• 12 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 12, 2012

China Not Exempted from Sanctions

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that seven more countries that import Iranian oil, including India and Turkey, would be exempt from the oil sanctions going into effect in less than a month. (NYT 6/11/12Washington Post 6/11/12) Notably absent from the list of exempt nations is China, currently the largest importer of Iranian oil. (Bloomberg 6/12/12)

Meanwhile, one of the largest Chinese importers of oil, Sinopec, has reportedly turned down an offer to purchase discounted Iranian crude and will cut imports by up to a fifth this year, signaling a willingness to cooperate with the US sanctions regime. (Reuters 6/12/12)

“Moscow is a green light”

A call Monday night between Catherine Ashton and Dr. Saeed Jahlili seems to have confirmed negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran will continue in Moscow next week. (Al Monitor 6/11/12) Iranian negotiators agreed this morning ahead of talks to “discuss a proposal to curb production of high-grade uranium”. (The Moscow Times 6/12/12) This development follows statements by Iranian negotiators on Wednesday which raised the possibility of cancelling or delaying the Moscow talks. (NYT 6/6/12)

A European diplomat told Al Monitor that the Iranians “appear prepared to engage on our proposals”. He added, “We will respond to their ideas.” (Al Monitor 6/11/12) This sense of reciprocity was mirrored in comments by an Ashton spokesperson who said, “[Ashton] conveyed the E3+3′s readiness to respond to the issues raised by the Iranians in Baghdad.” (Al Monitor 6/11/12) On Monday, EU officials commented that Tehran had agreed to “discuss a proposal to curb its output of uranium enrichment”. (Reuters 6/12/12)

Report: Iran designing nuclear submarine

Perhaps in an attempt to raise the stakes going into negotiations, Iranian news sources are reporting that the nation is interested in building a nuclear-powered submarine. (Reuters 6/12/12) According to Mark Hibbs, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Many nuclear-powered submarines use as fuel uranium enriched to levels that could also be suitable for atomic bombs.” (Reuters 6/12/12) Although a long-term prospect, Hibbs also suggested the Iranian pursuit of a nuclear-powered submarine could be used to justify enrichment of uranium to weapons grade. (Reuters 6/12/12)

Iran’s Economy

The Iranian bank, Bank Parsian, has announced today it has discontinued payment guarantees for Iranian importers who buy Indian goods, because the bank has insufficient access to rupees, which would have allowed it to avoid Western sanctions. (Reuters 6/12/12) In January, Iran and India set up a “barter-like system” whereby 45% of their $10 billion per year oil trade would be paid in rupees, so that Indian exporters of other good could be repaid. (Reuters 6/12/12) 

Changing OPEC Dynamics

Despite falling oil prices, Saudi Arabia has called for OPEC to adopt a higher output target ahead of a meeting of OPEC members. (FT 6/11/12) In recent months, Saudi Arabia has been producing above OPEC’s official production ceiling, with the goal of keeping oil prices at or below $100 per barrel, while also replacing Iranian oil exports. (FT 6/11/12) Both Iran and Iraq, however, would prefer oil prices rise and would stand to benefit from increased oil revenues.

Stuxnet and Flame Linked

Computer scientists have partially linked the software codes and characteristics of the Flame virus and Stuxnet cyber weapon, widely reported to be a US and Israeli sponsored project to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. (Reuters 6/12/12)

Analysis: “ Iran’s Ahmadinejad limps into final year in office politically wounded but still swinging”

Iran’s president hardly seemed like a fading political force at a security summit in Beijing last week. Leaders from China and Russia carved out time to hold private talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and gave him center stage to unleash his pet theories about the unraveling of Western power.

But Ahmadinejad always seems to catch a second wind on the road. It’s at home where his political wounds are most visible and his expiration date is already factored into high-stakes calculations.

The one-time favored son of Iran’s theocracy — its flame-throwing populist in a common man’s wind breaker or bureaucrat’s off-the-rack suit — is now limping into his last year in office sharply weakened and in the unexpected position as an outcast among hard-liners. (AP 6/11/12)

Posted By Jessica Schieder

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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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