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  • 3 May 2012
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 0 Comments
  • Let's Talk Iran, Uncategorized

Oil Embargo: Third Time’s A Charm?

Sara Vakhshouri - Let's Talk Iran PodcastHow effective is an oil embargo on Iran? Will a third oil embargo bring about change in the Iranian government’s stance on their nuclear program? What are the Iranians doing to prepare in order to prevent their economy from collapsing? What are those countries who used to be consumers of Iranian oil doing to make sure their oil needs are still met? What are the unintended consequences of this embargo? These questions and more are answered by Dr. Sara Vakhshouri, President at SVB Energy and former advisor to the Director of the National Iranian Oil Company International.

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  • 25 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up, Uncategorized

Iran News Roundup 01/25

Will Israel Attack Iran?

New York Times magazine will run a cover story on whether an Israeli strike on Iran is imminent. According to the author, Ronen Bergman, “After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012” (New York Times Magazine 01/25).

Bergman is “one of a small circle of heavyweights in the Israeli media who spend a significant amount of time with the politicians, spies and generals who are going to make the ultimate decision” says Julian Borger in the Guardian.  But, he notes, Jeffrey Goldberg–who wrote an Atlantic cover story predicting Israel would strike Iran in 2011–thinks that Bergman’s assessment may be premature and that many of the officials quoted in Bergman’s piece are the same ones who convinced Goldberg that 2011 would be the year Israel would strike Iran.  Borger says, “Clearly, Israeli has a motive in conveying the impression that an attack might be imminent, to stir up urgency in the West to confront Iran. (The Guardian 01/25)

Iran to debate bill that would see an immediate halt to all European oil exports 

Iran may preempt a EU ban on Iranian oil, which will not go into effect for six months to avoid a cut off during peak winter months and to allow European states to find new suppliers. But Iran may decide to stop its European exports immediately.  “Many Iranian lawmakers and officials have called for an immediate ban on oil exports to the European bloc before its ban fully goes into effect in July, arguing that the 27 EU nations account for only about 18 percent of Iran’s overall oil sales and would be hurt more by the decision than Iran.” (Washington Post 01/25)

  • 20 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • 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).

  • 1 December 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 12/1

European ambassadors called back from Iran
In the wake of Tuesday’s attack on the UK embassy in Iran, several EU countries have voiced their disapproval.  The UK has not only pulled all of its diplomats from the country, but has closed the Iranian embassy in London, though this is not yet permanent.  The NY Times is reporting that Netherlands, Germany, and France have recalled their ambassadors, with Italy considering a similar move, and Norway closing its embassy “as a precaution” (NY Times 12/1).  The same article warns that such steps are likely to complicate any future attempts to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, as such diplomatic lines have served in the past as a means of contact especially for the U.S., which hasn’t had an embassy in Iran for over 30 years (despite what Michelle Bachmann may think).  Barbara Slavin writes that, while the downgrading of diplomatic relations with Iran might help further isolate Iran, this comes at the cost of increasing tensions that could spiral out of control (Slavin IPS 12/1).

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Israel may not notify U.S. if it strikes Iran
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Haaretz that the U.S. would be alerted by Israel if it attacks Iran.  Dempsey says that the U.S. believes sanctions and diplomatic pressure are the best way forward right now, but that he is “not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that” and may move without the U.S. (even if this forces the U.S. into war) (Haaretz 11/30).  This came the same day that President Obama told donors at a campaign event that Israel is the United States’ “most important ally” and we would not compromise when it comes to Israel’s security (Reuters 11/30).  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and raised American concerns about the unintended consequences of military strikes against Iran.  According to a report by AFP, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says that Israel is holding off an military strikes “for the moment” but that all options remain on the table for the future.

EU imposes new sanctions but oil embargo questionable
Today the EU decided to increase existing sanctions on Iran by placing travel bans on and freezing the assets of an additional 180 Iranian individuals and companies (Radio Free Europe 12/1).   Reuters is reporting that the UK has decided to support an oil embargo against Iran, whether it is “unilaterally or with France and Germany” (Reuters 11/30).  The Wall Street Journal writes that for the EU’s part, it has not yet decided on whether to implement an oil embargo against Iran, and that Greece is leading opposition to the measure, as they fear it could damage their struggling economy (Wall Street Journal 11/30).   With this increased talk of an oil embargo against Iran, Bloomberg reported today that crude oil is trading at a two week high, and concern over an embargo in the EU is a major driver for this (Bloomberg 12/1).

Additional Notable News:

The U.S.’s economic sanctions on Iran has created confusing conditions for Iranian Americans trying to send money to their families in Iran, reports NPR.

US News is reporting that Iranian sanctions could actually do more harm to the West than to their intended targets in Iran.

The Financial Times reports that the recent increase in tensions with the West are pushing Iranian politicians to ratchet up their rhetoric against the West.

Expanding international trade in surveillance technologies is a growing concern because, as a Washington Post article reports, once such technologies are getting into the hands of the Iranian regime and assisting in their suppression of dissenters.

  • 28 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Legislative Agenda, MEK, NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 11/28

Sanctions push in Europe, US
Financial Times writes that France is leading a push to implement a European Union oil embargo against Iran.  They report that while the UK is behind such a move, it is expected to meet resistance from Spain and Italy who are the two biggest importers of Iranian oil in Europe (Financial Times 11/24).   According to statements made by German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, Germany may be willing to support an oil embargo, but is not behind sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) (EA Worldview 11/28).  In the U.S., amendments to the annual defense authorization bill that would force CBI sanctions and limit any Presidential waiver could go to a vote this week.   Currently there are two competing amendments being proposed by Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk, and according to a report in CQ efforts talks are currently underway to find language regarding these sanctions that both sides and the White House “can live with” (CQ 11/26).

Effects of Sanctions here and Iran
Recently there are increasing signs that Iranian sanctions are having an effect both inside and outside Iran.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the price of oil is rising as a result of talk by the EU of an oil embargo on Iran (Wall Street Journal 11/28).  Some have argued recently that if an such an embargo was put in place that Saudi Arabia could prevent an increase in oil prices by increasing their oil production to make up for the loss of oil from Iran.  Despite such talk, an article in Foreign Affairs argued against this, pointing out that if an embargo occurred, Saudi Arabia’s spare production capacity would be insufficient to replace the lost supply of Iranian oil, nor is it clear they would be fully willing to do this ( Foreign Affairs July/August).   Sanctions targeted against Iranian officials prevented Irani’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi from a planned visit to Denmark after Hungary refused to allow him to fly over their country (AFP 11/28).

Notable Opinion
Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer writes in the New York Times about parallels between the 1981 Israeli strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor and the current talks of striking Iran’s nuclear program.  He warns that we must heed “The Real Lesson of Iraq“:

Israelis tend to credit this attack for denying Iraq a nuclear weapons capability. However, sources that have emerged since 2003 demonstrate that the attack created an unprecedented Iraqi consensus about the need for a nuclear deterrent and triggered a more intensive effort to acquire them. By the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq stood on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability.

What is known about Iran’s nuclear program suggests an attack could have similar consequences. Iran’s erratic nuclear advances over the past decade suggest that there is no consensus about whether and when to develop a nuclear weapons capability. While it is possible that Iran could develop fissile material for a nuclear weapon within weeks or months, such a high-risk move would require a consensus that does not currently exist in Tehran. Instead, Iran is edging closer toward a nuclear weapons option. An attack is one of the very few events that could create consensus in Tehran that it is necessary to develop nuclear weapons sooner rather than later.

Read the full piece at nytimes.com

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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