if imposed immediately, could have a ‘tremendous’ impact on Japan’s economy and voiced concern over the effectiveness of sanctions (AP 01/18). 

According to EU diplomats, the Danish presidency has proposed a full embargo on Iranian oil beginning July 1st, although there is no agreement yet.  This would give member states almost 6 months to fulfill existing contracts (Reuters 01/17).

Russia considers a war with Iran unacceptable

On Tuesday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said “Russia would consider any use of force against the territory of Iran unacceptable.” Russia will also expand its annual military exercises around the premise of a war that begins with an US-Iran conflict. Russia also criticized sanctions against Iran and said it would oppose any new UN sanction resolutions (Christian Science Monitor 01/17).  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said that a military attack against Iran would have disastrous consequences and trigger a chain reaction (NY Times 01/18). He also said sanctions and talks of a potential attack would undermine necessary negotiations (Huffington Post 01/18).

Notable opinion: 

In a Huffington Post op-ed, Maryam Zar warns against repeating the same policy mistakes with Iran that were made with Iraq:

Surprisingly however, no sooner have we encased the flag in Baghdad, that we are drumming a dull beat toward another war — this time, in a battle ground just next door: Iran.


A generation ago the U.S. placed its first round of sanctions against Iraq. Those left a population malnourished and disempowered, and angry at the U.S. Twenty years later when the U.S. invaded Iraq to supposedly liberate them, we were met with a resentful population that was distrusting of our motives. The bitter battle that ensued left a nation that was unmistakably once the cradle of civilization, in ruin. Today, Iraq is comprised largely of a hungry and uneducated populace that is willing to turn more readily to extremism than to the hard work of building a democracy.

Yet we are walking quickly toward risking the same outcome in Iran.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

In an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor, John Limbert and Bruce laingen list 5 reasons why a war with Iran must be avoided.

Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin warned that a war with Iran “would be a very bad option” (CNN 01/17).

Meanwhile, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Karim Elaibi will travel to Iran tomorrow in order to urge Iran to not close the strategic Strait of Hormuz (AP 01/18).

Iran’s Ministry of Education will soon publish separate school textbooks for boys and girls.

The New York Times reports that Iran has ordered extra security for its scientists in response to the assassination last week.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a proposal by Iran to mediate a political solution in Syria.

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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