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  • 13 August 2012
  • Posted By Roshan Alemi
  • 1 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: August 13, 2012

Iran earthquakes: Tehran criticized for response to disaster
Iran Moves to Distribute Aid After Two Earthquakes Kill 307
Iran raises toll from Saturday’s earthquake to 306 dead, over 3,000 injured
Israeli Minister Asks Nations to Say Iran Talks Have Failed
Revised gov’t protocol gives PM unprecedented powers

Nuclear ruse: Posing as toymaker, Chinese merchant allegedly sought U.S. technology for Iran
Oil rises to near $94 on Israel-Iran concerns
Standard Chartered in talks to settle Iran laundering probe
 
Notable Opinion: Why Do Israeli Media Keep Predicting War With Iran?

  • 29 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 29, 2012

Shorter Range Missiles in the Persian Gulf

In an apparent escalation in Iran’s  standoff with the West, a Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted as saying Iran expects to equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz with shorter-range missiles (Reuters 6/29).

Dubai’s ENOC Affected by State Department Clarification

U.S. State Department officials have clarified that financial transactions that facilitate the import of Iranian “condensate”, a production material Dubai’s national oil company depends on, makes the UAE liable under the US sanctions that go into effect on June 28th. As a result, two sources close to the company said Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) had already applied for a waiver to avoid US sanctions (Reuters 6/29).

Iran Offers to Deliver South Korea Oil

Less than a day after Iran threatened “reconsideration of its ties” with South Korea in response to an announcement by the country that it would stop purchases of Iranian oil, Iran has come forward to offer to deliver its oil to South Korea on its own ships (Reuters 6/28; Reuters 6/29).

Continued Signs of Rivalry within OPEC

  • 22 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 22, 2012

Clinton: Iranian Hardliners Believe An Attack Would Boost Regime

In an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that although  hardliners in Iran are split between two schools of thought, there are those who think, “‘The best thing that could happen to us is be attacked by somebody. Just bring it on because that would unify us. It would legitimize the regime’” (ThinkProgress 6/21).

Chinese Imports of Iranian Oil Rebound

New data indicates Chinese imports of Iranian products increased by 39% in May, as compared to the previous month. Crude imports had been down 25% between the beginning of January and the end of May due to a pricing dispute, but have recovered sharply. However, import levels are still 2.3% lower than last year (WSJ 6/21).

Illegal Exportation to Iran Means 92 Months for NYC Resident

Richard Phillips, 54, of New York, was sentenced to 92 months in prison for agreeing to illegally ship a spool of aerospace-grade carbon fiber to Iran without obtaining an export license (Bloomberg 6/21).

Allegations of Planned Cyber Attack on Iranian Nuclear Facilities

Iranian news sources claimed on Thursday to have discovered a planned “massive cyber attack” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi blamed the US, Israel, and Britain for the planned attack (Reuters 6/21).

Notable Insight: “Iran talks – across the table, a wary stalemate”

Justyna Pawlak and William Maclean of Reuters reflect on first-hand impressions of the mood and culture during the P5+1 talks with Iran in Moscow:

At one time the Iran talks were friendlier, says Peter Jenkins, Britain’s representative to the IAEA from 2001-06, now a partner in a negotiation consultancy, ADRg Ambassadors.

“The E3 political directors got to know them as human beings…We ate together on some occasions and mingled during breaks he said, referring to an EU trio of Germany, France and Britain then leading the talks.

He told Reuters the atmosphere in the talks cooled when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. “The chemistry was awful, like dealing with a Soviet official in the worst days of the Cold War, with no give and take,” he said.

These days, the teams eat separately – a reality that produce the occasional attempt at humor.

In Bagdhad, the Iranian side ran out of main course plates during lunch. An Iranian delegate came over to the area where the teams from the six powers were eating to get some of their plates, and was greeted with a quip that ran along the lines of “you can have them, in return for some movement on 20 percent”.

Read the full article at Reuters

  • 20 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Update: June 20, 2012

Israeli Action Led to Virus’s Detection

A joint product of U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the Flame computer virus was discovered last month after Israel unilaterally launched a cyberattack on Iran’s oil industry that caught the U.S. “off guard,” according to several US and Western officials (Washington Post 6/19).

Reflecting on Moscow Talks

A senior U.S. official describes Iran’s willingness to engage in the details of a potential agreement as a major outcome of the talks. “We came to Moscow to see if we could get a detailed response to our proposal,” a senior American official told journalists in Moscow after the conclusion of talks Tuesday. “All of that occurred here… Iran for [the] first time responded quite directly to every element of the proposal we put down on the table — quite thoroughly (Al Monitor 6/19).”

  • 15 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 15, 2012

Tightening Oil Trade

OPEC Secretary General Abdullah Al-Badry has announced oil prices could elevate to $110 without putting the global economy in jeopardy (AP 6/15). He said, “$110 is not a threat to the world economic growth,” after OPEC leader agreed yesterday to keep OPEC’s total output ceiling at 30 million barrels a day (AP 6/15).

India has said that it will need extra oil from OPEC, after stopping imports from Iran, raising additional concerns that oil prices will rise as the effects of sanctions on Iran compound (International Business Times 6/15).

Five major Asian IPOs were cancelled or postponed in recent weeks ahead on increased sanctions on Iran (Reuters 6/15). Among them, Hyundai Oilbank has postponed its $2 billion initial offering due to the euro zone crisis and pending Western sanctions on Iranian crude exports, which account for approximately 20 percent of its total imports from Iran (Reuters 6/15).

Barring an unexpected last-minute deal to relax EU sanctions before they go into effect July 1, the Europe-based Protection and Indemnity clubs that cover 95 percent of the world’s oil tankers will be unable to insure vessels carrying Iranian crude (Reuters 6/14). Analysts say this could cut Iran oil shipments beyond the 25 percent fall they have already sustained due to sanctions (Reuters 6/14).

Japan’s lower legislative house has approved a bill to provide government guarantees on insurance for Iranian crude cargoes, making it the first country to take action to mitigate EU sanctions on Iranian oil shipments (Reuters 6/15). Together Japan, South Korea, China, and India buy two-thirds of Iran’s oil exports, relying under normal circumstances on European firms to insure them (Reuters 6/15).

Iranian Enrichment

William Broad writes that Iran may have cover to enrich uranium above current 20% levels: “Iran’s justification could be the same as that of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The countries, all signers of the nonproliferation treaty and subject to regular atomic inspections, use highly enriched uranium to make the radioactive isotope molybdenum-99, which is widely used in medicine for diagnostic scans and cancer treatments.” (NYT 6/14)

Notable Opinion – “Obama’s Drift Toward War With Iran”

Robin Wright writes at The Atlantic that Obama is overestimating his political exposure from Iran negotiations and underestimating his maneuverability to strike a deal to prevent war:

The most undercovered story in Washington is how President Obama, under the influence of election-year politics, is letting America drift toward war with Iran. This story is the unseen but ominous backdrop to next week’s Moscow round of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

The basic story line, pretty well known inside the beltway, is simple: There are things Obama could do to greatly increase the chances of a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, but he seems to have decided that doing them would bring political blowback that would reduce his chances of re-election.

The good news is that Obama’s calculation may be wrong. The blowback he fears–largely from Bibi Netanyahu, AIPAC, and other “pro-Israel” voices–is probably less forbidding than he assumes. And the political upside of successful statesmanship may be greater than he realizes.

Read more at The Atlantic.

  • 13 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 13, 2012

IEA: Iran’s Oil Exports Fall 40%

The International Energy Agency reported Iran’s oil exports have fallen approximately 40% since the start of the year, from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.5 million barrels per day, as a result of sanctions (Chicago Tribune 6/13). Reuters estimates Iran has lost $35 billion in oil revenue this year due to sanctions and falling oil prices (Reuters 6/13).

The International Energy Agency “expects Iran’s exports to fall by another third,” creating “major upside risk for oil prices” (Reuters 6/13).

Iran Stockpiling Excess Oil

The International Energy Agency reports about 17 supertankers and seven Suezmaxes are holding crude “while another estimated 25 million barrels are being kept in onshore tanks,” citing information from unnamed shipping analysts (Bloomberg (6/13). Iranian production has yet to slow to meet lower export levels, causing Iran to stockpile the surplus (Reuters UK 6/13/12). Persian news sources claim that new storage facilities will be constructed to handle the surplus (Bernama 6/13).

Preparations for Moscow Talks

Former IAEA deputy director general Pierre Goldschmidt has proposed offering Iran a “grace period” to disclose details of any past nuclear weaponization activities to the IAEA to lay the groundwork for enhanced cooperation with the IAEA (Al-Monitor 6/13). “Without such a grace period, it is unlikely that Iran would fully cooperate with the IAEA or voluntarily declare any past violations,” Goldschmidt wrote.

  • 11 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Round Up: June 11, 2012

Recap from Last Week:

After IAEA inspectors and Iranian negotiators failed to reach an agreement in Vienna last week, doubts have surfaced that suggest that talks between the P5+1 and Iran scheduled for next week might fall through. (ABC News 6/10/12) An Iranian negotiator stated Sunday that the talks could stall as a result of “faulty preparation”. This comment comes only days after representative from the P5+1 insisted that further preparatory talks weren’t necessary in response to an Iranian complaint that an agenda had not been finalized for the upcoming talks. (The Guardian 6/7/12) The P5+1 is apparently united in its goal of halting Iran’s enrichment at 20%.  Ahmadinejad said the parties must explain what concessions they will provide in exchange for such an Iranian concession. (ABC News 6/10/12)

IAEA Inspections:

US-Iranian relations were over the weekend further agitated when reports by the UN nuclear watchdog surfaced claiming that Iran had demolished buildings at the Parchin military base in an alleged attempt to cover up nuclear testing. (Boston Globe 6/11/12) Iranian officials have denied the reports, calling the allegations “irrelevant and unwise”. The IAEA claims that satellite images reveal “a cleanup of the site, saying the photos depicted water streaming out of one building, the razing of several other buildings and removal of earth at the facility.” (The Times of Israel, 6/11/12; Boston Globe 6/11/12) Iran maintains that Parchin is a “conventional military base”. Additionally, despite failed talks last week, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran would “not block assess of the IAEA inspectors to Parchin, ‘if both Iran and the agency reach an agreement on the modality of a visit”. (Boston Globe 6/11/12)

IPS published an article suggesting that the “sanitized” site is merely part of a ploy by Iran to gain more bargaining power in Moscow. The article claims, “the activities shown in those satellite images show activities appear to be aimed at prompting the IAEA, the United States and Israel to give greater urgency and importance to a request for an IAEA inspection visit to Parchin in the context of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA”. (IPS 6/8/12)

  • 8 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran New Round-Up: June 8, 2012

IAEA and Iran fail to reach a deal ahead of political talks in Moscow, Where U.S. May “Go Big”

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has been working to broker an action plan to provide access to restricted sites, namely the Parchin facility, where there are suspicions Iran conducted conventional high-explosive tests ten years ago that may have had nuclear applications.  After an inconclusive eight hour meeting today, no agreement was set and there is no date set for future talks.  These results have cast a shadow on prospects for the P5+1 talks in Moscow later this month. (CNBC, 6/8/12)  There was skepticism an agreement could be struck at the technical level with the IAEA before political talks in Moscow scheduled for June 18 between the P5+1 and Iran. (NYT, 6/8/12)

A recent leak of letters between the P5+1 AND Iran ahead of talks in Moscow suggests continued differences and a common reluctance to compromise. One letter shows an Iranian interest in assembling a meeting of experts ahead of the talks to solidify an agenda, to which EU leaders responded no further preliminary talks were necessary, because their goals for the talks hadn’t changed. (Washington Post, 6/8/12)

Meanwhile, is a growing number of experts  suggest an incremental deal with Iran would not be successful, instead suggesting a “Go big” strategy is the only real option. Israeli fears and lack of confidence are contributing to the potential instability that an temporary solution would not encourage a reconvening nations anytime soon. (Al-Monitor, 6/7/12)

Notable Opinions

– Consequences of an Israeli strike: Colin Kahl, the former top Middle East policymaker at the Pentagon, and his colleagues summarize their recent CNAS report in Foreign Policy, Red Red Lines“:

Given the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the option of using force should remain on the table. But the high risks and uncertain rewards mean it should be employed only if: (1) all nonmilitary options have been exhausted; (2) Iran has made a clear move toward weaponization; (3) there is a reasonable expectation that a strike would significantly set back Iran’s program; and (4) a sufficiently large international coalition is available first to help manage the destabilizing consequences of the strike and then to contain Iran and hinder it from rebuilding its nuclear program.

Today, a unilateral Israeli strike would not satisfy any of these criteria.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.

  • 10 February 2012
  • Posted By Richard Abott
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 2/10

Amidst increased sanctions, Asian powers push negotiation

The Foreign Ministry of China has said it would send an Assistant Foreign Minister to Iran to “have a further exchange of views with Iran over its nuclear program,” amidst sanctions that are affecting trade. China has already sought discounts on Iranian oil and cut purchases this year by over half, pushing up India to be the largest buyer of Iranian oil, although India is still working out the details of a barter system (Reuters 02/10). Moreover, Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has said it would consider proposals from Iran in barter trade. According to Reuters, Tehran is offering gold bullion in overseas vaults and tankerloads of oil in return for food and basic staples (Reuters 02/10). Meanwhile, as a delegation of Indian businessmen head to Tehran for new trade opportunities, Prime Minister Singh said “There are problems with Iran nuclear programme. We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy” (Reuters 02/10).

Japan is trying to gain a waiver from U.S. penalties on companies doing business with Iran while it seeks suppliers to offset a reduction in Iranian oil imports. Japan currently gets about 9% of its oil from Iran and it has already reduced Iranian oil imports by 40% in five years (AP 02/10).

Iranian oil trade flows drop and steel imports collapse

The International Energy Agency has said up to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iran’s 2.6 million bpd of oil exports could be replaced once sanctions go into effect, significantly greater than the 600,000 bpd of Iranian oil the EU bought last year (Reuters 02/10).

Steel exports to Iran, one of the world’s largest importers of steel billet, are collapsing because sanctions are preventing local buyers from using major currencies. Major steel traders are unwilling to accept payment in alternative currencies such as Indian rupees and Russian roubles. Steel billets are semi-finished long steel products used primarily in construction. The reduction in Iranian imports is depressing the prices of international steel billets, which fell by about $50 a tonne in one month (Reuters 02/09).

  • 22 October 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

Can Emirati oil crowd Iran out of China?

The United Arab Emirates, “in a step coordinated with Washington,” recently agreed to increase oil exports to China from the current 50,000 barrels per day to 150,000-200,000, the Wall Street Journal  reported Tuesday. The move is viewed as an Obama administration strategy to reduce Beijing’s reliance on Iran to meet its growing energy needs. It appears to be a move designed to contain Iran’s sphere of influence in the long run by offering China an alternative source of energy, therby reducing Iran’s leverage and influence.

(WSJ): “A senior Emirati official said Abu Dhabi plans to make a significant additional increase “within the next three years.”

Saudi Arabia, long at odds with Tehran, also appears prepared to offer China more oil to make up for any losses it incurs as part of an international effort to punish Iran, according to people familiar with Saudi thinking.

The kingdom buys considerable weapons, natural resources and consumer products from China, and is weighing how to leverage those purchases to persuade Beijing to distance itself from Tehran.

The U.S. strategy is as much about realigning diplomatic alliances as shifting the oil supply, U.S. officials said.

Flynt Leverett, director of the New America Foundation’s Iran Project, expressed his view that China would be unlikely to substitute Saudi Arabia for Iran to meet its oil needs in a recent discussion on China-Iran relations at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School.

The U.S. is seeking China’s support for possible new sanctions on Iran should negotiations fail. Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates could be instrumental to influencing China’s policy. China has given little indication that it is likely to go along with more sanctions, though. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently hailed cooperation with Iran.

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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