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  • 1 August 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: August 1, 2012

Netanyahu Challenges Credibility of US Threat Against Iran

Speaking next to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.”  Panetta responded by reiterating that “If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon…we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen,” (Reuters 8/1).

Beijing “Furious” Over Sanctions on Chinese Bank

Beijing has reacted furiously to new US sanctions imposed on a Chinese bank, Bank of Kunlun, over transactions with Iran, and urged the US to revoke the “groundless” sanctions, saying the sanctions violated “norms of international relations” (AP 8/1).

Iran, OPEC Oil Production Falls

  • 30 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 30, 2012

Aide Says Romney Would Endorse Israeli Strike

Speaking in Jerusalem, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability is America’s “solemn duty and a moral imperative”. Romney’s aide, Dan Senor, previewed the speech for reporters, saying that “if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision.” However, Romney apparently stepping back from his aide’s comment, saying only “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself,” (Huffington Post 7/29).

Senor, the aide, also endorsed a lower threshold for attacking Iran, saying:

It is not enough just to stop Iran from developing a nuclear program. The capability, even if that capability is short of weaponization, is a pathway to weaponization, and the capability gives Iran the power it needs to wreak havoc in the region and around the world.

(Think Progress 7/29)

Israeli Official Denies Obama Advisor Briefed Netanyahu on Iran Contingency Plans

On Sunday, Haaretz reported National Security Advisor Tom Donilon briefed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on US contingency plans for an attack on Iran during a three-hour dinner, sharing information on US weaponry and military capabilities. A senior Israeli official denied the report saying, “Nothing in the article is correct,” (Reuters 7/30; Haaretz 7/29).

  • 29 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • 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

  • 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.

  • 12 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • 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)

  • 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)

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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