• 3 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 3, 2012

US Increases Military Presence in the Persian Gulf

In response to proposed legislation in the Iranian parliament to close the Strait of Hormuz, the United States has “quietly” moved additional fighter jets, minesweepers, stealth warplanes, and other military reinforcements into the region. Navy ships are in place patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, reportedly to ensure that the waterway isn’t mined. “The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even think about it,’” one senior Defense Department official said (NYT 7/3The Guardian 7/3).

The senior Defense Department official added, “This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions,” (NYT 7/3).

Second Day of War Games Continues in Iran

Today is the second day of war games in the north-central desert area of Semnan province in Iran by Revolutionary Guards Corps. The efficiency of warheads and missile systems, including the Shahab 3 missile and unmanned drones, are being tested partially in response to the implementation of an EU embargo on Iranian oil. Iran has announced a new ballistic missile called Arm, which allegedly has the capacity to detect and hit radar bases (WSJ 7/2; Reuters 7/3).

Russian Think Tank Suggests Russia Could Sell S-300s to Iran

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, commented today during an interview of anti-aircraft missile sales that, “The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions.”  He suggested, “If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn’t like the outcome” of a peaceful transition to a new government, “it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran” (Bloomberg 7/3).

NITC and Sinopec Struggle to Resolve Freight Dispute

Sinopec has nominated 12 million barrels of Iranian crude for delivery in the first 20 days of July, but Iran has no named a vessel to carry out the delivery. As a result of sanctions, China must now rely on National Iranian Tanker Company’s vessels. An Iranian oil official speaking on anonymity said “There is some problem between NITC and (Sinopec’s trading arm) Unipec over the freight issue,” adding, “I hope this can be solved very soon,” (Reuters 7/3).

Technical Talks Begin in Istanbul

Technical talks to discussed unresolved issues after unsuccessful talks in Moscow have begun in Istanbul, even as military exercises continue in Iran. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement, “We hope Iran will seize the opportunity of this meeting to show a willingness to take concrete steps to urgently meet the concerns of the international community, to build confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to meet its international obligations,” (Bloomberg 7/3).

Israeli Defense Minister Sees Iranian “Break-Out” in Several Years

In an interview with Thomas Friedman, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said of the Iranian nuclear “break-out” period, “In my judgment …  if nothing will be done about it, within several years Iran will turn nuclear,” which appeared to be a more distant timeline than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment. He added that there were no differences between U.S. and Israeli intelligence estimates on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program as there had been in the past (Foreign Policy 7/2).

Iran Prefers a “Win-Win” with the P5+1 Over Confrontation

Iran has said it wants a “win-win” outcome in its talks with the P5+1, adding that the only other choice is confrontation (AP 7/2). Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, “In the talks, the other side has no choice but to find an agreement; otherwise, confrontation will be the alternative. I don’t think that common sense is looking for a confrontation” (AP 7/2).

Iranian Agents Interrogated in Kenya

Two Iranian agents of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi, were arrested in Kenya yesterday with 33 pounds of RDX, an explosive, in the city of Mombasa. The two were interrogated by Israeli agents, suggesting their intended targets were Israeli-owned properties in the area of Mombasa (The Telegraph 7/2).

OPEC, Iran Production Down

OPEC production is down for the second month in a row, largely due to a fall in Iranian output. Crude production is down to 31.50 million bpd in June from 31.65 million bpd in May. Iranian production, alone, dropped 150,000 bpd during that time period (WSJ 7/2).

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has said Iran has discovered new crude reserves near its western Yadavaran oil field, which could add as much as 6 billion barrels to the nation’s recoverable reserves, according to the Oil Ministry’s news agency (Bloomberg 7/3).

UN Drug Watchdog Rebukes Anti-Semitic Speech

Yury Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, expressed “dismay and serious concern” in response to Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi’s anti-Semitic comments during a global drug enforcement conference in Tehran last week (Reuters 7/3).

UANI Campaign Against Lebanese Banking Sector

New York-based United Against Nuclear Iran is putting pressure on Wall Street and European investors to abandon holdings in Lebanese debt and securities, claiming that the Lebanese system is being used by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to launder money and evade international sanctions. The letter accuses Lebanon of being a “sovereign money launderer”. There are, however, concerns that Washington’s allies in Lebanon could be harmed if Beirut’s financial position in the region is weakened (WSJ 7/2).

Berman Asks that Tanzania Stop Reflagging Iranian Ships

Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) has sent a letter to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete asking that Tanzania stop reflagging Iranian oil tankers with the Tanzanian flag, which has allowed Iranian vessels to continue transporting crude exports despite sanctions (WSJ 7/2).

Repair Normalizes Turkey-Iran Gas Flow

Iran has renewed normal gas flow to Turkey on Monday following an explosion of the pipeline last week (Reuters 7/2).

Notable Opinions:

-“Why the Next Round of Iran Nuclear Talks Could Yield Results”

Ali Vaez writes for Al-Monitor that expectations for P5+1 talks in Istanbul, which start today, should be higher because the hype is lower:

It was during the third meeting in Moscow that for the first time the negotiating parties engaged in substantive discussions over their proposed packages. No agreement was reached, but in retrospect the diplomatic march has followed a logical path: gradually moving from stagnation and no dialogue to a clearer understanding of the other side’s perspectives. Although the two parties remain poles apart, getting rid of chimerical expectations could be an achievement in itself. Tehran now knows that the damaging momentum of sanctions cannot be stifled with a few reversible confidence building measures. Similarly, Washington and Brussels have realized that while sanctions are taking their toll, they are unlikely to force Iran to compromise.

It appears that the decision to continue the discussion at a lower level emanates from this sense of realism. But even if it was an eleventh-hour attempt to buy time and stave off an Israeli military attack, the series of sporadic and high-level meetings had slender chance for success. Short and haphazard sittings among senior representatives left too many gaps, which were filled with posturing and political brinksmanship in the interregnum between the talks. In contrast, technical meetings can take place in a less charged atmosphere. As such, they could offer a suitable avenue for essential duologue between Iranian and American negotiators, without the fear of stirring up a political hornet’s nest back home.

Read the full article at Al-Monitor

– “EU oil embargo could radicalise Iran further and lead to war”

Milad Jokar in Public Service Europe puts current US-Iranian tensions into a historical context, discussing the destabilization and radicalization engendered by previous American interventions in Iran:

Ultimately, the British were successful. Mossadegh was removed from office and replaced by a more malleable monarchy that accepted an international consortium in the AIOC. This success, however, was short-sighted and unsustainable. It helped light the fuse of a bomb that would explode just two and a half decades later in 1979 with a revolution, which would itself bring a hostage crisis and eight-year Iraq-Iran war that killed almost one million people. The sanctions and coup d’état were a devastating mistake that misjudged the will of the Iranian people and was a major factor in the emergence of a radicalised version of Iranian independence that still haunts us to this day.

So will history repeats itself? With a new oil embargo now in effect – the EU and the US appear to be headed down a similarly disastrous path that will further radicalise Iran’s power structure and exacerbate further tensions and instability. History has demonstrated that an oil embargo is an extremely uncertain move that can spin escalation out of control. More worrying is that as the west escalates the dispute, Tehran will respond in kind – as the last three decades have demonstrated.

Read the full article at Public Service Europe

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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