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

Iran News Roundup: July 3, 2012

US Increases Military Presence in the Persian Gulf

In response to proposed legislation in the Iranian parliament to close the Strait of Hormuz, the United States has “quietly” moved additional fighter jets, minesweepers, stealth warplanes, and other military reinforcements into the region. Navy ships are in place patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, reportedly to ensure that the waterway isn’t mined. “The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even think about it,’” one senior Defense Department official said (NYT 7/3The Guardian 7/3).

The senior Defense Department official added, “This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions,” (NYT 7/3).

Second Day of War Games Continues in Iran

Today is the second day of war games in the north-central desert area of Semnan province in Iran by Revolutionary Guards Corps. The efficiency of warheads and missile systems, including the Shahab 3 missile and unmanned drones, are being tested partially in response to the implementation of an EU embargo on Iranian oil. Iran has announced a new ballistic missile called Arm, which allegedly has the capacity to detect and hit radar bases (WSJ 7/2; Reuters 7/3).

Russian Think Tank Suggests Russia Could Sell S-300s to Iran

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, commented today during an interview of anti-aircraft missile sales that, “The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions.”  He suggested, “If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn’t like the outcome” of a peaceful transition to a new government, “it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran” (Bloomberg 7/3).

NITC and Sinopec Struggle to Resolve Freight Dispute

  • 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

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

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

  • 15 February 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 02/14

Injured Iranian held responsible for Thailand bombings

 A man believed to be Iranian had both legs blown off after attempting to throw a bomb at Thai police in Bangkok.  Two other nearby explosions, which resulted in several people being injured, accompanied this attack.  These explosions occurred a day after bombing attacks against Israeli diplomatic staff in India and Georgia. Although the bombing targets remain unclear, Israeli officials have accused Iran’s complicity in these attacks and believe that this is part of a greater campaign being perpetrated by Iran and Hezbollah amidst rising tensions. Responding to this incident, Israeli defense minster Ehud Barak released a statement, saying that this “proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror.”  (BBC 02/14)

In addition, University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole notes that Indian investigators do not believe Iran was involved in the embassy bombing, instead assuming culpability on “Indian Mujahidin,” a pro-Palestinian Sunni group responsible for staging a very similar attack against Taiwanese tourists in 2010.  Cole says that this sort of operation is unlikely to have been undertaken by Iran, since India is a crucial trading partner and one of the few remaining nations that continue Iranian oil purchases.  (Juan Cole 02/14)

Meanwhile, former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel warns that the “spy versus spy” game played by Israel against Iran and Hezbollah has the potential to cause disaster if it is not contained.  Riedel cites the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the 1982 IDF invasion of Lebanon as examples of crisis brought about by terrorist attacks and efforts of retaliation.  (Al-Monitor 02/13)

 Iran to install domestically produced fuel rods in nuclear reactor

Iranian officials have announced that tomorrow they will insert their first-domestically produced fuel rods into a nuclear research reactor in Tehran, marking significant advances in Iran’s nuclear program.  President Ahmadinejad, who previously indicated an “important” announcement would be made regarding Iran’s nuclear program, is expected to be in attendance at this event.  “Because Western countries were unwilling to help us, we began enriching uranium to 20% to make nuclear fuel rods,” stated Ali Bagheri, deputy chief of Iran’s national security council.  (RIA Novosti 02/14)

U.S. groups call upon China to support Iran sanctions

 Various American advocacy groups aiming to further isolate Iran are planning to use Vice President Xi Jinping’s upcoming U.S. trip to criticize China’s continued purchases of Iranian oil as well as call upon the next Chinese leader to work more closely with Obama on the prevention of Iranian enrichment.  One such group, the Partnership for a Secure America, submitted a letter to Jinping, urging him “to make clear that China will significantly reduce its imports of oil from Iran, uphold the applicable resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and use its economic influence with Tehran, coupled with robust diplomacy, to help resolve this issue peacefully.”  China is currently the largest single importer of Iranian oil.   (NY Times 02/13)

Tensions emerging between Iran and Azerbaijan

Azeri officials have contested Iranian claims that Azerbaijan has been assisting Israeli Mossad’s activities against Iran by allowing MEK members to travel through Azerbaijan and onto Israel to receive training related to the recent assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.  An Azeri foreign ministry spokesman said the Iranian complaint was likely in response to Azeri diplomatic protests over last month’s alleged Iranian plot to kill Israelis in Azerbaijan.  Azerbaijan maintains friendly ties with the U.S. and Israel, while it long has had shaky relations with Iran over the ethnic Azeri minority in northern Iran.  (BBC 02/13)

Turkey to continue import of Iranian oil

Turkey has announced that it will not reduce imports of Iranian oil despite the U.S. and the EU’s robust sanctions, which have made financial transactions with Iran increasingly difficult.  Recently Turkish delegates met with Saudi officials in Riyadh to discuss the possibility of importing additional Saudi oil as a substitute for Iranian oil, but ended up ruling against the decision.  Many industry analysts believed the Riyadh talks were simply a ploy to attempt to negotiate lower prices for Iranian oil.   Turkey imports about 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, consisting of 30% of daily domestic consumption.  (Reuters 02/14)

U.S. Navy: Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf

Amidst escalating tensions, Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf, including small submarines and fast-attack craft intended to swarm and overwhelm superior U.S. naval forces.  According to Vice Admiral Mark Fox,  “some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used a suicide explosive device.”  This tactic is of particular concern to Washington, and is reminiscent of Al-Qaeda’s suicide boat attack in 2000 against the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen that resulted in the death of 17 sailors.  (Reuters 02/13)

Authorities crackdown as Iranians protest detention of opposition

Supporters of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi organized several protests throughout Tehran to mark the anniversary of the two former politician’s arrest and call for their immediate release. Mousavi and Karoubi were arrested following an event showing support for the “Arab Spring” protests.   (BBC 02/14)

Among those advocating for their release is Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, who released a statement saying, “I support the call [of political prisoners] and invite all freedom-loving people across the globe to do all they can for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran.”  (ICHRI 01/ 26)

EA Worldview has reported that security forces have turned out in great numbers, and have already arrested several protestors.  Also, Iranian security forces turned off virtual private networks (VPNs), making Twitter and other social networking sites impossible to access using typical methods.  (EA Worldview 02/14)

Notable Opinon:

 In a recent piece for Foreign Policy, Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt reviews the tensions between U.S./Israel and Iran from an outsider’s perspective, and questions American and Israeli fears over Iran’s intentions and capabilities:

 “If a sensible Martian came down to Earth and looked at the saber rattling about Iran, I suspect he/she/it would be completely flummoxed. For our Martian visitor would observe two very capable states — the United States and Israel — threatening to attack a country that hardly seems worth the effort. The U.S. and Israel together spend more than $700 billion each year on their national security establishments; Iran spends about $10 billion. The U.S. and Israel have the most advanced military hardware in the world; Iran’s weapons are mostly outdated and lack spare parts. The U.S. and Israeli militaries are well-educated and very well trained; not true of Iran. The United States has thousands of nuclear weapons and Israel has several hundred, while Iran has a vast arsenal of … zero. Iran does have a nuclear enrichment program (which is the reason for all the war talk), but the most recent National Intelligence Estimates have concluded that Iran does not presently have an active nuclear weapons program. The United States has several dozen military bases in Iran’s immediate vicinity; Iran has exactly none in the Western hemisphere. The United States has powerful allies in every corner of the world; Iran’s friends include a handful of minor non-state actors like Hezbollah or minor-league potentates like Bashar al Assad (who’s not looking like an asset these days) or Hugo Chávez.”

To read the full article click here.

Additional Notable News:

China has sent an assistant foreign minister, Ma Zhaoxu, to Iran to attend two days of talks related to Iran’s nuclear program.

Khabar Online reports that a Special Currency Control Committee has decided to replace the US dollar with the Turkish lira, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Indian rupee, Russian ruble, and Euro for importers.

Iranian media are reporting that the President’s media advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, will receive a six-month prison sentence for “insulting the Supreme Leader” on his personal blog.

Today, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued guidance concerning the implementation of sanctions relating to Iran’s Central Bank and other Iran-affiliated institutions.


  • 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.

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

Iran News Roundup 01/19

U.S. proposes a direct line of communication with Iran 

A  a conservative Iranian lawmaker, Ali Motahari, claims that the U.S. has sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader proposing direct talks. The Obama administration has denied the claim. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast claims that the proposal for direct talks was embedded in the U.S. letter warning Iran against closing the Strait of Hormuz (ABC 01/18).  

CNN reports that the United States has suggested creating a direct line of communication with Iran in order to prevent any escalating miscalculations between the two countries (CNN 01/18).

Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, at a joint news conference with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Turkey is prepared to host nuclear talks between Iran and Western countries. He urged for negotiations to begin immediately (Washington Post 01/19).

U.S. crafting new “confidence building measure” with Iran

The U.S. is crafting a new diplomatic proposal that would require Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20% and to give up its existing stockpile of 20% uranium  (Yahoo News 01/18).

EU set to approve central bank and oil sanctions

EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on an oil embargo against Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank at a meeting scheduled for Monday, according to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (Reuters 01/19). 

The director general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said that the U.N. would press for full Iranian cooperation in meetings with Iranian officials. An IAEA delegation is set to seek explanations about allegations regarding Iran’s nuclear program (Reuters 01/19).

Meanwhile, Deputy House Whip Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), returning from a trip to the U.S.’s Gulf allies, said there is widespread concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for sanctions, but great reservation and worry about a possible military attack against Iran (Think Progress 01/18).

Japan, China statements on Iran oil

China’s premier Wen Jiabao, at a press conference in Qatar, defended their oil trade with Iran while warning against Iran developing and acquiring a nuclear weapon (The Guardian 01/19). Meanwhile, Japan has said that it is likely to reduce Iranian crude purchases over the next three months (Reuters 01/19).

Former Revolutionary Guard commander criticizes Iranian government

A high-ranking former Iranian commander, Retired Rear Adm. Hossein Alaei, has sparked protest and anger in Iran for publishing a letter perceived to be critical of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. In the letter, Alaei implicitly compared the recent government crackdowns on the opposition to the repression during the time of the shah. Alaei publicly expressed regret for having written the letter after angry mobs, supporters of Khamenei, attacked his home (Washington Post 01/18).

Notable opinion: 

In a Politico op-ed, author and journalist Hooman Majd discusses the 5 main U.S. misconceptions about Iran:

Top five, 10 or 100 lists are standard at the end of the year. Though the Iranian year doesn’t end for roughly two months, given the escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, with threats and counter threats over the Strait of Hormuz — to say nothing of most GOP presidential candidates’ views on what to do about Iran — it might be useful to compile one on the growing Iran crisis, early 2012 here and late 1390 there.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Three prominent journalists have been arrested in Iran ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections.

The New York Times reports that Iran’s currency fell to its lowest level ever against the dollar on Wednesday.

Nato’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has urged Iran to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar, during a trip to Turkey, warned Arab states against aligning themselves too closely with the United States.

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

Iran News Roundup 01/17

U.S.-Israel missile defense drill cancelled as concerns grow over Israeli attack against Iran

Senior military officials announced that the largest joint US-Israel missile defense drill has been postponed (Reuters 01/15).  Israel officially claimed this was due to budget cuts, but some U.S. and Israeli officials said the exercise was mutually postponed to not inflame tensions with Iran (Yahoo 01/16).  Still other U.S. officials expressed concerns privately that Israel had postponed the Spring exercise to clear the way for a strike on Iran, while others speculated that the exercise was cancelled by the U.S. to send a signal to Israel and Iran (IPS 01/16).

U.S. defense leaders have become increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing an attack against Iran, stepping up plans to protect U.S. facilities in the region in case. U.S. officials have been sending Israel private messages warning about the disastrous consequences of a conflict with Iran (WSJ 01/14) Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will be visiting Israel on Thursday amidst the United States’ increasing concerns of a possible Israeli military strike on Iran (Haaretz 01/15). Additionally, Sen. George Mitchell said a case has not been made for attacking Iran (Think Progress 01/13).

UK foreign minister William Hague said that all options remain on the table regarding Iran, but said, “we are clearly not calling for or advocating military action. We are advocating meaningful negotiations, if Iran will enter into them, and the increasing pressure of sanctions to try to get some flexibility from Iran” (The Guardian 01/15).

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman downplayed reports that the U.S. is increasing military presence in the Middle East is solely because of Iran (Reuters 01/13).

U.N. Secretary-General condemns assassination of Iranian scientists

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying that “Any terrorist action or assassination of any people, whether scientist or civilian, is to be condemned. It is not acceptable. Human rights must be protected” (Reuters 01/13).

Iran’s foreign minister sent a letter to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests, saying Iran has evidence of U.S. involvement in the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Roshan.  “We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the letter stated (Reuters 01/14).

Meanwhile, nearly a 100 scholars, academicians, and journalists have signed a petition condemning the murder of Iranian scientists.

  • 18 May 2010
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • 2 Comments
  • 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.

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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