Archives For: Iran

by Dish Staff

The Supreme Leader has always been pessimistic about the negotiations between Tehran and Washington, but in a statement yesterday, he called them “useless”:

Speaking to Foreign Ministry officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Iranian negotiators who have conducted the talks with the United States and five other world powers, and he did not call for abandoning them. But he appeared to give succor to Iranian hard-liners who are adamantly opposed to discussions that could lead to a scaling back of Iran’s nuclear program, which they insist is intended for peaceful purposes only. The remarks came two days after President Hassan Rouhani stirred controversy in Iran by calling opponents of the talks “cowards” and telling them to go to hell. Rouhani, considered a moderate, has been pushing for an agreement that would end the crippling economic sanctions against Iran. Khamenei has consistently been far more skeptical about the talks.

Reza Haghighatnejad highlights the apparent split between Khamenei and Rouhani:

In sharp contrast with Khamenei’s address earlier today, Rouhani has talked about the impact of eased sanctions, the practicalities of working with the U.S. to combat Islamic State insurgents in Iraq, the greater opportunities to tackle world issues. It’s not only the nuclear program that the world needs to talk about, Rouhani’s camp suggests, and last year’s historic phone call between Rouhani and U.S. president Barack Obama was a symbol Western media–and Rouhani—gladly embraced. Rouhani has even sought out public opinion within Iran, commissioning a poll earlier this year to identify just what the ordinary Iranian public thought about increased contact with the West.

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Iran’s Crackdown On The Press

Aug 6 2014 @ 11:20am

The WaPo’s reporter in Tehran, Jason Rezaian, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, were arrested a couple weeks ago:

As one of few foreign correspondents in based in Iran, Rezaian’s reporting hardly breached the sensitivities that the Iranian ruling apparatus is known to crackdown upon. His last two articles for The Washington Post covered baseball in Iran (“In Iran, a spark of enthusiasm for America’s national pastime”) and coverage of the nuclear negotiations from Vienna (“World powers agree to extend talks with Iran”). He was arrested in his home, alongside his wife, upon his return from Vienna. …

It is unclear on what charges the Iranian-Americans are detained, as official state media have verified the arrests but not the reasons behind them. An unconfirmed report by Tasnim news website, associated with Revolutionary Guards, claimed the arrests were on suspicions of spying.

The Economist notes that “Iran has long been hostile to the media”:

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In a long and wide-ranging interview with David Rothkopf, Zbigniew Brzezinski opines on how the US should engage the Middle East today:

I think the whole region now, in terms of the sectarian impulses and sectarian intolerance, is not a place in which America ought to try to be preeminent. I think we ought to pursue a policy in which we recognize the fact that the problems there are likely to persist and escalate and spread more widely. The two countries that will be most affected by these developments over time are China and Russia — because of their regional interests, vulnerabilities to terrorism, and strategic interests in global energy markets. And therefore it should be in their interest to work with us also, and we should be willing to play with them, but not assume sole responsibility for managing a region that we can neither control nor comprehend.

He also thinks it’s wiser to pursue accommodation with Iran than to continue treating it as a greater threat than it really is:

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Putting Off The Iran Deal

Jul 21 2014 @ 12:21pm

Over the weekend, negotiations with Iran were given a four-month extension. The state of play:

The six powers want Iran to dramatically reduce its nuclear programme for a lengthy period of time and agree to more intrusive UN inspections. This would expand the time needed for Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon, while giving the world ample warning of any such “breakout” push.

The two sides are believed to have narrowed their positions in recent weeks on a few issues such as the Arak reactor, which could give Iran weapons-grade plutonium, and enhanced inspections. But they remain far apart on the key issue of Iran’s capacities to enrich uranium, a process which can produce fuel for reactors but also the core of a nuclear bomb.

The administration is trying to stay upbeat:

Obama administration officials insist that the talks have made major progress that justified giving negotiators until November to pursue a final deal. In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said“the very real prospect of reaching a good agreement that achieves our objectives necessitates that we seek more time.”

The Senate, however, remains a wild card – and AIPAC has been doing its usual work to buttress the case for war and for scuttling any agreement. The problem there, it seems to me, is that the necessarily private diplomacy has not allowed for a more robust and public discussion as to the costs and benefits. My own view is that the American public could be persuaded of the sanity of the least-worst option when it comes to preventing Iran getting a nuclear bomb; but the administration has been timid and defensive in its public outreach. Maybe that would change after a possible agreement. But it may be too late by then.

Majid Rafizadeh believes, for his part, that “the gaps between the six world powers and Iran would more likely require more than four months of extensions as well as a significant shift in Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance on his government’s nuclear program, or a remarkable change in the six world power’s stance”:

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Extends to the US:

A new study published this week by the National Iranian American Council argues that the various trade sanctions the United States has maintained on Iran for more than a decade actually hurts the American economy. The NIAC, a U.S.-based organization that pushes for a peaceful resolution of differences between Washington and Tehran, calculated that between 1995 and 2012, the United States has forfeited between $135 billion and $175 billion in export revenue as a consequence of not doing business with the Islamic Republic. …

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Forced To Marry At 15

Jul 16 2014 @ 11:20am

Naimeh Doostdar highlights a troubling trend in Iran:

According to research conducted by [the advocacy group Justice for Iran], which covers 2006-2007 and 2013-2014, the rate of marriage for girls below 15 years of age is on the rise. Statistics published by Iran’s National Organization for Civil Registration reveal that, between March and December 2013, more than five percent of married females were below the age of 15. The same figures reveal that, among the registered marriages in Iran, more than one third of women were below the age of 19.

But these are official figures only, provided for registered marriages. There are strong indicators that the actual numbers for underage marriage are higher, especially because the statistics released by the government do not include those marriages entered into by young women aged between 18 and 19.

Why is underage marriage on the rise in Iran? There are a number of reasons:

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Iraq isn’t the only place where America and Iran are fast becoming best frenemies. “When it comes to Afghanistan,” Michael Kugelman argues, “Tehran and Washington tend to see eye to eye on many core issues, including the Taliban”:

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A Hail Mary Pass From The Iran Hawks

Jul 14 2014 @ 12:02pm

With the July 20 deadline for a final agreement looming, John Kerry returned to Vienna yesterday for another round of nuclear negotiations with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying “very significant gaps” still remain between Washington and Tehran’s positions. Opponents of a deal have already moved to preempt any possible success in Vienna, with House Foreign Relations Committee chair Ed Royce and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel circulating a letter

demanding that Obama consult Congress more closely on the ongoing negotiations and suggesting that Iran will have to satisfy Congressional demands on human rights, terrorism, ballistic missile development, and other issues unrelated to the ongoing nuclear negotiations before it will approve major sanctions relief. …

Of course, President Barack Obama himself can provide a certain degree of sanctions relief under executive order as he no doubt intends to if a deal is struck. And there is no doubt that Congress has a role to play in lifting sanctions. But the letter’s assertion that there is no exclusively defined “nuclear-related” sanction against Iran under US law and that any relief can only be extended by addressing a host of non-nuclear-related issues appears calculated to sow doubts about Obama’s ability to deliver among Iran’s leadership, thus strengthening hard-liners in Tehran who argue that Washington simply cannot be trusted.

The messaging continued on the Sunday talk show circuit. After Zarif went on “Meet the Press” to reiterate that Iran sees no benefit in developing a nuclear weapon, hawk-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu, on “Fox News Sunday”, called that “a joke.” Speaking of the Iran hawks, James Traub urges Obama to “tell them — politely of course — to go to hell”:

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In an interview with Chotiner on Iran’s role in the Iraq crisis, Vali Nasr argues that Iraq now has a stake in the Iranian nuclear negotiations:

[I]t could hurt Iraq first of all if the U.S. and Iran stop talking to each other altogether and there’s no more positive momentum in the process. It’s much more difficult to say, “ok let’s forget about this gargantuan issue on which we failed, let’s focus on this other issue.” So you’re gonna make it much more difficult. The nuclear issue has now become the pivot of U.S.-Iran relations: It either creates an environment in which they can have constructive engagement more broadly, or not. Iran is going to follow its own policy, completely separate from the United States. But the irony is, unlike Syria, in Iraq, Iran’s independent policy is much more in line with the United States’, whereas in Syria they were clearly on opposite sides. …

But Nader Hashemi argues that there is “no connection whatsoever” between the nuclear and Iraq/Syria tracks when it comes to American-Iranian relations:

For 35 years, the two sides have been so distant. Getting to a nuclear deal—if we can actually get there—will be a huge accomplishment. I don’t think it necessarily means that there is going to be an agreement on any other regional issues.

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Negotiators are meeting in Vienna this week to begin hammering out a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, but the endeavor still faces a few major stumbling blocks:

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome, six-power diplomats said, is Iran’s stance regarding its uranium-enrichment centrifuges, which one negotiator described as a “huge problem”. … “The Iranians have not yet shown a willingness to reduce their centrifuges to an acceptable number, making it difficult to envision a compromise at this point that we could all live with,” the negotiator told Reuters. Another Western official close to the talks confirmed the remarks as accurate.

A senior Iranian official seemed to confirm the assessment. “Our Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) has set a red line for the negotiators and that cannot change and should be respected,” he told Reuters. “Uranium enrichment should be continued and none of the nuclear sites will be closed.

On another key disagreement, however, Iran is backing down:

Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, acknowledged amid a week of negotiations in Vienna that Tehran now accepts the principle that as part of the deal sanctions on its economy would be gradually eased as Iran gradually complies with limits on its nuclear activities.

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