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  • 30 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

News Roundup 01/30

Iran invites IAEA inspectors to extend visit

Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi told journalists that the three day inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency can be extended “if they desire”. Iranian officials have insisted that Iran’s quest for nuclear energy is for peaceful purposes and “the remarks appear to be part of a show of flexibility and transparency by Tehran”. (Time 01/30)

Panetta: It would take Iran 2-3 years to have deliverable nuke

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on 60 minutes this past weekend and said, “the consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”  Panetta has previously made it clear that Iran has not decided to go forward with building a nuclear weapon and that this is the U.S. redline. (The Hill 01/30)

  • 23 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/23

European Union agrees to Iran oil embargo

All 27-member states have agreed to impose a ban on Iranian oil. Full implementation begins on July 1.  In response, an Iranian member of Parliament urged Iran to immediately cut off sales to the EU, in order to disrupt EU oil supply before the planned July date. (Reuters 01/23)

In addition, two other Parliamentarians again warned that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for oil sanctions. (AP 01/23)

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 1.2% to $111.14 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US reference, rose 1.3 per cent to $99.59 a barrel. (Financial Times 01/23)

Iranian bank Tejarat sanctioned 

The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Iran’s third largest bank, Bank Tejarat.  All of Iran’s largest state-owned banks have now been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.  In addition, an affiliate, Belarus-based Trade Capital Bank, was also sanctioned. (Reuters 01/23) 

IAEA confirms visit to Iran, aims to “resolve all outstanding substantive issue” 

“The Agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA told Reuters last week the visit would take place from January 29-31 and that his country was open to discuss “any issues” of interest for the U.N. agency. “The overall objective of the IAEA is to resolve all outstanding substantive issues,” the IAEA statement added. (Reuters 01/23)

Russia hopeful for renewed Iran talks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that he believes there is a good chance that talks between global powers and Iran could resume, despite a planned EU oil embargo and other sources of tension.  (Reuters 01/23)

Rial Declines Sharply

Iran’s currency, the Rial, has fallen sharply to 23,000 per $1 US dollar — a 15% decline.  Gold prices have also increased significantly. (Enduring America 01/23)

Notable Opinion:

Time magazine’s Tony Karon examines the package that the U.S. is expected to offer Iran should diplomatic talks commence, and finds it unlikely to succeed:

Yahoo diplomatic correspondent Laura Rozen reported last week that insiders were suggesting  that Western powers will measure Iran’s “seriousness” in the coming talks by its willingness to halt enrichment of uranium to 20%, and turn over its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to that level.

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see that Iran is highly unlikely to accept a deal under which it gives Western powers something they want but leaves the latest, most damaging sanctions on Iran’s oil exports still in place, instead simply holding off on another round of UN sanctions — which are far less painful, and which the Western powers are unable to persuade Russia and China to substantially tighten.

Click here to read in full.

Other Notable News:

Muhammid Sahimi suggests that a growing rift can be seen developing in the Revolutionary Guard.

  • 15 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Israel, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 11/15

Details and questions about explosion near Tehran that killed IRGC general

Skepticism is emerging about Tehran’s claims that the recent explosion in Iran was an accident and not an Israeli attack.  The NY times reported one of the casualties in the explosion was a Revolutionary Guard general who was a key figure in developing Iran’s shahab missile program (NY Times 11/14).  Time’s Tony Karon writes that, if Israel was behind the explosion, it could create an escalatory cycle of military retaliations that could lead to war.  However, Tehran may view this as a trap to provide casus belli for war against it and hence is denying Israeli involvement. (Time 11/14)

Current Iran legislation is “dangerous”

The ‘Iran Threat Reduction Act’, which recently passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is expected to come up for a vote in the House before the end of the year, could actually increase the threat of war with Iran says Steven Zunes. The act “appears designed to pave way for war” by setting “a dangerous precedent” of setting legal constraints against diplomatic contact between American and Iranian officials. (Zunes Huffington Post 11/14)

Additional Notable News:

Reuters reports that EU foreign ministers voiced support for additional sanctions but will wait until their next Dec. 1 meeting before deciding on whether to take further action.

Brigadier General John H. Johns (ret.) writes in the New York Times: Calls for military strikes on Iran may provide “applause lines” in GOP debates, but they “flatly ignore or reject outright best advice of America’s national security leadership.”

CBS poll found that 55% of Americans think Iran can be effectively dealt with through diplomacy instead of military action, while 15% said they see Iran as a threat that requires military action now.

Video: Former inspector Robert Kelly calls recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program “misleading” and says it “recycles old information and is meant to bolster hardliners.”

The Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization issued a letter, signed by 175 people, rejecting the regimes “stubborn” stance on their nuclear program.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Iran is holding meetings with Syrian opposition groups as it continues to hedge its bets regarding Assad’s future.

  • 14 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran

IRI’s Helping Hand

Hardline backers attacked and vandalized Grand Ayatollah Saanei's office on Sunday.

While some Iranians came out to protest on the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections this weekend, others came out to attack Mehdi Karroubi and the offices of Grand Ayatollah Saanei and late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

Karroubi, who traveled to Qom on Sunday for a mourning ceremony, planned on visiting Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, and the family of late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Shortly after arriving at the house of Saanei, a group of pro-regime backers encircled Saanei’s house, chanting slogans against Karroubi and Saanei. They also attacked Karroubi’s car, which despite being bulletproof, was still heavily damaged due to the severity of the attacks.

While these attacks were not particularly surprising — just another statistic added to the many other attacks this past year — what was surprising was the IRGC’s aid to Karroubi. The IRGC not only urged the violent crowds to disperse, but Karroubi also took refuge in a building owned by the Revolutionary Guards per their request until 4 in the morning on Monday when he finally left for Tehran. He escaped through a corridor made by the anti-riot police to ensure safe passing of Karroubi’s car.

As any Iranian who first points to an underlying conspiracy as the reason for an unnatural event taking place, I assumed it was the regime that set up the entire thing. Photos of Saanei’s office greatly resembled photos of university dormitories attacked by the Basij following the elections last year. Plain clothed thugs were hired by the regime, I thought, and then the IRGC came to the ‘rescue,’ showing the regime’s kindhearted nature, even to the opposition. It would serve for a brilliant propaganda campaign. But after fruitlessly searching on Press TV for any news of this event, I realized I was slightly off.

But only slightly. The place to look was Raja News, not Press TV. The state media was broadcasting the event, and of Karroubi’s flee from the people on domestic news sites, not international ones. The state-run media seemed to mock Karroubi for escaping a violent crowd — though I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind doing differently.

And all the while, the police did nothing. Shortly after Karroubi escaped, police and security forces stood by, watching while the mob attacked Saanei’s house and office and vandalized the late Montazeri’s office.  Said opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son Hossein:

From the sudden gathering and the behavior of this group, it is obvious that they did not act by themselves and have orders.

This elaborate, and very organized plan, served the regime quite well. First of all, it allowed them to score some cheap points through the fear of violence.  Also, the IRGC very deliberately prevented the mob from going too far — because the last thing they want to do is create another martyr for the opposition movement.

Iran was shaken up after the death of Neda, and again, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri last year.  Another martyr would serve as the very flame needed to ignite the relatively smaller protests on the anniversary this year and turn them into something bigger, resembling the protests that followed the previous deaths. And so the IRGC prevented that from happening.

To be clear, this could have been a very major event — and it appears the senior leadership in the IRGC knew it.

For me, it wasn’t the violence that was surprising — thankfully, no one was hurt — it was its target: two grand ayatollahs, Montazeri and Saanei.  I was looking through the pictures of Saanei’s attacked office and saw a broken mohr.  A Mohr is a small clay tablet that Shi’a Muslims use to pray.

There’s no better illustration than this of what Montazeri meant when he said Iran is no longer Islamic nor a republic.

  • 16 February 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 16 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, Uncategorized

Clinton: Iran’s shift towards Military dictatorship

The NY  times reports that Secretary of State Clinton  sparked more tension with Iran on Monday by suggesting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards is shifting the nation towards a military dictatorship, as the IRGC is gaining more political, economic, and military power.

“We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the Parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Notably, Secretary Clinton impelled Iran’s political and religious leaders to stand-up against the IRGC, and “take back the authority which they should be exercising on behalf of the people”. This would be the closest any senior US administration official has come to encouraging political disturbance in the nation.

Iranian officials did not take the news lightly, and Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki promptly responded that the description of a military dictatorship could also be applied to America. Mottaki further accused the US of using “fake words” and “modern deceit” to mask Washington’s true intentions for the Gulf region.

“We are regretful that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to conceal facts about the stance of the U.S. administration through fake words,” Press TV quoted [Mottaki] as saying.

Clinton’s comments possibly stem from Washington’s new strategy of characterizing the IRGC as responsible for the domestic unrest in Iran, eager to lodge animosity between ordinary Iranian citizens and the more entitled IRGC.  Sec. Clinton’s frank approach could also be an attempt to rally more Iran-ambivalent regional allies and to gain support for a new round of more targeted sanctions directed at the IRGC, as these carefully calculated statements came just across the Persian Gulf. Regardless of the motivation, Clinton’s sharp words definitely inflamed the Iranian government.

  • 12 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 9 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Israel, Nuclear file

Bomb Kills Nuclear Scientist in Iran

The LA Times reports that Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists was killed on his way to work this week. Adding ambiguity to the death, officials offer various explanations for the explosion. Some state that a bomb was fixed onto a motorcycle near his car while others report that the explosives were in a nearby trash bin, detonated by remote control.

Various sources report that Ali-Mohammadi was an outspoken supporter for Mir-Hossein Mousavi. However, Iranian officials are quick to blame the West and Israel for the assassination, as a reactionary measure to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability.

State television described Ali-Mohammadi as a “revolutionary university professor martyred in a terrorist operation by counterrevolutionary agents affiliated” with the West.

According to one nuclear physics student who studied under Ali-Mohammadi, he was killed for his support for the student movement.  Another student believes that Ali-Mohammadi had cut ties with the Revolutionary Guard years ago.  No suspects have yet to be arrested.

UPDATE

Dr. Ali-Mohammadi’s field of specialization is now being disputed; Tehran University’s website lists Ali-Mohammadi as being a professor of Elementary Particle Physics. The New York Times also reports that two Iranian academics spoke out against claims that Dr. Ali-Mohammadi was a nuclear physicist. In fact, Ali Shirzadian, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Agency affirmed that Ali-Mohammadi has no association with the agency in charge of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian Government Targets Opposition Worldwide

The Wall Street Journal reported today on an extremely troubling development in the Iranian government’s efforts to silence its critics in the continued aftermath of the disputed June elections–the regime is reportedly attempting to extend its crackdown beyond Iran’s borders to the Iranian diaspora abroad.

“Interviews with roughly 90 ordinary Iranians abroad — college students, housewives, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople — in New York, London, Dubai, Sweden, Los Angeles and other places indicate that people who criticize Iran’s regime online or in public demonstrations are facing threats intended to silence them.”

“Although it wasn’t possible to independently verify their claims, interviewees provided consistently similar descriptions of harassment techniques world-wide.”

In one case, a young Iranian-American engineering student received an email threatening his family should he continue to criticize the Iranian government. He dismissed the threat as a joke until his father was arrested at his home in Tehran and told his son could “no longer safely return to Iran.

Other interviewees said they were questioned at airports, scrutinized at passport control in Iran about their foreign ties, forced to log in to their Facebook accounts, and some had their passports confiscated for their criticisms of the Iranian government’s handling of this summer’s elections.

This shameful campaign is further evidence that the Iranian government is mindful of lessons learned from the Shah’s upheaval:

“During Iran’s historic 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranians abroad played an instrumental role in transforming the movement from a fringe idea led by a frail cleric, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, into a global force that eventually toppled the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iranians abroad flocked to Mr. Khomeini’s side, lending his movement language skills, money and, ultimately, global legitimacy.”

“In the current crisis, Iran is eager to prevent a similar scenario.”

  • 2 December 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran

Iran Frees Five British Sailors

British authorities reported today that Iran has freed the five sailors, Oliver Smith, Sam Usher, Luke Porter, Oliver Young, and David Bloomer, who were detained last week when their racing yacht allegedly strayed into Iranian waters. The sailors were en route to Dubai from Bahrain on their 60-foot yacht, Kingdom of Bahrain, when it was taken in by the Iranian navy.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that this was “a purely consular case” and added:

“I think that this is just a straightforward matter. It is not a political matter. I do not believe there is any wider significance… it shows that diplomacy can work.”

The Revolutionary Guard said in its statement:

“After carrying out an investigation and interrogation of the five British sailors, it became clear that their illegal entry was a mistake.”

While Iranian authorities had warned earlier that the sailors would face “serious action” if they were found to have “evil intent,” Miliband said that the authorities dealt with the incident in a “professional way” and that, to his knowledge, the sailors were treated well.

  • 29 September 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Uncategorized

IRGC Buys Majority Share of Iran Telecom

The Etemad-e-Mobin consortium, which is reportedly connected to the Revolutionary Guard (though details are scarce about the exact nature of the relationship), bought a 50% plus one share of the Telecommunications Company of Iran on Sunday, worth $7.8 billion. Two of the three companies that comprise Etemad-e-Mobin are reportedly controlled by the IRGC.

The New York Times reports:

The telecom share sold Sunday is part of the government’s project to privatize sectors still in state hands. But reform-minded politicians, and even some conservatives, have complained that institutions affiliated with the ruling system are being awarded stakes in the privatized firms, while the private sector is left out.

…[IRGC] finances are not on the government budget, and are free from any state oversight. The guard is accountable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran.

The move extends the IRGC’s already tremendous influence across political, economic, and social spheres in Iranian society. It is said to control a large portion of the 70% or so of the Iranian economy that is state-run, which has enormous implications for US sanctions measures, given the IRGC’s skill at operating on the black market.

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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