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  • 2 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 2, 2012

Iran Reacts to EU Embargo Implementation

Iran’s governor to OPEC, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, speaking of sanctions implemented on Sunday, warned “the EU would bear ‘the consequences of politicizing the market,’” (Bloomberg 7/1).  Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, suggested the current sanctions regime “by itself indicates that they are not willing to engage with us in a meaningful dialogue,” (NYT 6/29).

Three Days of Iranian Missile Tests Begin

Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has announced three days of missile tests starting on Monday, saying the exercises are “a message ‘that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to … bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly’” (Reuters 7/1CNN 7/2). The war games will include target bases “made to look like airbases of ‘extra-regional powers’” and “long-range, medium-range, and short-range missiles”, (CNN 7/2).  Hajizadeh, who is head of the Revolutionary Guards airborne division added that “If [Israelis] take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth” (Reuters 7/1).

Bill Would Stop Oil Trade through Hormuz

Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee has drafted a bill that would attempt to stop oil tankers from shipping crude through the Strait of Hormuz to countries that support sanctions against Iran. Iranian MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi stated that as of Sunday, 100 of 290 members of the Iranian parliament had signed the measure (Reuters 7/2).

Iranian Domestic Markets Weaken

The imposition of the new measures threaten to “make the distortion in the economy even worse”, according to the New York Times, in a country where the national currency has lost 50 percent of its value in the last year and currency speculation has become a significant factor in the market(NYT 7/1). The dollar was trading at just over 18,500 Rials last Saturday, by Thursday it was above 20,000 for the first time since late January (Washington Post  6/29).

  • 20 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 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).”

  • 9 March 2012
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

Jon Stewart Interviews NIAC’s Trita Parsi on The Daily Show

  • 4 November 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Israel, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Green lighting war is a great way to convince Iran to get the bomb

This morning, amidst the buzz of threats of war with Iran coming out of Israel and the UK, a resolution green-lighting an Israeli military strike on Iran picked up 15 new supporters in the House of Representatives.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), sends a dangerous signal to Israel and Iran and undermines the U.S. President’s ability to try to prevent a potential strike that would drag the U.S. into a catastrophic war.

In the same vain, Gohmert’s fellow Texan, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry, told CNN last night that he would back a preemptive strike by Israel against Iran even if it sparked a war in the region.  Such inflammatory rhetoric a convenient way to put the sitting President in a box when Perry doesn’t have the burden of actually putting his money where his mouth is.

Regardless of the hype–particularly the spin we will hear next week when a new IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program is released–the fact remains that the U.S. intelligence community continues to assess that Iran has NOT made the decision to pursue a nuclear weapon.

In a public Senate hearing earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence affirmed this yet again:

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI):  ..I read into that that Iran had not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program.  Is that correct?

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:  Yes Sir…

Levin:  Okay, but what is the level of confidence that you have that as of this time they have not decided to restart that program? Is that I high level of confidence?

Mr. Clapper:  Yes, it is.

So perhaps we should be working to convince Iran not to make a decision, right?  Threats of war, or an actual attack on Iran, do the precisely the opposite.

Yet for some, like Gohmert and Perry, the threats are good politics.  For others the war threats build pressure for more sanctions.  And in Iran, the threats of war play well for hardliners seeking to rally a divided population by pointing to external threats.

So it seems like everyone has an ulterior motive for ratcheting up dangerous tensions with Iran.  But in the end, the vicious cycle of dangerous flirtations with war do nothing to actually prevent a nuclear weapons capable Iran–they only make it more likely.

  • 28 April 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Human Rights in Iran

NIAC Interview with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi

At an event hosted by NIAC on Saturday, Nobel Laureate and human rights lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi called for international attention on the human rights situation in Iran and warned that war, or threats of an attack on Iran, would be devastating for the country’s indigenous human rights and democracy movement.  But before speaking at the NIAC event in Virginia, Dr. Ebadi gave an exclusive interview with NIAC President Dr. Trita Parsi and Dr. Hazhir Rahmandad, a NIAC member and assistant professor at Virginia Tech.

The interview (in Persian) is below, while our English-only audience can read highlights on NIAC’s website, here.


  • 18 May 2010
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

Iran’s Nuke Deal Irritates Washington

Washington Push for Iran Sanctions Complicated By Nuclear Fuel Deal

A noticeable irritation can be sensed in Washington. After months of investing in a new UN Security Council resolution and an escalation of the conflict and apparently winning agreement among the permanent members of the council for such a measure two emerging powers had the audacity to intervene and find a solution. Brazil and Turkey should keep their expectations low, however, because there will not be any thank you party for them in Washington anytime soon.

Only two days after the announcement of the Brazilian-Turkish brokered deal with Iran that would see 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium shipped out of the country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel that the United States and its partners seeking new sanctions against Iran have come up with a draft proposal for a new round of penalties. UN Ambassador Susan Rice held a press conference at the UN today unveiling the new resolution.

  • 10 February 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Bearing Witness

By all accounts, tomorrow should be another crucial day for Iran’s Green movement. 22 Bahman marks the anniversary of the fall of the Shah in 1979, and the three main opposition leaders – Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami – are all calling on their supporters to come out en mass.

The Iranian government has been stepping up its crackdown against dissidents in an effort to deter anti-government demonstrations, and the Guardian is reporting that Iranian security forces are “deploying in strength in Tehran.”

NIAC will be live-blogging tomorrow’s events. The world must continue bearing witness to what’s happening in Iran. As NIAC’s Trita Parsi wrote for tomorrow’s Financial Times, Iran cares about its international image because it aspires to be a regional leader. Iran appreciates the value of “soft power,” and it understands it loses prestige every time another protester is beaten on the streets for demanding democratic rights. That is why the government of Iran must never be allowed to carry out crimes against its own people  under the cover of international indifference.

Both Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari and WINEP’s Mehdi Khalaji have made this point. Bahari and Khalaji’s father were imprisoned in Iran, only to be released some time later. Both credit international attention and pressure for helping to secure their freedom.

With up to 1,500 Iranians imprisoned since the election unrest began, some prisoners now being executed, and countless more brave Iranians prepared to demand their human rights tomorrow, the world must continue to bear witness.

  • 3 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Sanctions

U.S. Decides to Punish Iranian Regime, Not People

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

Last week countless protesters across Iran made yet another brave stand against their government, in an event that had political reverberations across the world. The continued demonstration of strength by the Iranian opposition has not only showed the increasing isolation of Iran’s ruling elite, but also helped cement a dramatic policy shift that has been quietly taking shape in the White House. Rather than pursuing “crippling sanctions” against Iran’s entire economy — and crushing the middle class that makes up the backbone of the opposition movement — the White House has decided to instead focus harsh sanctions on specific elements of the Iranian government, according to senior administration officials speaking to the Washington PostLA Times, and Reuters. This is the culmination of a dramatically changed debate in Washington, and comes in stark contrast to the indiscriminate approach many in Congress favor. But it is exactly the approach that prominent leaders in the green movement and groups like the National Iranian American Council have supported for months.

  • 7 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Nuclear file

Obama Should End Silence on Human Rights Abuses in Iran

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

Frustration is growing among the Iranian people over the Obama administration’s silence on human rights abuses in Iran. Condemnations of Tehran’s abhorrent treatment of its people have been few and far between. But before nuclear diplomacy moves towards a premature ending, the Obama administration must act quickly to reinvigorate its human rights agenda. Failure to do so may cause any future focus on Iran’s human rights violations to be viewed solely as a means to punish Tehran, rather than a strategic imperative worthy of pursuit in its own right.

The Obama administration made a genuine effort to kick-start diplomacy by focusing on building confidence and turning back the nuclear clock through a deal brokered by the IAEA. But rather than succeeding to build trust and slow Iran’s nuclear advances, Tehran is threatening to expand the program ten-fold.

The Obama administration cannot be faulted for not having sought genuine diplomacy with Iran. Washington unilaterally changed the atmospherics between the two countries by reaching out to both the Iranian people and their rulers. Through strategic messaging, the Obama administration helped create circumstances conducive to successful diplomacy.

While the Administration’s efforts were genuine, and while the failure to reach an interim deal thus far has more to do with internal Iranian infighting than with Washington’s diplomacy, the modalities of the Obama strategy were problematic from the outset.

  • 30 November 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Washington Can Give An Israeli Attack On Iran The Red Light

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post:

Only a few weeks after US-Iran diplomacy began in earnest, it seems to be heading towards a premature ending. Rather than tensions reduction, the world has witnessed the opposite. Iran is refusing to accept a fuel swap deal brokered by the IAEA, the IAEA has passed a resolution rebuking Iran, and Tehran has responded by approving a plan to build ten more nuclear facilities.

With the potential end of at least this phase of diplomacy, fears of a disastrous Israeli attack on Iran are on the rise once more. But contrary to Washington’s official line, America is capable of preventing Israel from initiating a war that would further destabilize the Middle East.

Sign the Petition


7,350 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.



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