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P5 + 1/EU3 + 3 < Iran image002

10 months ago

  Iran and the P5+1 signed in Geneva (November 24th) an interim agreement that has already been called historic that should resolve the Iranian nuclear case within six months and that guarantees that Iran does not produce nuclear weapons. The highlights of the agreement (that have been disclosed) include, among other things, an Iranian commitment to suspend uranium enrichment to a level of above 5%, to dilute its roughly 200kg stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium or convert it to oxide which is harder to turn back into the hexaflouride gas, not to operate the new advanced centrifuges (IR-2M) that can enrich uranium at speeds that are five times as fast as the old generation of centrifuges (IR-1), and to suspend major development work at the Arak heavy water reactor (IR-40) for six months. Furthermore, no fuel can be put into the reactor, and it cannot be turned on, and more stringent inspection by the IAEA will be allowed. In return, the West will lift some of the sanctions on trade of precious metals and on the petrochemical industry and will unfreeze Iranian $6 billion in assets.  The process for lifting the sanctions will not be reversible, as the West is claiming, given that much longer and a tremendous diplomatic effort is required to begin. The lifting of the sanctions heralds the loosening of an important means of pressure on Iran. This leverage, coupled with the removal – at least on the part of the US – of the military option is perceived in Iran as a tremendous accomplishment. "The deal" (which Iran's Supreme Leader and President rushed to hail as Iran's success in "getting the West to recognize its enrichment rights"[1]) should not leave Iran with any enriched uranium at 20% (from which progress can quickly be made to enrich uranium to weapons grade), but allows it to continue to enrich uranium to a level of 3.5%, essentially leaving it the option to achieve weapon grade enrichment at any time it chooses and to carry out a nuclear break out by using the fast centrifuges in its possession. With regards to the West, and particularly the US, since Rouhani's election and even prior to that, the US has conducted backchannel negotiations with Iran (some of which were hidden from Israel) via Oman, Bill Burns and through the Asia Society, and wanted to "close a deal" with Iran (some of the agreements reached in Geneva were formulated through the secret bilateral channel between Iran and the US). To close the deal with Ahmadinejad, who served as an authentic and blunt expression of the Iranian regime (in the spirit of the Supreme Leader on the eve of the signing of the agreement on Israel's being an "inhuman entity" and a "rabid dog"), was too difficult for the American and European governments. Rouhani's election and his "diplomatic blitz of speeches" along with heavy use of social networks (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), which the "Iranian people" are prohibited from using, tweets and posts that have a nice ring to Western ears allowed the US and the West (again) to present the "moderates in Iran" and the "new face of Iran" and to sign an agreement, the key points of  which are familiar and been repeated for years. Ahmadinejad did not provide the goods – Rouhani, who deceived the West back in 2003, in a willingness to suspend enrichment and advance other critical components of Iran's nuclear program (e.g. Uranium Conversion Facility in Esfahan UCF) succeeded in his mission. The US preferred buying short-middle range peace and reject or even accept a nuclear Iran or a nuclear threshold Iran. Saudi Arabia, even more disappointed by American policy in the Middle East, has already announced in various channels that should Iran become nuclear, it would consider this option (as an antidote to the Shia nuclear bomb ) – perhaps through Pakistan, whose nuclear program it funded. This will lead to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and to a nuclearized Middle East. In addition, this will lead to a reinforcement of the "resistance camp" (Syria headed by Assad, Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorists that oppose the peace process) and even harden Palestinian positions in talks with Israel. Iran is well aware of the weakness in Washington. It has already won the battle over the nuclear fuel cycle (despite sanctions) and it appears to be on its way to victory in the political arena. This arena may be decisively influential in reshaping the Middle East after the "Arab Spring" or "Islamic Awakening", the preferred name by Tehran. The only avenue through which Iran can be prevented from achieving the nuclear option is through the final agreement to be signed in six months (unless Iran drags its feet, as usual) to ensure Iran is no longer able to enrich at all and to remove all enriched uranium up to 3.5 and 20% out of the country, and the number of UF6s that have not been introduced into the centrifuges, and to destroy the range of centrifuges (similar to destruction of the  Syrian chemical weapons production system). Evidently, this is not what is expected to happen – the agreement is historic and paves the way for a new, far more dangerous and bloody Middle East. [1] http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=contentShow&id=11312 Fars News Caricature: The Closed Lock of the 5+1 Has Opened

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Iran hinting that addition of Hezbollah to terror list might hinder improved relations with the EU image001

1 year ago

The European Union decision to place Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of terror organizations, adopted on the eve of Rouhani's inauguration as president of Iran, is yet another impediment to improving relations between the Islamic Republic and the European Union. The resolution was adopted following serious, primarily political, deliberations among EU member states, since Western intelligence agencies are thoroughly aware of Hezbollah's involvement in terrorism and that they act in accordance with orders from Tehran. In the United States and Europe, Hezbollah's involvement in terrorist activity in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries (Kuwait, Bahrain) and Bulgaria is recognized, as is its assistance to Iran in the elimination of the regime's opponents in Europe, particularly during the 1990s. It appears, however, that Hezbollah's decision to step in to save Bashar Assad's regime – at Tehran's instructions – ultimately tipped the balance towards adoption of the EU resolution. The decision (knowingly) ignores the basic fact that Hezbollah is a monolithic, hierarchical organization, where no distinction is made between its military and political wings. Heading the organization is Hassan Nasrallah, who considers Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as the religious and political authority. Nasrallah also heads the Majlis Shura – the supreme body in which decisions are made in Hezbollah. This entity is subject to the Majlis Shura alTanfiz, which is responsible for implementing Hezbollah decisions. Iran and Hezbollah have closed ranks in response to the EU resolution and emphasized that the decision was adopted following US and Israeli intervention and is designed to serve their interests. It was also emphasized that the decision would tarnish Europe's image in Islamic countries. Hezbollah Secretary General Nasrallah said, "This decision gives Israel legitimate coverage for any attack on Lebanon, and these countries (the European Union) have essentially become full partners and will be fully liable for any Israeli action against Lebanon, against the 'Resistance' (Hezbollah) or against pockets of resistance (Hezbollah) in Lebanon." [1] Iran quickly responded in support of Hezbollah, emphasizing that its battle against Israel and its support of the Lebanese people are the key reasons behind the adoption of the resolution. Iranian media highlighted the letter of support sent by Iranian President-Elect Hassan Rouhani to the Hezbollah Secretary General, in which he praised the organization for "its resistance against Israel" and emphasized Hezbollah's key position at the forefront as the entity that comprises the hope of the Lebanese and Palestinians for a victory over the Zionist regime (Israel)." Majlis Chairman Ali Larijani defined the EU's move towards Hezbollah as a dual approach that will be recorded in the dark history of European actions against Muslims. He stressed that this would tarnish Europe's good name among Muslims. Larijani emphasized that the Majlis (which issued a notice of support of Hezbollah) would continue to grant Hezbollah full support. In a similar vein, senior religious official Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi said that with this move, Europe has proven that it cannot be trusted, just as the US cannot be trusted. Iranian press emphasized that the decision indicates the rise of Iran and Hezbollah, and their growing influence in the balance of regional powers that is shifting due to the Islamic Awakening (the name used by Tehran to denote the Arab Spring) and highlighted the close ties between Hezbollah-Iran-Syria. It is against this backdrop that some editorials in the Iranian media have claimed that "the placement of Hezbollah on the European list of terror organizations essentially constitutes a move designed to contain Iran and limit its moves in the region." Conservative newspapers have even warned that Iran might reconsider its relationship with several European countries as well as its position regarding continued dialog on the nuclear issue with the P5+1. During his election campaign, Rouhani stressed that he would work to improve relations with Europe, but the addition of Lebanon's Hezbollah and the continued crisis in Syria – which is gradually spilling over into the Lebanese arena – will make improvement of relations difficult. These are material differences of opinion on one of the core issues of the region. At the same time, the decision to include only the military wing of Hezbollah in the list of terror organizations provides Europe with an opening (as it did with Hamas) for a dialog with Iran and with what it defines as the "political wing of Hezbollah." [1] http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?eid=545840&frid=21&seccatid=19&cid=21&fromval=1

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Playing Games in the Backyard of the US image001

1 year ago

Far away from the spotlights – that are generally trained on Iran's nuclear program – Iran continues to persistently establish its grasp in the backyard of the "Great Satan" (the United States) – South America. Outgoing Iranian President Ahmadinejad placed particular importance on this effort, while taking advantage of his relationship with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, as well as the leaders of Nicaragua and Bolivia to promote policies and establish practical programs. Iran and Hezbollah’s foothold in South American countries provides it with a convenient springboard for terrorist and drug activity – narcoterrorism – inside the US, as was exposed during the planned assassination of the Saudi Ambassador in the United States. Iran and the revolutionary countries in South America, who are positioned at two different ends of the world, share a revolutionary vision, which the present as being shared, despite the vast historical and cultural differences between them, in order to create a new world hegemony upon the ashes of what they define as American dominance. Chavez saw himself as the successor of 19th century revolutionary Simón Bolívar, "The Liberator" of Latin America from the Spanish conquest. At the same time, Ahmadinejad did not miss a single opportunity in his meetings with Latin American officials to present Iran and other countries that hold anti-American ideology in South America and Africa as a proper and just (Islamic) alternative to the US and the "collapsing capitalism" as a leader of the "free world." Iran is constantly seeking international and regional recognition of its power and ability to affect regional issues (the Syrian crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan, stability/downfall of regimes) and international issues (nuclear, oil and gas prices, vessel security in the Persian Gulf – Straits of Hormuz). As part of this effort, it is trying to present the US with a new balance of powers, one of which involves activity in Latin America – its backyard, to counter the far-reaching US presence around Iran – in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and the Persian Gulf. Iran is exploiting its ever-stronger ties and shared interests with Latin American countries to deploy it’s the game pieces familiar from the Middle East and African courts, where it is extremely active in subversive and propaganda activity (dissemination of Shiite Islam), terrorism and smuggling (drugs, weapons) – right on the doorstep of the "Great Satan." These infrastructures, which Iran is preparing in advance may serve it use on “D Day” to act against the US itself or against American / Jewish / Western interests in Latin America, through a variety of scenarios: if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked by Israel and/or the US, to initiate crises against the US (perhaps like the Cuban missile crisis), and if its sense isolation and being under siege increases. In the meantime, Iran is also exploiting its relative proximity to the US to illegally infiltrate (through Mexico) the US and is even laying the groundwork for terrorism infrastructure within the US. The expanding and increasing Iranian activity is not unknown to the US. In recent years, a long list of players in the intelligence arena, State Department, military, DEA and others have been warning of a sharp increase in Iranian activity and influence in Latin America as well as of the negative short-term, moderate-term and long-term impacts of this activity for US citizens and its Latin American allies. One major indication of the depth of American understanding of the increasing threat by Iran in Latin America is reflected in a cable sent by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the start of 2009 to all US embassies in Latin America. The cable, disclosed by WikiLeaks[1] states that Iran is attempting to forge close relationships with South American countries in order to break its increasing political isolation and become close with leftist countries that Iran perceives as partners in its anti-American political doctrine. The cable further stated that one of the major manifestations of this cooperation is the freedom Hezbollah operatives enjoy in their fundraising and ongoing activities, and their perception of Venezuela as a safe haven in which they can operate uninterruptedly. Later in the cable, the US State Department sent a long series of questions – Priority Intelligence Requirements – PIR to its embassies, which perhaps more than anything indicate the increasing concern in countries from Iran's expanding activity in Latin America and of (Washington's) desire to map the details of this activity in its backyard. It should be emphasized that the breadth and depth of the issues in the cable indicate that the intelligence gathering agencies and various enforcement organizations in the US have already accumulated vast information on Iranian activity and the former Secretary of State was asking to further focus the information. In mid-July 2013, the US convened a congressional hearing during which the updated report on Iranian activity in South America was presented. The report resulted from a bipartisan bill, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, signed into law by President Obama in January. The findings of the report were largely confidential, but its unclassified sections stated, among other things, that "Iran has increased its outreach to the region working to strengthen its political, economic, cultural and military ties. Iranian interest in Latin America is of concern. Iran has serially failed to live up to its international obligations and is a State Sponsor of Terror.[2] In May 2013, Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, published a comprehensive report of over 500 pages on Iranian activity in South America and its terror networks there. He was invited to present his findings to Congress in the aforementioned hearing, but the Argentine government prevented him from going. This could be due to the government's decision to reopen the investigation into the bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community building (AMIA) and to involve the Iranians in the effort. Iran is exploiting hesitancy in Washington and in Buenos Aires to promote its activities and deploy its terror network in South America, both as part of its desire to expand and become a world power that challenges the US and to lay the groundwork for a response through terror should its nuclear facilities be attacked. The evidence gathered by American intelligence agencies on Iranian activity is vast, but the political willingness to translate them into a tangible response is lacking at this time and prove to be insufficient when Iran decides to leverage the assets it has acquired and transform them into terrorist activity against the US in the spirit of the planned assassination of Saudi ambassador in the US without taking into account the fallout to US citizens during such an operation. At the current time, decision-makers in Washington have chosen to push this evidence aside in order to avoid creating cause for a head-on confrontation with Iran, particularly after the presidential elections and the rise of "moderate" Rouhani. Iran is persistently and diligently deploying its weapons on the global chessboard and is waiting for the opportunity to surprise. These infrastructures, some of which are already prepared and some of which are in process, will have a double meaning if Iran manages to acquire nuclear weapons and use them under the guise of the nuclear umbrella.   [1] http://cablesearch.org/cable/view.php?id=09STATE6423 [2] http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/725698-unclassified-annex-to-iran-in-the-western

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Rouhani: Reforms Reloaded? Not Just Yet image001

1 year ago

At the beginning of next month, Iran's President-Elect Hassan Rouhani is supposed to form a government and take office. The level of expectations of Rouhani, both domestically and in the international arena, is high. Rouhani's elections campaign and "moderate" messages on the need to fix the economy, freedom of expression, the state of human rights, improving relations with the world (settling the nuclear case as a necessary part of improving the economy), are feeding these high expectations. It is against this backdrop that the conservative principlists, who have yet to accept their loss and are still caught up in it, are trying, within the time left until the government is formed, to influence its makeup to be free of "any fitna member" (whom conservatives hold responsible for the protests following the June 2009 elections, headed by Rafsanjani, Khatami, Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi), and, subsequently, its agenda. Kayhan, which is affiliated with Iran's Supreme Leader and generally reflects his positions, is spearheading the conservatives' campaign. Through its editor, Hossein Shariatadmari, the paper is trying to redefine the concept of moderate and clarify that reforms and moderation that are being emphasized by Rouhani in his messages do not support the reformist camp in Iran, which adopted Rouhani during the elections campaign (primarily following the withdrawal of Mohammad Rezaei Aref from the race). The conservative camp is trying to constrain Rouhani before he forms his government, and is saying that he will only win support if he continues to act in compliance with the Velayat-e Faqih. Friday prayer leader Mohammad Khatami even emphasized that if the government deviates "even a centimeter from the principles of the Velayat-e Faqih, it would no longer be a part of us." Conservatives are emphasizing that Rouhani is closer to their positions and that the reformists are "trying to insert themselves into Rouhani's election victory and claim it as their own." Kayhan editor, Hossein Shariatadmari, in a series of editorials that he published and in arguments with critics of his article and the position of the paper, warned against what he called "the enemy's fifth column (the reformists), which is trying to pave its way into Rouhani's cabinet and set its policies" and recommended that the President Elect prevent the infiltration of fitna leaders into his government. Shariatadmari claims that although the issue of whether Rouhani is a reformist or conservative should be discussed, the main story (the fifth column) is far more important than that. He also warned against the ramifications of their indirect presence in the cabinet on Islamic and Revolutionary values and summarized that "there was no doubt that the presence of Fitna leaders in the President Elect's cabinet would seriously harm the regime and the good citizens of this country, and undoubtedly Dr. Rouhani himself would be the first victim."   In the meantime, at least until Rouhani takes office, executions in Iran are continuing (and increasing according to human rights organizations that are monitoring events in Iran), as are restrictions on the Internet, arrests of bloggers and journalists as well as removal of "offensive" posts on Facebook. The national move to disconnect Iran from the worldwide web is continuing and regulation over net traffic in Iran is increasing (in defiance of Rouhani's promises to improve freedom of speech on the Internet). Turning back the clock on reforms is one of the most difficult challenges for Rouhani. Conservatives and the IRGC are trying to mark the boundaries of the sentence and to emphasize the fate of the reformist government of Khatami (one of the Fitna leaders). They will not hesitate to intervene – as they did in Khatami's government (letter of officers) whenever reforms threaten them and their Revolutionary way, in their opinion. Kayhan letting loose against the Fitna leaders, which is also nothing new, is taking place at a sensitive time of the transition of governments in Iran, and would not have been possible without the approval of the Supreme Leader. This serves as a message to Rouhani in an attempt to halt or at least slow down the reforms he is planning. "The key" (one of the main symbols used by Rouhani during the elections campaign) to Rouhani's success to unlock Iran's domestic and international problems is the ability to navigate the stormy waters of Iran's domestic politics and challenges that it invites and the high expectations of him in the domestic and international arenas. Various officials have already cautioned Rouhani against the high level of expectations he set. The greater the expectations, the more brutal the disappointment. The regime may buy some time with the election of Rouhani, but if he fails to deliver, Iran might experience the same instability as other regimes in the Middle East, while increasing the rift between conservatives and what they call the "Fitna leaders" – the reformist camp.

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The Shattered Dream: Iran and Egypt after Morsi image001

1 year ago

Iran received the news of Egyptian President Morsi’s ouster by the military last week with mixed feelings. When Mubarak (“secular and Western”), Iran’s bitter and sworn enemy and a friend of the United States, was deposed this gave rise to hope in Iran that it would be possible to restore its shattered relations with Egypt more easily with an Islamic government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood. With the outbreak of the Arab Spring (known as the “Islamic Awakening” in Iran), Tehran argued that it was primarily influenced by the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and that this revolution had begun to sweep over the entire Middle East. The Egyptian revolution peaked on February 11, 2011, the same day as the celebration of the Revolution in Iran, a fact that even served to emphasize the symbolism and “divine intervention,” as Iran saw it. This hope was rapidly crushed in Iran. It appears that despite public pronouncements and mutual visits (by Morsi to Iran and Ahmadinejad to Egypt), not only did the relations fail to improve, they also began to deteriorate, mainly because of Morsi’s pro-rebel stance in the Syrian crisis, which led to Egypt sever diplomatic relations with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the murder of Shiite clergymen in Egypt, which illustrated the so-called Sushi (Sunni-Shiite) Divide, and mainly the peace treaties with Israel and relations with the United States. The critical Iranian tone towards Egypt gradually increased in the months leading up to Morsi’s ouster. Throughout his year in office, Iran continued to view its relations with Egypt as part of its overall philosophy of resistance against Israel and continued US involvement in the Middle East. Therefore, the Syrian front was perceived as part of an all-out battle against the West and Israel, and as such, Iran could not accept the direction in which Morsi was moving, as he maintained the nature of his predecessor’s relations with Israel, the West and the pro-Western Gulf states. After Morsi was deposed by the military, editorials in the Iranian press described Morsi’s “erroneous actions” at length, saying that at the end of the day, they are what led to his ouster. Some of the newspapers even unleashed the type of criticism that had been “reserved for Mubarak” and began referring to him as Pharaoh. They argued that Mubarak’s ouster alone was not enough to complete the revolution, and revolutions needed to take place in countries outside of Egypt and in Egypt’s set of priorities, primarily distancing themselves from the United States and Israel and moving closer to the Islamic countries, Iran and the “Resistance Front” against Israel (Hezbollah, Syria and Iran), which it leads. It was further argued that while Mubarak had been ousted, the heads of the military and intelligence and security organizations remained in place. In other words, the head was replaced, but Egypt continued to manage its affairs as it had in the past, “a captive of US policy and influence,” as Friday prayer leader Ahmad Khatami put it, that generates incitement against the Shiites. The Friday prayer leader in Mashhad said that while the Islamic Brotherhood was elected because they are and Islamic party, they veered away from the principles of Islam and, in the end, were deposed. Hassan Rouhani, President Elect of Iran, who will take office at the beginning of next month, is faced with a tough challenge. While he promised to restore Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbors, it would appear that the spirits of the past and dramatic changes that are sweeping across the Middle East are moving towards a clash between Shiites and Sunnis, Iranians and Arabs, East and West will continue to pursue him and to dictate his policies. Another difficulty Rouhani will have to face is the sense of security among the Iranian intelligence organizations and the IRGC, who are responsible for exporting the Revolution, disseminating Shiite Islam and courting the Shiites in regional countries. They view the recent developments and changes in the Middle East as an opportunity to increase subversive Iranian involvement and, as in the past, make it difficult to promote a conciliatory policy. At home, in terms of Iran, Morsi failed where Iran’s Islamic Revolution succeeded. Morsi’s failure may reinforce the need to protect the Revolution against upheavals such as the Arab Spring for the Iranian leader and the IRGC, and the era of reforms promised by Rouhani and which is reminiscent of the good old “Khatami days.” The conservatives have already begun attempting to channel Rouhani onto the revolutionary track and the principle of Velyat-e faqih, warning against the entry of a reformist “fifth corps” into the Rouhani government. Iran may experience a similar process of the ouster or weakening of the President (Rouhani) in light of an attempt to push reforms through too quickly.

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The Sushi Divide Widens image002

1 year ago

The violent murder of four Shiites last week in the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam in Egypt once again brought the increasing polarization of Sunnis and Shiites throughout the broader Middle East to the fore. The reshaping of the Middle East as part of the romantic name coined by the West – the Arab Spring – has exposed the historic depth of the Sunni-Shiite divide in all of the main arenas (Syria, Egypt) and even in secondary arenas (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen) and the integral part this divide plays in reshaping the Middle East, while making Iran a key and influential player. In Egypt, the raging mobs led by Salafist religious leaders, stormed the home of Hassan Shahata during a Shiite religious ceremony marking the birthday of the 12th Shiite Imam Mahdi (who according to Shiite beliefs is supposed to return and redeem the world and to lead it "with justice"). Preceding the storming of the home, which resulted in the death of Shahata and several of his supporters, was anti-Shiite incitement by Salafist religious leaders in the media and on social networks. In general, Egypt (which was for a brief time in the 10th century a Shiite nation during the reign of the Fatimid Caliphate) has for many years waged a battle to block attempts of Shiite infiltration, encouraged by Iran and through Hezbollah as its subcontractor, and the phenomenon of ‘Shiitization.’ This issue, a permanent factor behind tensions between countries, did not disappear, even after the ouster of former Egyptian President Mubarak. Iran condemned the murder and even attacked Morsi's weakness. Iran’s expectation of warmer relations between the two countries following Mubarak's ouster is dissipating. The roots of the Sunni-Shitte rift began in 632 ACE. Prophet Mohammad died without leaving an heir. Battles over the successor have remained every since and have left their imprint in the religious-political-social spheres of the Muslim world. Long-standing attempts to "bring the two schools closer" have not only failed, but have even managed to deepen the rift, becoming harsher, more complex and more charged, as Iran's sphere of influence over the largely Sunni region increases. For a brief moment, it appeared that Hezbollah would serve as a bridge between the Sunni and the Shiites after what Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei called "the divine victory" in the Second Lebanon War (33-day war as defined by Iran) in 2006 with Israel. Nasrallah was heralded on the "Arab Street," but Iran's true intentions quickly became clear, and the role that the committee carved out for itself and for Hezbollah in correcting a historical wrong of the Sunnis – stripping the House of Ali from the Prophet's legacy.     In the "eye of the storm" of "Hezbollah victory" in 2006, Sunni religious leaders were dazzled, including the most prominent - Hezbollah, and chose to ignore the unbreakable bond between Iran and Hezbollah, and Nasrallah and Hezbollah plan to implement the Iranian plan to launch a golden age and comeback of historic Shiites. In Iran, the Arab Spring became the "Islamic Awakening" and an opportunity to promote the agenda of the Shiite Golden Age. Iran viewed the chaos and turmoil in the Middle East as an opportunity to increase its subversive activities and to promote its agenda in various arenas with a Shiite minority. This was particularly conspicuous in Iraq, Bahrain (a Shite majority ruled by a Sunni minority) and Saudi Arabia. Above all else, Iranian involvement in Syria in an attempt to keep Bashar Assad in power stands out, as does Hezbollah's involvement in the fight and victory in Al-Qusair, which might prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Iran and the Shiites.  If some had wondered whether Hezbollah was a Lebanese or Iranian organization, the battle in Al- Qusair answered that question. Hezbollah, headed by Nasrallah, is an Iranian organization that strives to promote the Iranian agenda through its emissaries in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and North Africa. The battle at Al- Qusair was the straw that broke the Sunni camel’s back, and while not deterred from criticizing the Shiites up to that point, after Al- Qusair, the criticism became scathing, with the expression Hizb al-Shaitan (Party of Satan), which became a popular nickname for Hezbollah, at the heart. The desire to avenge the death of 100,000 dead in Syria is feeding various extremist Sunni groups across the Muslim world to wreak vengeance on the Shiites, further fanning the flames of this historic Sunni-Shiite battle. Adding to this tension is the political aspect of the Gulf nations. Headed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, they are providing assistance to the Sunni rebels in Syria and the Sunni minority in Iraq, as well as helping Bahrain stand strong against the Shiite tsunami. Iran, for its part, is standing strong and breathing new life into the "Shiite devil," a name used by the Sunnis, providing active assistance in the form of arms, money, training and propaganda to the Shiite minority in an attempt to take control of the main areas of contention, while exploiting American weakness and hesitation. The historic religious tensions have reached the boiling point and are spilling over into the political arena. Syria today is the battleground for the Sunnis against the Shiites, Arabs against the Iranians, the old Middle East order against the new order, the US vs. Russia, West vs. East. Rouhani's statements during his first trip following his election focus on restoring ties with the Gulf nations and Saudi Arabia – will encounter a harsh and bloody reality. Historical reality, which will probably be unable – or permitted to by the Supreme Leader and the IRGC – to return the "Sushi demon" back into the bottle.  

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Iran and US Have Reached a Nuclear Watershed image002

1 year ago

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President Elect, will assume his duties at the beginning of August. He stated during his campaign and in the press conference he held shortly after being elected that improving the Iranian economy would be his top priority, and this would include working to lift the sanctions, which have dramatically hurt Iran’s oil revenues and disconnected it from the global banking system. The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West are currently at a low, following the failure of the second round of talks in Kazakhstan. Rouhani, who in served as Iran’s nuclear negotiator in 2003-2004, said that he plans on turning a new page, but will not “give up Iran’s legitimate nuclear rights.” It may be that the first clue of Rouhani’s new-old direction can be found in the Rouhani campaign’s tweet, which quoted a statement by Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov, according to which Iran is ready to suspend its 20% uranium enrichment. Recall that in 2003, Rouhani agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, but at the same time, Iran continued to develop the uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, which is a critical component of the Iranian nuclear program. While serving as Iran’s chief negotiator, Rouhani (with the approval of the Supreme Leader) adopted a flexible negotiating strategy with the West. It agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, and evidently slowed the pace of development of the military components of its nuclear program. The strategy was derived, as Rouhani himself stressed during his election campaign, from Iran’s difficult geostrategic position in 2009, at the height of the war on terror led by the US, which Iran believed threatened to reach it as well. Today, Iran’s assessment of the scope and force of the threat the US (and Israel) pose to its national security and nuclear facilities is different. Iran believes (likely incorrectly) that the United States is no longer a threat and, in fact, is weak and in the process of withdrawing from the Middle East. This assessment, which has been widely held in Iran for several years and is what led it to a more defiant stand against the US and the West and even led (under Ahmadinejad’s government and negotiator Jalili) to the nuclear dossier being handed over to the UN Security Council and the imposition of heavy sanctions on Iran, the harshest of which (to date) have been the sanctions on the oil industry and banking system. The nature of the negotiations under the Rouhani government (with the blessing of the Supreme Leader) will be based on Iran’s assessment of US stature and determination in the region. Rouhani stated in his book (2011), National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy, that “negotiating with the Americans is like driving a Mercedes, while negotiating with Western countries is like driving an Iranian-made Peykan.” It now appears that given the hesitant US policy in light of the Arab Spring (or the “Islamic Awakening,” as it is known in Iran) in general and specifically the Syrian crisis, Iran believes that the power and determination of the US has waned, and that this may impact the nature of the talks and Iran’s insistence on concrete concessions. The Iranians are certainly reading the US press and the growing criticism spanning the entire political spectrum against the policy being led (?) by the President in matters related to the Syrian crisis, which is currently a “test case” for the development of a new regional order and the establishment of future regional and international alliances to shape the face of the Middle East. On the right, Charles Krauthammer writes that US policy reflects American withdrawal from more than the region and that Iran and the Shiite camp are filling the void; in the center – David Ignatius writes that Obama doesn’t want Assad to collapse too soon, as he is afraid that that extreme jihadist elements will be the ones to fill the void and is trying to build up the moderate camp (Idriss). However, the extremists are more ideologically and militarily determined and committed, which is why more concrete and daring measures are needed. On the liberal left – Fareed Zakaria writes that the actions taken by the Obama administration to date are insufficient given the determination of the enemy, unless the administration takes a Machiavellian approach designed to encourage another civil war with the involvement of Hezbollah (an argument Iran raises from time to time regarding US policy). In any event, the decision-making processes in Iran are influenced by the changes in the region and how secure Iran feels with them. As far as Iran is concerned, the victory – a Hezbollah victory – in al-Qusair is yet another link in the chain of regional victories in recent years – the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon, the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Second Lebanon War (2006), lack of a decisive win in Gaza (Iranian assistance to Hamas in the form of missiles), the survival of Bashar Assad, the Arab Spring and collapse of bitter enemies (Mubarak) and more. The bottom line is that Iran senses that US power is on the wane and that it is losing its hold on the region (a sense that is also developing among the leaders of the Gulf states and particularly the emirates – Bahrain – that are feeling Iran’s growing shadow over them). As far as Iran is concerned, this is not the time for concessions. There are, of course, also several issues facing the “resistance front” (Iran views Syria as the “golden link” in this front), and it is not reasonable to assume that now, against the back drop of weaker American influence, Iran will be willing to make real concessions and give the ever-weaker US a feather in its cap. To the contrary, Iran will view a weakening US as an achievement and honor for the country that managed to stand firm against the US throughout the Revolution. Gestures to an opponent that is losing strength could be perceived as weakness. As in the past, during the negotiations Rouhani will try to keep what Iran truly thinks to himself on the clerical home court. In the West, in line with tradition, the negotiations will provide what it wants and craves to hear moderation, willingness to compromise in diplomatic talks. In short, more lip service, Ketman (taqiyah in Arabic). Iran is looking at the greater regional picture, at the history-making changes and the possibility it thinks it may have for historical vengeance of the Shiites against the Sunnis and become the main power in the region – the nuclear weapons may provide the defensive shield for the survival of the Islamic regime. Its continued subversive acts are viewed as essential, and its efforts to achieve this will continue as a derivative of Iran’s perception of the changes in the region. In the end, the West – mainly the US – will need to restore or create from scratch the geostrategic conditions that existed in 2003 if it wants to force Iran to give up is military nuclear program. The situation today is far worse, both in terms of the advances that have been made in the Iranian nuclear program and its ability to produce a sufficient amount of fissionable material for a bomb in short time frames, and in terms of the status of the US and the West. When Iran looks around it, it sees the Sunni world under pressure, without the backing of a superpower, desperately trying to wage battles in the spheres of Iranian influence (Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon), Russia that is unequivocally beside Syria and American hesitation. If they really want to change course, they will need to convince Rouhani and through him Supreme Leader Kahmenei that they and the Islamic regime are facing a tangible existential threat. For now, it appears that Rouhani will receive a few more months of grace, while Iran continues to use its sophisticated centrifuges to accelerate its enrichment abilities and, as a result, the time to produce fissionable material for a bomb – and assemble it at a time of its choice.

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President Elect Rouhani Will Continue to Advance Iran’s Nuclear Program, in His Own Way nrp

1 year ago

Hassan Rouhani won the presidency in a landslide victory in the first round of Iran’s presidential elections. With over 50% of the vote, he left Saeed Jalili, his opponent in the debates and favorite of the Supreme Leader, as well as several other principlists far behind. While the reformist camp, which up until a few months ago deliberated over whether or not to run candidates given its experience in the previous elections, managed to close ranks around a single candidate in the home straight, the principlist camp was split. Regardless, Rouhani won more votes than all of the principlist candidates together. One of the main issues in the elections along with the economy was the nuclear issue and, more specifically, how Iran’s nuclear negotiators conducted themselves in the talks with the West and their responsibility for Iran’s harsh economic and international reality. This discourse continued even after the elections. Rouhani (and Velyati) argued that the obstinate and defiant approach taken by Saeed Jalili (the current Iranian nuclear negotiator) vis-à-vis the West is responsible for Iran’s isolation on the global scene as well as for the crippling sanctions. Rouhani promised to change this policy of defiance and adopt a policy of openness – including initiating an effort to improve relations with the United States – as he embraced during his tenure as head of the nuclear negotiations team in 2003-2004. Hassan Rouhani, who embodies the essence of the Revolution, may buy the Iranian regime some time in the medium term both at home and abroad. Domestically, he released the pressures of the “Iranian street,” which yearns to change their difficult situation after eight years under Ahmadinejad, and foiled any possibility of a “Persian Spring.” On the foreign affairs front – he will buy Iran time on the global scene and perhaps somewhat loosen the grip of the sanctions by presenting “moderate” Rouhani to the West. We can expect the West to “adopt” Rouhani, the only cleric among the presidential hopefuls, and give Iran (yet again) another opportunity (“last chance”) to resolve the nuclear issue without conflict. Rouhani has several tough challenges to face: On the domestic front ¾ He will need to translate his promises to change the charged environment on the home front and the increasingly militant discourse against the leaders of the Green movement. The electorate expects him to free Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (calls supporting him were chanted in the streets of Tehran before, during and after the elections), who are currently under house arrest, ease the strict enforcement of the dress code, allow reformist newspapers, magazines and blogs to be published, promote women’s rights, and mainly improve the economy. Resolving economic issues depends on the second dimension that will be a challenge during Rouhani’s presidency ¾ On the global scene – He will need to continue the nuclear talks with the West, and progress on that front could lead to the gradual lifting of the sanctions; the Syrian issue is another point of contention with the West; the widening rift between the Sunnis and Shiites in the region in light of the aide Shiite Hezbollah is providing to Assad; the Arab Spring and its impact on Iran (Bahrain) and its relations with the West; continued human rights violations in Iran (an issue the West has opted to play down during the nuclear talks). The IRGC, the Islamic regime’s watchdog, may move to restrict Rouhani’s room to maneuver, and if he deviates from the limits they set, they may send him a threatening letter, as they did to President Khatami at the peak of the reform process he set in motion and which has since died. In the months leading up to the election, they warned against any contact with the US and claimed that renewing diplomatic relations could lead the economic situation to deteriorate, and in any event goes against Iran’s revolutionary discourse. Rouhani, as opposed to Saeed Jalili, is a diplomat and a sophisticated nuclear negotiator. In several interviews he gave in the past, he made the same statements he did in the debates with Jalili in the run up to the elections. He explained the rationale behind Iran’s decision to suspend uranium enrichment in 2003 (which was criticized by Jalili). According to him, it stemmed from an assessment of the regional and geostrategic circumstances and the time – central of which was the American action in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of its war on terror. The negotiation tactics used by Rouhani at the time, reduced international pressure on Iran, moved the country away from the Security Council and sanctions, and allowed (as Rouhani admitted) the nation’s scientists to promote its nuclear programs quietly. Rouhani is expected to act to reduce tension with the West and even agree, again, to suspend uranium enrichment to 20% in order to have some of the sanctions lifted. Despite the sanctions, Iran today is in a far better position than it was in 2003, both in terms of its achievements in the field of nuclear technology and in terms of its status and geostrategic influence. Rouhani will attempt again to leverage the West’s desire for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis and will make the most of his experience as a negotiator. He is supposed to step into power on August 3rd. In the meantime, since being elected, he has already visited the grave of Khomeini, the father of the Revolution, and met with the Supreme Leader to “receive advice and guidance.” Rouhani,  who embodies the essence of the Revolution, will continue to promote Iran’s nuclear programs in his own way… In the West… there will evidently be nothing new.

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International View All →

Iran Daily Brief (IDB) has run its course image002

7 months ago

After years of  reporting dramatic changes in the Iranian domestic arena, nuclear dossier and violation of human rights,   Iran Daily Brief comes to an end February 6 on the verge of the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution  . Thanks to all our devoted readers. IDB staff  

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FM: Iran’s refusal to recognize Israel has remained unchanged image004

7 months ago

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has denied comments attributed to him about the possibility of Iran recognizing Israel. "The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran on its refusal to recognize the Zionist regime (Israel) has not changed at all, and no part of my words can be taken to mean this…What I said in these interviews aimed to explain the reasons for prolonged crisis in the Middle East due to the violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, in particular their right to determine their own future, form an independent government and for the displaced people to return to their motherland. We have insisted on these in all negotiations and interviews, and said that they should not seek excuses to justify the crimes of the Zionist regime." Zarif dismissed any other interpretation of his words saying: "Of course such mischievous acts are not unusual, given how desperate the Zionists feel in the face of the Iran's active foreign policy. However, domestic political circles and media are expected to avoid spreading rumors."

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“Our FM is a puppet, all strings are being pulled by someone else” image006

7 months ago

A biting satirical article on opposition website khodnevis by Obaid San-Khouzani: "Atonement for the man of understanding" I absolutely loved what Zarif said. He is right. You can't ride a camel with a bent back. In all countries, all that the governments have is real and realistic, but with us (in Iran) it only exists in cartoons. This is how the foreign minister must behave – speak the truth, have understanding. A serious person. It is impossible to ride a camel with a bent back. He tells himself, it is better for me to say it once and not have to suffer for nine months (Persian proverb meaning that it is better to say No at the beginning and spare us the repercussions later on), a war at the start is better than peace in the end. And this guy has already said from the start the final word and that's that! Now the ball has fallen in the lot of the biggest one of all. He should do what he wants. He prefers to make clear declaration of his authorities.  When US Secretary of State Kerry asked Zarif to discuss Syria, Zarif, apparently gently, with a smart, deep glance looked at Kerry and said with full honesty and candor "I don't have the authority," and what he wanted to say was "Kerry, really, how stupid are you….?" I loved what Zarif said. In all other countries, governments have real, realistic matters. Here, we have cartoons (photo shows a carbon copy of the issue. They have presidents with full authority. We have a president with no authority. He cannot replace his ministers. He cannot visit prisons. Some European countries have kings but he does not have any authority. Here, we have an omnipotent Supreme Leader, who, in addition to his legal authorities which are all-encompassing, also perceives himself to be above the law and occasionally issues fatwas here and there. At least God knew who this is and took one hand from him (Khamenei's hand was injured in a attack by the Mujahideen-e Khalq). Imagine what kind of fire he would light if he had two hands. What is the foreign minister? What does Kerry think, that this is the US and this poor man is Obama? Our FM is only an illusion. All of the strings are being pulled by someone else."    

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Swedish FM tweets visit to Iran “Human rights must be a key part of any new dialogue” image008

7 months ago

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt met with his Iranian counterpart and tweeted from snowy Tehran. "Also had talks on extensive use of death penalty in Iran. In many cases heavy drug offenders. But death sentence is always unacceptable"; Human rights must be a key part of any new dialogue. We must be firm. But a more open relationship on other issues would help here as well.

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Foreign correspondents to cover revolution anniversary image010

7 months ago

  Director General of Ministry of Culture for Foreign Press Mohammad Mansur Kushesh announced that that "107 non-resident correspondents from the US, Russia, France, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Tunisia, Japan, Spain, Tunisia and Qatar plan to cover the 35th  Islamic Revolution victory anniversary." He added that  reporters are working for : LBC, ARD, NBC, AP, NTN24, CBS News, AFP, al-Mayadeen, al-Etejah, al-Ghadir, Asia, Palestine al-Youm, Russia Today, Sama al-Donya, Washington Post, Anadolu, Christian Science Monitor, Liberta Monthly, A.B.C, Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, Tunisia News Agency, al-Sabah, al-Hesad, Habdou, al-Tunisia and Los Angles Times. He also added that 53 resident correspondents working for AFP, TIMA, Bloomberg, EFE, ZDF, NIIK, ENEX, APIN, AEP, DPA and UPI will take part in the ceremony…11 non-resident correspondents from Germany, the US, Britain, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Spain and France are to cover Fajr International Film Festival as well.

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Majlis criticizes Zarif’s frequent meetings with American counterpart image002

7 months ago

During the Majlis session, memos written by Majlis members were read out for the executive head in the government. One Majlis representative submitted a memo to FM Mohammad Javad Zarif, criticizing his frequent meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry, and "the nerve of the Americans in continuing sanctions." The General Department of Media Diplomacy in the IRGC rejected reports surrounding the meeting between Iran's FM and the US Secretary of State, emphasizing that the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich conference focused on the nuclear issue and the next round of talks with the 5+1.

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FM denies saying “Holocaust should not happen again” image002

8 months ago

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif categorically denied the remarks attributed to him about Israel, stressing that the Iran's view about the Zionist regime (Israel) has not changed. Some Israeli media, including Ynetnews and German TV station Phoenix, misquoted the foreign minister as saying that "Holocaust should not happen again" and that "the extermination of Jews by the Nazi regime was tragically cruel and should not happen again." Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hasan Qashqavi rejected media reports about Zarif's statements as untrue, and said: "In a phone conversation that I had with Mr Zarif he completely rejected the remarks attributed to him and declared that Iran's stance about the (Zionist) regime (Israel) is what has been repeatedly announced by the country's diplomacy apparatus and this stance has not changed."

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Iranian FM: Not our job to recognize or not recognize Israel image004

8 months ago

In an interview on the German morning show  MorgenMagazin, FM Javad Zarif answered questions about the nuclear talks and the Holocaust. Zarif answered questions in English and avoided giving any direct responses to the interviewer's questions. He said that the massacre of the Jews cannot be denied and that no one can deny this. "This crime must not be repeated. But if the Palestinians were involved in this crime?" Zarif added that Iran always defends the rights of the Palestinians. Instead of providing a direct answer to the interviewer's question, Zarif discussed the occupation of Palestinian territories and the obstacles hindering the return of Palestinian refugees. The interviewer again asked Zarif for a direct answer to the question about Israel's right to exist. He asked "If we ignore your position about the Israeli government, do you recognize Israel as an official country?" Zarif said: this issue must be resolved by the Palestinians. We are far from this area. It is not our position to recognize or not recognize it. The Palestinians need to accept this. Offers must be placed on the table that are acceptable to the Palestinians. The Holocaust does not need to be an excuse to violate Palestinian rights."

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Military View All →

AEOI spokesman: Iran not to discuss polonium issue with IAEA image012

7 months ago

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman of the (AEOI) Behruz Kamalvandi has denied reports that the talks with the IAEA to be held on February 8 in Tehran are to focus on the polonium  issue. "We do not consider it apt to respond to the foreign media reports. We will continue [nuclear] negotiations. However, there has been no decision to discuss the polonium issue at the talks held in Tehran. "We are not going to discuss any issues that have already been examined and closed." The report mentioned that Iranian officials responded to IAEA's questions on polonium in 2008 and that their responses complied with the IAEA's report.

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Rouhani: critics of the nuclear agreement “uneducated”; Majlis protests statement and criticizes Foreign Minister for reportedly saying that the Holocaust did occur and recognized Israel, intend to summon him for a hearing image014

7 months ago

President Hassan Rouhani criticized the critics of the Geneva agreement, calling them people of "limited intelligence". "Is it that only a small group, which is being fed from a special place, should be talking? They are talking and criticizing, and there is no problem. Why is it that an illiterate group is talking and why are our university professors speaking privately and not having their say?" He called on lecturers and academicians to display courage in this matter. Several Majlis representatives submitted a written memo that criticized President Rouhani for calling opponents of the Geneva Agreement illiterate. In addition, several written memos that criticized the manner in which the basket of goods were distributed causing long lines for citizens were also delivered. Another memo was delivered against the FM for adopting an ambiguous stance with regards to the occupying Israeli regime and "confirmation of the Holocaust."  Majlis member  Aqamohammadi  has said that "Zarif's stance on the Zionist regime (Israel)  is against our principles….Zarif's stance regarding the Zionist regime (saying)  that Palestinian people should make their own decision about their future is contrary to our principles." A number of Majlis members are gathering signatures for a motion to question Zarif on his recent remarks. Qasem Jafari said that "these remarks are against the principles of Iran's Islamic system. Because Imam Khomeini  called the Zionist regime (Isreal)  a cancerous tumor, and the Supreme Leader [Khamenei] calls it a bastard, and our Islamic system has paid a big price so far with its refusal to recognize this regime." Ja'fari said that "The Foreign Minister's actions have led to the Majlis members decision to question him, even though they had tried to avoid this stage before. Therefore, they will sign the motion to submit it to the presidium." Earlier, the Majlis members had intended to question Zarif for refusing to publish the full text of Geneva deal before, but the Majlis Speaker opposed the plan and thus the question plan was procrastinated. On February 3, Zarif has categorically denied the remarks attributed to him by foreign news channels.  

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FM spokeswoman: US excessive demands effective only for US public opinion and are worthless in nuclear negotiations image008

7 months ago

Marzieh Afkham, who` was reacting to Wendy Sherman's remarks (that Iran’s nuclear issue would not deflect attention from Iran’s human rights records, their support for terrorism and interventions in the region), said that “these remarks would only perpetuate US failures in foreign policy in recent years, something pointed out by the US president as well. Our nuclear negotiators will not permit Iran’s scientific achievements to be spoiled…and Iran will not allow subjects other than the nuclear issue to be discussed at the final negotiations."  

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Former top nuclear negotiator: final agreement, if defined well, can last for three to five years image004

7 months ago

Iran’s former ambassador to Germany and former top nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian has said that Iran “will never” dismantle its nuclear enrichment program, and that Tehran’s current promises to curb these activates are only temporary “If we accept limitations in the final deal to build trust on enrichment, (the limitations) should be only for the trust-building era and not forever…We also define Iran’s practical needs for our nuclear program and activities and not for major powers. This issue should be always seriously focuses in final talks… The final agreement, if defined well, can last for three to five years, and then Iranian nuclear issue will be back on its regular course."

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U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearings on “Negotiations on Iran’s Nuclear Program” image006

7 months ago

Wendy Sherman Under Secretary for Political Affairs U.S. Department of State; David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financing U.S. Department of Treasury David Albright, President, Institute for Science and International Security and Mark Dubowitz Executive Director Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified before the committee.

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Rouhani praises Ministry of Intelligence, calls it “the eyes of the regime” image008

7 months ago

In a meeting with the Intelligence Minister, his deputies, managers and employees of the Intelligence Ministry, President Rouhani expressed gratitude and appreciation fro the efforts and sacrifice of the anonymous soldiers, adding that citizens are our blessing and our intelligence services are designed to protect their safety. The government wishes to create calm and security for all citizens. Citizens must feel confident with a strong and professional intelligence ministry. Dr. Rouhani adds that "a well-functioning intelligence ministry is the hope of the suppressed", and clarified that enforcing civil rights, national and religious minority rights is a necessary and undeniable interest. Rouhani emphasized that we want society to emphasize appropriate relations with the parties, opinion makers, academicians, religious leaders and intellectuals, media and press and support an atmosphere of criticism in society. The Intelligence Ministry is the eyes of the regime, and its employees are not affiliated with any one party and current. The Intelligence Ministry belongs to the people, belongs to the regime and belongs to the path of the imam (Khomeini) and the Supreme Leader (Khamanei). The regime is like a fortress in which the Intelligence Ministry is at the top, monitoring the enemies movements as well as inside the fortress whenever necessary.  

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Memoirs of Quds Force commander from the Iran-Iraq War image010

7 months ago

Qassem Suleimani, IRGC  Quds Force commander wrote the preface to the book The struggles of Victory, which details the operations carried out by Division 41 Tharallah of Kerman Province during the Iran-Iraq War during which Qassem Suleimani served as commander of the fighters from Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces, as well as commander of Division 41 Tharallah.

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Iranian FM asks American counterpart to base his statements on the Geneva agreement and not on the fact sheet published by the White House

8 months ago

An informed source in Munich reported that during the meeting between Zarif and John Kerry, Zarif called on Kerry to rely on the plans of the Geneva agreement in his statements and not on the fact sheet, which is not based on anything.  

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Economy View All →

First VP: nuclear agreement has weakened the architecture of the sanctions

7 months ago

Eshaq Jahangiri said that the nuclear agreement has weakened the architecture foundation the sanctions, adding that "they cannot impose sanctions on Iran easily." He called for continued negotiations between Iran and the world powers, saying "In fact, negotiation is a difficult task that should be pursued." Jahangiri also said that "opportunity must be provided for the presence of countries that are interested in cooperation with Iran."  

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Labor Minister warns of specter of 8 million unemployed image016

7 months ago

Minister of Labor, Cooperatives and Welfare Ali Rabei has warned of the specter of rising unemployment and stressed the need for government support to entrepreneurship "Based on official statistics, we have 3.5 million unemployed now and 4.5 million university students will soon hit the job market." He added that Rouhani's government is adopting measures to tackle unemployment through a plan which is aimed at reviving entrepreneurship "If we want to secure the future of the revolution, we should take the issue of entrepreneurship very seriously. Entrepreneurship must become a big social movement." IMF has predicted Iran's unemployment will rise to 14.7% in 2014 from 12.5% in 2012.

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Iran’s Minister of Commerce seeks strategic economic partnership with France image012

7 months ago

At a conference held in Tehran on the economy and capital investments between Iran and France, Iran's Minister of Commerce, Mines and Trade Mohammed Reza Nematzadeh discussed the strong potential of both countries to increase the level of trade, saying that if we realize the existing potential, the volume of commercial exchanges between the two countries will exceed $5 billion. He added that over the past several years, pressure applied to French and Iranian companies prevented the realization of opportunities between the two countries, particularly in gas and oil projects. The auto industries of both countries also experienced certain difficulties. Nematzadeh discussed the rich oil and gas sources, mines and Iran's geopolitical status, emphasizing that in light of the fact that France has advanced technological capabilities in various industrial sectors, Iran and France can be good partners. He said that Iran hopes to open a new page in economic ties between the two countries and make it into a strategic partnership.

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Head of the Presidential Office: French businessmen well aware of the Iranian economy’s diverse potential image014

7 months ago

Head of the Presidential Office French businessmen are well aware of the Iranian economy's diverse potential Mohammad Nahavandian, who is also former head of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines,  said that the visiting French 140 members business delegation should convey the message to their country's statesmen that "there are serious grounds for cooperation with Iran which cannot be ignored". Nahavandian addressed a meeting attended by the visiting French delegation and officials of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines. He also urged the Iranian businessmen to adopt similar approach in their interactions with Iranian authorities. He said that  "The French businessmen are well aware of the Iranian economy's diverse potential, and now they should resume the previous relations…access to the regional market is one of the features of the Iranian economy…Iran is the gateway to the neighboring countries' market of 350 million (potential consumers). Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham welcomed the presence the French businessmen and described the visit as one of the outcomes of the implementation of the nuclear deal which has persuaded so many foreign companies to look for a bigger share from Iran's lucrative market. "A French economic delegation is visiting Iran to get first hand information on economic capacities and investment opportunities in various economic sectors of Iran." She added that various economic delegations from Europe have visited Iran in recent months and the visit of the French delegation is aimed at promoting interactions between private sectors of the two countries.  

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Iran to repair 10 aircrafts after resuming import of spare parts following nuclear deal image015

7 months ago

Iran Air's (national carrier)  executive director Farhad Parvaresh said that the embargo on the importation of aircraft spare parts to Iran were suspended following the Geneva deal. He said "Certainly, with the import of spare parts to Iran, at least 10 Iran Air aircraft, which were left idle due to the lack of spare parts, will become operational." Parvaresh added that the US Secretary of the Treasury has to issue permits to companies that want to sell aircraft parts to Iran, which will take between two weeks and two months. He said that companies have submitted their applications and are waiting for permits "Considering the deal, we hope that we will receive the spare parts we need for Iran Air aircraft," The head of Iran Air also said that buying new aircraft is a priority for the company and the company considers increasing its flights during the Nowruz holidays inside the country and abroad. Parvaresh said that Iran air " plan from one to two flights per week to the USA a lot of initial steps are required for flights from Iran to the USA. Air agreements between the two countries and coordination by the Foreign Ministry are initial steps. However, in any case, there is potential for that."

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America’s main concern is collapse of the sanctions architecture before comprehensive deal is sealed image018

7 months ago

In a "Javan" editorial headlined: "The reason behind America's military threat",  Hadi Mohammadi maintained that "It is true that America is using the sanctions-negotiations strategy towards Iran and that truly  believes that an ongoing economic pressure and sanctions will eventually lead to the submission of Iran and clear the way to fruitful negotiations, but America and the White House have other growing concerns that have caused them to adopt stances suggesting that they are ready to change the rules of the game and jeopardize the negotiations with military threats. ... America's main concern is the fact that European economic delegations have rushed into Iran to establish economic and industrial ties with Iran. This will destroy the sanctions architecture before any comprehensive (nuclear) deal is sealed. It means that the Americans are finding themselves extremely vulnerable in the atmosphere created in Iran following the Geneva agreement and the signing of the Joint Plan of Action, especially because the United States knows that Iran will not stop its nuclear program. Therefore, America's main concern is that, on the one hand, it cannot put more pressure on Iran and, on the other hand, it is not optimistic about the prospect of resolving Iran's nuclear issue. So, the plan of dismantling Iran's nuclear facilities is an illusion."  

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Delegation representing top 100 companies in France arrives in Iran image018

8 months ago

On Monday, a delegation that included 100 French companies, including Total, Alstom, Orange telecom and Renault,  arrived in Iran. A new round of talks are scheduled to begin in Tehran between the National Iranian Oil Company and French Total, as well as between the National Iranian Gas Exports Company and France's GDF Suez.

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Iran receives $500 million – first installment in compliance with Geneva agreement

8 months ago

Vice-president Mohammad Baqer Nowbakht confirmed  that Iran has received the first portion of unfrozen funds, $500 million, in line with the initial phases of the nuclear deal. Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, added that "the first tranche of $500 million was deposited in a Swiss bank account, and everything was done in accordance with the agreement." Each installment interval is $450- 550 million. Iran will receive a final bulk installment of $4.2 billion on the last day of the six-month period.  

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Human Rights View All →

Zibakalam summoned for interrogation for criticizing Iran’s nuclear program image018

7 months ago

Tehran University Professor Sadegh Zibakalam, one of Iran’s leading political scientists and a prominent analyst in international media, has been summoned for interrogation over remarks criticizing Iran’s nuclear program. He was later released on $2000 bail. Zibakalm said that "Two days ago, I was summoned by the Revolution prosecutor of the Culture and Media Court." Zibakalam added that he had been accused of disseminating lies, forging and propagating against the system and falsely accusing the judiciary and judges. Zibakalam said that his recent open letter to Hussein Shariatmadari, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (in Keyhan newspaper), was the reason for the legal action against. Related: In letter to Kayhan editor, Sadegh Ziba Kalam asks “How did the nuclear program help Iran’s economy advance and prosper? -  

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“There are streaks of Ahmadinejad’s populism in Rouhani as well”; prominent director sharply rebukes Rouhani’s address to the opening ceremony of the 2014 Fajr Film Festival image020

7 months ago

Jafar Panahi to Hassan Rouhani: "Do Not Try to Establish a New System of Censorship!" "To my utmost regret, after reading the complete (Rouhani's) address, I was reminded of the words of Sadegh Zibakalam: “There are streaks of Ahmadinejad’s populism in Rouhani as well.” I believe that the latter is more dangerous, because while the former’s policies had merely become superficial slogans, this administration is consciously trying to establish a new system of censorship.

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Freedom House: Iranian execution of poet further darkens Iran’s human rights record image021

7 months ago

Freedom House condemns Iran’s execution on January 27 of renowned Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani.  In July 2013, an Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, on charges of “waging war on God,” “spreading corruption on earth,” and “questioning the principle of velayat-e faqih” (the rule of the jurisprudent, Iran’s system of vesting supreme power in an unelected cleric)… Freedom House urges the Obama administration and the EU to place these human rights violations at the center of their engagement with Iran. Progress in talks to limit Iran’s nuclear program will do little to soften the continuing humanitarian disaster that is Iran’s human rights record.

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Rouhani approves execution of Arab–Iranian poet image020

7 months ago

Last month, Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, made a whirlwind visit to Ahvaz, capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan. According to official media, Rouhani spent much of his time there dealing with “a number of sensitive files” left undecided by the outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One such file concerns 14 human rights activists who had been in prison for up to two years. When Rouhani took over as president, he had them moved from the Karoun Prison in Ahvaz to an unknown destination. There, last July, an Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal presided over by a single judge, Ayatollah Muhammad-Baqer Mussavi, sentenced the 14 to death on charges of “waging war on God” and “spreading corruption on earth” and “questioning the principle ofvelayat-e faqih” (the guardianship of the jurist). Before he left Ahvaz, Rouhani gave his green light for the executions. The first two executions were carried out last Monday when Hashem Shaabani and Hadi Rashedi were hanged in an unidentified prison. Shaabani wrote a poet Seven Reasons Why I Should Die after being indicted:   For seven days they shouted at me: You are waging war on Allah! Saturday, because you are an Arab! Sunday, well, you are from Ahvaz Monday, remember you are Iranian Tuesday: You mock the sacred Revolution Wednesday, didn’t you raise your voice for others? Thursday, you are a poet and a bard Friday: You’re a man, isn’t that enough to die?  

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Iran’s new methods of internet filtering puts users at risk image021

7 months ago

New concerns about the safety of internet communications have emerged following statements by Iranian authorities about the government’s utilization of new, more complex, and undetectable filtering methods. The new methods used by government organizations not only limit access to Internet websites, but they also put the users’ communication security at risk, making them vulnerable to hackers wishing to access their Internet communications. These new actions can allow the identities of users of hacked websites to be tracked, making their data available to government organizations, in addition to making it very easy for the hackers to access the users’ data.  

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Nine citizens who converted to Sunni Islam arrested in Ahvaz and transferred to Karoun Prison

7 months ago

According to a report by human rights activists, security forces broke into the homes of the nine without any warrant and arrested them due to their conversion.  

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Opposition to release of Maryam Shafipour

8 months ago

Judge Salavati opposed the release on bail of political prisoner Maryam Shafipour. In a hearing that took place Monday morning in the revolutionary court in the matter of Maryam Shafipour, the first student activist arrested following Rouhani's election, Judge Salavati opposed a temporary release on bail.  

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Domestic View All →

Live interview with Rouhani ready to air stopped by IRIB head image023

7 months ago

 A scheduled television interview with Rouhani was nearly prevented by head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Ezatollah Zarghami  in what appears to be controversy over the choice of the journalists who would conduct the interview.  Zarghami was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. ISNA reported that the cause of the delay had to do with disagreements over the choice of journalists who would conduct the interview. The two journalists who conducted the interview were Kazem Rouhani-Nejad and Sonia Pouryamin.  "Shargh" reformist daily twitter account twitted : #BREAKING: Adding the female presenter to the program by president office, the IRIB head prevented Rouhani’s live address, report. Thomas Erdbrink NYT's Tehran Bureau Chief followed the story in his twitter account "We are a bit late and the viewers might be tired," Iran president Rouhani hints at the bizarre public fight over access to state TV". Later on, the Rouhani interview began with no new messages (read on Twitter).

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Karroubi’s son: my father did not sin and there is no need for him to apologize to the “demigods” image024

7 months ago

The son of Mehdi Karroubi responded to statements made by the spokesman of the Judiciary Chairman on the need to express regret and for punishment of people who were associated with the Fitna, and emphasized that his father did nothing wrong. The son added that my father does not believe in demigods on earth and therefore will not express regret to any such figures. Karroubi was recently transferred to his private home, where he continues to remain under house arrest. Mostafa Purmohammadi has said that  "If the perpetrators of the 1388 (June 2009) sedition (post June presidential election protest) repent, they can return to the society. This includes Karroubi and Mousavi, too."  

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Basij commander calls for increased births

7 months ago

In a speech to the heads of the Basij medical community and Minister of  Health, Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that there was a need to spread the Islamic and Iranian format in health and medicine. Naqdi later discussed Iran's population, saying that ways to increase the number of births needed to be reviewed. According to Naqdi, the declining birthrate constitutes a strategic and existential threat to Iranian security and serious action must be taken in this area.  

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Gas company warns of gas crisis if increased consumption does not recede image027

7 months ago

Heavy snow continues to fall in various parts of Iran. At the same time, emergency situations were reported in northern cities that are not accustomed to snow. The National Iranian Gas Company issued a warning to the public in the major cities to reduce their use of gas and that failure to do so would result in a gas crisis in northern cities and serious drop in gas pressure there. Tehran has been reportedly nearly paralyzed due to the snow and its school system has been shut down.

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Iran working on minority welfare, “extremist groups trying to incite in order to harm nuclear agreement image029

7 months ago

" Special adviser to the president on national and religious minority affairs Ali Yunesi said that the government is making a concerted effort to prevent extremism and tendentious moves by some security organizations towards minorities. He added that to date, the issues of some minorities, including Jews and Dervishes, have been handled.  According to Yunesi, the government has, within a short period of time, resolved some of the problems of the minorities. For example, Jews asked not to study on their Sabbath. This was a "minor request" and the government had no problem granting it. The Ministry of Education easily solved the problem. Yunesi said that extremist groups are applying pressure to the government that is trying to fulfill minority rights. When asked about who he meant, Yunesi answered "the same extremist groups that do not want the government to move ahead with the nuclear agreement."

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Cyber police commander in Tehran discusses unit activity image031

7 months ago

Mohammad Mehdi Kakovan announced that the cyber police does not infiltrate private space of people and does not track emails and chats between two people. According to Kakovan, the cyber police handles violations in cyber space that includes economic crimes, theft from bank accounts, phishing, morality crimes, harassment on social networks as well civilian issues. Kakovan said that most violations in this area are related to theft from bank accounts of citizens, followed by events that take place on social networks. Kakovan said that since the internet is so prevalent in society, so is the number of cyber crimes. He further said that most of the people accused in this area are experts in the internet and have an academic education in information and communications technologies.

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Head of President’s Special Inspections Office appointed

7 months ago

Rouhani has appointed Mohammad Esmaeil Shushtari as the head of President's Special Inspections Office.  

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Intelligence Ministry withdraws complaint against press association

7 months ago

Chairman of the Executive Council of the Press Association Mashallah Shamsolvaezin  announced that the Ministry of Intelligence has withdrawn its complaint against the Press Association. He added that the hope was that the Association would reopen after the "Ten Days of Dawn". Shamsolvaezin wished to express gratitude for the efforts of the three government ministries that were appointed to this task by the president as well as to the Intelligence Ministry for withdrawing its complaint.  

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