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  • 30 September 2013
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Dear President Obama: Thank You for Breaking 34 Years of Silence with Iran

Presidents Obama & Rouhani

President Obama broke 34 years of silence between U.S. and Iranian Presidents by calling President Rouhani on Friday.  This was a historic moment, and the White House should know they have strong support from the American people for bold diplomacy with Iran.  Tell President Obama he has your full support for diplomatic engagement with Iran by signing the petition below, and we’ll deliver the signatures directly to the White House!

The petition states the following:

Dear President Obama,
Thank you for breaking 34 years of silence between the U.S. and Iran. You have our full support for your diplomatic engagement with Iran towards a brighter future with human rights and security.

 

[emailpetition id=”5″ class=”aligncenter”]
  • 9 October 2012
  • Posted By Dylan Zehr
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Sanctions, UN

UN Report: Sanctions worsen human rights problems in Iran

In a recently released report to the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon updated the body on the dismal human rights situation in Iran.  The report paints a bleak picture of the Iranian government’s attitude and actions towards its own people, concentrating on the extensive human rights violations of the Islamic Republic, but also finds that sanctions are creating additional human rights concerns for ordinary Iranians.

The critical sections of the document report “torture, amputations, flogging, the increasingly frequent application of the death penalty (including in public and for political prisoners), arbitrary detention and unfair trials” within Iran. Other violations noted include infringements against the rights of women, against  opposition political figures and the general electorate.  The report notes that “authorities have taken certain positive steps such as the decision to omit stoning as a method of execution,” but that judges do still retain the discretion to order such a sentence.  Another section  observes that, “the revised Islamic Penal Code, which is yet to be approved…establishes new measures to limit the juvenile death penalty,” but cautions that the new code fails to end juvenile executions.

In the midst of all of the findings of Iranian government sponsored repression, the Secretary General also examines the impact of western sanctions, under the title “Economic, social, and cultural rights”:

“The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine.”

The report notes rising concerns about the sanctions among civil society groups:

“A number of Iranian non-governmental organizations and activists have expressed concerns about the growing impact of sanctions on the population and have noted that inflation, rising prices of commodities, subsidy cuts and sanctions are compounding each other and having far-reaching effects on the general population. They report, for instance, that people do not have access to lifesaving medicines.”

Sanctions also worsen current humanitarian problems by hindering relief efforts and basic medical care in the country, according to the report:

“Even companies that have obtained the requisite licence to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions. Owing to payment problems, several medical companies have stopped exporting medicines to the Islamic Republic of Iran, leading to a reported shortage of drugs used in the treatment of various illnesses, including cancer, heart and respiratory conditions, thalassemia and multiple sclerosis.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that ordinary people in Iran are being squeezed by human rights violations–between the repression of their own government on one side, and the indiscriminate pressure of U.S.-led sanctions on the other.  These sanctions are not helping to alleviate the suffering among ordinary Iranians, they are actively making the situation even worse.

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

Iran News Roundup 01/20

Terms of nuclear talks to be disclosed

The P5+1 released the  details of a letter sent to Iran last October demonstrating a willingness to hold talks with Iran amidst tough sanctions and speculation of a military conflict (Reuters 01/20).

Details of U.S. letter to Iran emerge

Laura Rozen reports the Obama administration used three channels of communication to deliver a message to Iran’s Supreme Leader regarding “red lines in the Strait of Hormuz” and conveying that the U.S. and its allies “remain committed to a diplomatic solution,” with Iran.  They sent the letter through the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, through the UN, and through Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Rozen also reports that European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton’s office has released her October letter to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, which outlined proposed terms for nuclear talks (Yahoo 01/20).

Sanctions Watch 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that “time is running out” for diplomacy with Iran and called for China and Russia to back increased sanctions on Iran.  “We need stronger, more decisive sanctions that stop the purchase of Iranian oil and freeze the assets of the central bank, and those who don’t want that will be responsible for the risks of a military conflict,” Sarkozy stated. (Reuters 01/20).

  • 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.

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

Iran News Roundup 01/18

Israel acknowledges Iran has yet to decide to pursue a nuclear weapon

Israeli officials will reportedly present an intelligence assessment next week that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon. This comes as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey visits Israel next week. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel is “very far off” from making a decision about a military strike against Iran. (Haaretz 01/18).

Obama has followed Bush’s Iran policy says former top State official

Nicholas Burns, the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the George W. Bush administration said that the Obama administration’s policy “has been very tough with Iran,” and “has essentially followed President Bush’s policy towards Iran in President Bush’s second term.” The statement comes amidst allegations by the GOP presidential candidates that president Obama’s Iran policy has been weak (Think Progress 01/17).

  • 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.

  • 23 June 2011
  • Posted By Ali Tayebi
  • 1 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Human Rights Monitor on Iran Faces Winding Path

The recent appointment of Ahmed Shaheed as the UN human rights monitor on Iran has triggered an assortment of reactions from the Iranian government regarding whether he will be allowed to visit the country for his investigation.

An international observer could interpret the varied responses as a sign of Tehran’s weakness in failing to put forward a united strategy.  Or, it could be viewed as a deliberate strategy on one of the most critical and vulnerable issues for Iran to not to have a single reaction, thus enabling Tehran to keep its options open.

The first reaction came from Iran’s parliament the day after Shaheed’s appointment. Tehran Times reported that Mohammad-Karim Abedi, Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, said Shaheed would not be allowed to travel to Iran, arguing that the UN Human Right Council should instead investigate “the United States, the UK and the Zionist regime” as “the greatest violators of the human rights in the world.”

  • 4 December 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • 3 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions, UN

Make It A Team Effort

A recent AFP article reveals the growing frustration of Russia and China in Iran’s attitude toward compliance with the IAEA. Traditionally dependable allies of Iran, both Russia and China supported the IAEA resolution on Nov. 26 censuring on Iran due for its undisclosed nuclear facility in Qom. This has led some to believe there may be a chance for another round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.

“Russia supports the idea of sanctions against Iran,” said Fyodor Lukianov, editor of the Russian foreign policy journal Russia in Global Affairs.

“The real question will be ‘what kind of sanctions’? There will be deep disagreement, and Russia will not support very tough sanctions like those sought by the United States,” he warned.

But for its part, China is not willing even to go that far.

China, which relies on Iran for oil imports, has made no public change of position, and experts warned that while it might appear to support a tougher sanctions regime it would work behind the scenes to weaken it.

“China has joined to put pressure on Tehran. In Western eyes this is progress, but this is not sanctions,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at the People’s University of Beijing.

“China’s position on sanctions on Iran is generally to dilute sanctions. I have not seen any indication that China is willing to put severe sanctions on Tehran. China still has huge energy cooperation with Iran.”

Russia and China play a vital role in any effort to influence Iran’s behavior, and the West would do well to remember that a multilateral approach is the only way to go.

  • 27 November 2009
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file, UN

IAEA Votes to Censure Iran

From Reuters:

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors voted 25-3 to censure Iran in a motion that gained rare backing from Russia and China, which have in the past blocked attempts to isolate Iran, a trade partner for both.

The U.S. envoy to the IAEA, Ambassador Glynn Davies, said in Vienna on Friday that international patience with Iran was running out and that “round after round” of fruitless talks could not continue.

Speaking to reporters in Washington later, the U.S. official said the vote showed “unity of purpose” among major international powers on Iran, and repeated that time was growing short for Tehran to come clean about a nuclear program that Western governments fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.”

The Washington Post reported Thursday on US efforts to secure China’s backing for the IAEA resolution:

Two weeks before President Obama visited China, two senior White House officials traveled to Beijing on a “special mission” to try to persuade China to pressure Iran to give up its alleged nuclear weapons program.

If Beijing did not help the United States on this issue, the consequences could be severe, the visitors, Dennis Ross and Jeffrey Bader, both senior officials in the National Security Council, informed the Chinese.

The Chinese were told that Israel regards Iran’s nuclear program as an “existential issue and that countries that have an existential issue don’t listen to other countries,” according to a senior administration official. The implication was clear: Israel could bomb Iran, leading to a crisis in the Persian Gulf region and almost inevitably problems over the very oil China needs to fuel its economic juggernaut, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, the White House got its answer. China informed the United States that it would support a toughly worded, U.S.-backed statement criticizing the Islamic republic for flouting U.N. resolutions by constructing a secret uranium-enrichment plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors voted 25-3 to censure Iran in a motion that gained rare backing from Russia and China, which have in the past blocked attempts to isolate Iran, a trade partner for both.

The U.S. envoy to the IAEA, Ambassador Glynn Davies, said in Vienna on Friday that international patience with Iran was running out and that “round after round” of fruitless talks could not continue.

Speaking to reporters in Washington later, the U.S. official said the vote showed “unity of purpose” among major international powers on Iran, and repeated that time was growing short for Tehran to come clean about a nuclear program that Western governments fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Nuclear deal drafted Wednesday, signatures due Friday

An agreement calling for Iran to send its domestically-produced low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment and then have it returned for medical use (what is being called by some the “elegant solution”) was accepted by negotiators in Wednesday’s negotiations in Vienna. Friday is the current deadline for delegations from France, Russia, the US, and Iran to sign it.

Mohamed ElBaradei called the development “a balanced approach to the problem.”

David Sanger wrote about concerns regarding the timing of uranium shipments:

NYT: “If Iran actually sends the low-enriched uranium to Russia in a single shipment, as the draft document states, it would have too little fuel on hand to build a nuclear weapon for roughly a year, according to the agency’s experts. If the fuel leaves Iran in batches, the experts warn, Iran would have the ability to replace it almost as quickly as it leaves the country.”

Julian Borger of the UK’s Guardian also wrote an article on the nuclear deal and a blog post based on discussions with a diplomat involved in the negotiations which addresses the timing of shipments. He writes:

“The fuel would be sent by the end of the year, and sent out in bulk, not in small parcels.”

He has also recently added new information on the possible deal:

Update: some more details. 1200 kg of Iranian LEU (just under three quarters of the present stockpile) would be shipped by the end of the year. The four signatories of the deal would be Iran, Russia, France and the IAEA, not the US (as stated in earlier reports). France’s role in fuel fabrication would be presented as optional, as a way of soothing Iranian sensitivities over past uranium deals with France that went sour.

The draft is a significant step forward in talks and a good reason for hawks to reign in sanctions rhetoric, much less talk of the military option for a while longer. Incidentally, and on a completely unrelated note…don’ t miss AEI’s event: “Should Israel Attack Iran?” this Friday.

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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