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

Iran News Roundup 01/20

Terms of nuclear talks to be disclosed

The P5+1 released the  details of a letter sent to Iran last October demonstrating a willingness to hold talks with Iran amidst tough sanctions and speculation of a military conflict (Reuters 01/20).

Details of U.S. letter to Iran emerge

Laura Rozen reports the Obama administration used three channels of communication to deliver a message to Iran’s Supreme Leader regarding “red lines in the Strait of Hormuz” and conveying that the U.S. and its allies “remain committed to a diplomatic solution,” with Iran.  They sent the letter through the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, through the UN, and through Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Rozen also reports that European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton’s office has released her October letter to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, which outlined proposed terms for nuclear talks (Yahoo 01/20).

Sanctions Watch 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that “time is running out” for diplomacy with Iran and called for China and Russia to back increased sanctions on Iran.  “We need stronger, more decisive sanctions that stop the purchase of Iranian oil and freeze the assets of the central bank, and those who don’t want that will be responsible for the risks of a military conflict,” Sarkozy stated. (Reuters 01/20).

According to Reuters the Turkish refiner Tupras plans to cut its dependence on Iranian oil imports. Tupras officials are planning to meet with Saudi Arabia authorities this month to discuss alternative oil sources (Reuters 01/19).

The EU states have failed to agree on details of a planned embargo on Iran oil.  There was disagreement regarding the length of a planned grace period that would allow states to fulfill existing contracts for a period of time after the embargo (Reuters 01/19).

Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warning him not to weaken a law prohibiting foreign institutions from dealing with Iran’s central bank. “An unevenly applied interpretation would … call into question the seriousness of the sanctions policy and send mixed signals to both Iran and our allies,” both senators said (Reuters 01/19).

Reuters reports the Japan has told U.S. officials that it intends to keep cutting imports of Iranian oil (Reuters 01/20).

Accusation over Iran scientist assassination 

Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador Eshagh Al Habib said there is suspicion that the terrorist circles that carried out the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan used intelligence obtained from UN bodies. Habib said the UN might have played a role in leaking information about Iran’s nuclear facilities and scientist (Reuters 01/19).

On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei visited the families of two of the five scientists assassinated.

Russia and Iran trade domestic currency

Iranian ambassador to Russia Seyed Sajjadi said that Iran and Russia have started using their domestic currencies in bilateral trade, replacing the U.S. dollar in light of U.S. sanctions (Reuters 01/20).

Notable opinion: 

In an op-ed for CNN, president of the National Iranian American Council Trita Parsi discusses the recent dynamics of US-Israel relations over Iran:

Publicly, the two sides claim to share a common objective with Iran, though they may assess risks differently. In reality, the divisions are much deeper. Israel is firmly committed to the zero-enrichment objective espoused by the George W. Bush administration, i.e. that the only acceptable way to prevent Iranian bomb is by preventing it from having nuclear technology, period. “Enrichment in Iran is certainly unacceptable,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told me in October 2010.

The Obama administration has left this issue vague, neither rejecting nor accepting this red line. Israel fears that in a final agreement, the Obama White House would accept enrichment in Iran, a fear fueled by the administration’s attempt to exchange Iranian low enriched uranium for fuel pads for a research reactor in Tehran earlier in 2009. Both France and Israel argued that the deal would legitimize Iranian enrichment. In Israel’s view, Obama has made America’s red lines flexible and unreliable.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

The Guardian reports that Iranian state broadcaster Press TV has been forced off the air in the UK.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

On Thursday, the U.S. Navy said that a U.S. navy vessel aided a group of Iranian mariners near the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials said they have uncovered efforts by Iran to help Syria cover up its oil exports in order to circumvent U.S. and European embargos

A 5.5 earthquake struck the Iranian city of Neyshabur injuring at least 110 people.

Posted By Ardavon Naimi

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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