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  • 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.

  • 24 January 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/24

Australia imposes sanctions on Iranian oil

Following yesterday’s announcement of EU imposed sanctions, Australian Foreign Secretary Kevin Rudd stated that Australia would also stop importing Iranian oil.  Rudd acknowledged Australia’s imports of Iranian oil are already “negligible.”   (CNN 01/24)

Fitch: EU oil sanctions likely to increase prices

Fitch ratings evaluates that it is very likely that the EU oil embargo on Iran will increase oil prices, though it states markets may have already priced in much of the increase. Fitch notes that it is “difficult to predict at this stage” what effect U.S. extraterritorial sanctions will have, adding “the global oil market would have less flexibility in the event of large unexpected supply interruptions elsewhere, potentially sending oil prices much higher than current levels” if the sanctions are aggressively enforced. (Fitch Ratings 01/24)

  • 13 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/13

CIA memos uncover Mossad “false flag” operations

A series of CIA memos, written during the George W. Bush’s administration, describes how Mossad agents, pretending to be American agents and carrying US passports, reportedly recruited the terrorist group Jundallah to carry out a covert war against Iran (Foreign Policy  01/13).

U.S. sends warning to Iran’s Supreme Leader 

According to government officials, the U.S. has warned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, via a secret channel of communication, that closing the Strait of Hormuz would constitute a “red-line” which would provoke a U.S. response. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also stated on Thursday that the closure of the Strait would not be tolerated (NY Times 01/12).

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei responded to Wednesday’s assassination of an Iranian scientist by saying that those behind the killing would be punished. “We will continue our path with strong will … and certainly we will not neglect punishing those responsible for this act and those behind it,” said Khamenei (Reuters 01/12). The Iranian scientist, Mostafa Roshan, was buried yesterday in Tehran (BBC 01/13).

U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta echoed strong denials by other top U.S. officials of American involvement in the assassination (The Guardian 01/13).

Russia considers Iran war a threat to security

Russia’s departing ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told reporters that Russia considers Iranian involvement in any military action as a direct threat to Russia’s security. He also said that Israel is pushing the U.S. towards a war with Iran (Reuters 01/13).

U.N. to discuss nuclear program in Tehran

A senior U.N. nuclear agency team will be visiting Tehran on Jan. 28 to discuss allegations over Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian officials have suggested that they are ready to talk about the issue, according to two diplomats (Reuters 01/12). Some in the West have expressed skepticism over Iran’s readiness to discuss its nuclear program (Reuters 01/13).

  • 12 October 2011
  • Posted By Sina Kashefipour
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Sanctions

Reactions to the Alleged Iranian Assassination Plot

Over the last 24 hours since the Department of Justice announced that they had foiled an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States linked to members of Iran’s Quds Force, there has been a range of reactions from across the spectrum.

Some analysts and commentators said that the highest echelons of the government of Iran were responsible and called for immediate U.S. retaliation.

Mark Dubowitz of Foundation for Defense of Democracies asserted that the alleged plot “was likely authorized at the highest levels of the Iranian government,” and “was not a ‘rogue’ operation.”

The Wall Street Journal called in ambiguous terms for a new U.S policy on Iran:

“Iran is about much more than these antic rants, and its resources are vastly greater than al Qaeda’s. It sees itself as at war with the U.S., Europe, Israel and now obviously Saudi Arabia. As obvious, it sees itself as immune to effective retaliation against its repeated, or planned, offensives. It’s past time for U.S. policy toward Iran to reflect the reality of what it is dealing with.”

And the Heritage Foundation who unequivocally endorsed military retaliation against Iran, calling for the U.S. to “take strong measures to respond to Iran’s actions, including conducting a proportional military response against suitable, feasible, and acceptable targets (in many ways the situation is similar to military operations conducted against al Qaeda in Pakistan).”

United Against Nuclear Iran repeated its call for the U.S. to consider itself at war with Iran:

“Iran is by any definition a wartime enemy of the United States, as evidenced by their just-revealed plans to commit terrorist acts on our soil, their killing of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their alliance with al-Qaeda. As such, President Obama and U.S. policymakers should treat Iran as it would any other nation at war with the country, including sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran…”

In Congress, Representative Peter King (R-NY) hinted at military action:

[W]e should not be, I don’t think, automatically saying we’re not going to have a military action. I think everything should be kept on the table when you’re talking about a potential attack against the United States, an act of war.

And Senator Mark Kirk reiterated the demand that the U.S. impose sanctions on Iran’s central bank to collapse Iran’s economy:

“What the administration should do is prepare to move against Bank Markazi [Iran’s Central Bank] in response to the bomb plot…Their currency would become like North Korea’s currency.”

But there has also been a healthy dose of skepticism about the allegations.

Christian Science Monitor ran a piece entitled, “Why Iran Assassination Plot Doesn’t Add Up to Iran Experts,” noting questions raised about the allegations from U.S.-based Iran analysts.

Reuters ran a similar piece highlighting skepticism among Middle East analysts, “U.S. Plot Charges Face Skepticism in Middle East.”

Gary Sick took to his personal website to question the allegations:

“Iran has never conducted — or apparently even attempted — an assassination or a bombing inside the US. And it is difficult to believe that they would rely on a non-Islamic criminal gang to carry out this most sensitive of all possible missions. In this instance, they allegedly relied on at least one amateur and a Mexican criminal drug gang that is known to be riddled with both Mexican and US intelligence agents.  Whatever else may be Iran’s failings, they are not noted for utter disregard of the most basic intelligence tradecraft, e.g. discussing an ultra-covert operation on an open international line between Iran and the US. Yet that is what happened here.”

Salon’s Glen Greenwald writes:

“What’s most significant is that not even 24 hours have elapsed since these allegations were unveiled. No evidence has been presented of Iran’s involvement. And yet there is no shortage of people — especially in the media — breathlessly talking about all of this as though it’s all clearly true.”

And Bob Baer, a former CIA case officer, spoke with several outlets about his own questions:

“Sloppiness about the case that defies belief…Maybe things have really fallen apart in Tehran, or maybe there’s a radical group that wants to stir up the pot…But the Quds are better than this. If they wanted to come after you, you’d be dead already.”

For its part, the Obama Administration has asserted that the U.S. would “hold Iran accountable” but has been careful not to implicate the entire Iranian government, stating instead that the alleged plot was “sponsored by elements within the Iranian government.”  Still, Secretary Clinton and other Obama Administration have made clear that the U.S. will leverage the allegations to convince the international community to impose further sanctions to pressure and isolate Iran.

  • 26 October 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 2 Comments
  • Persian Gulf

Fueling Ethnic Tensions in the Persian Gulf is Not a Strategy for Middle East Stability

Washington risks entering into a game of escalating provocations with Tehran even as continuing efforts to restart talks in November are underway. Iran’s announcement that the two US hikers being held Evin prison will now face trial just ahead of the talks is no coincidence. The move is particularly shameful considering that these US citizens have been held for over a year without formal charges and recently leaked military reports support the hiker’s assertion that they were captured in Iraq – not in Iran. Meanwhile, last week’s announcement of the largest US arms deal in history, a $60 billion deal with Saudi Arabia that includes advanced aircraft and bunker busting bombs, was clearly aimed at Tehran.

But while the package was branded as an effort to “enhance regional stability” by reassuring Persian Gulf states of the United States’ commitment to their security, the State Department broke its own longstanding protocol and used provocative, ethnically divisive language when announcing the deal.

Instead of using the historically accepted term – and observing State Department protocol – “Persian Gulf”, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro referred to the “Arabian Gulf”, a politically charged phrase with a relatively recent but insidious history.

Tell Secretary Clinton: Referring to Persian Gulf as “Arabian Gulf” Only Fuels Ethnic Tensions ->

Read More on the Huffington Post ->

  • 12 November 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • 3 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran

A Proxy War in Yemen?

The protracted conflict in Northern Yemen has become “a bit” more complicated – sarcasm intended – with Saudi Arabia joining the fray in attempting to destroy the Houthi rebels. However, what has become the source of serious debate is not so much the heavy fighting that is most likely taking and displacing so many lives, but whether Iran – according to both the Saudi and Yemeni government – is actually supporting the Houthi rebellion.

A recent article by Scott Peterson suggests that an Iranian-Houthi connection is more fiction than fact, and posits that such hyperbole distracts from the Houthis’ actual claims of mistreatment by the Yemeni government. As the article points out:

“Iran’s influence may be marginal. ‘There is probably next to no Iranian involvement. I have seen no evidence for it [and] it’s really a bit too far afield,’ says Joost Hiltermann, the deputy Middle East program director for the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Washington.

A Saudi source…told Agence France-Presse that there was no evidence of active Iranian involvement in the Yemen conflict.

This gets played off as Sunni-Shia, and it’s wrong,” says Hiltermann of ICG. ‘The Shia of Yemen are more Sunni than any other Shia in the world. And the Sunni of Yemen are more Shia than any Sunni in the world.’”

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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