Archiv für den Tag 3. November 2014

Eye on Iran: Iran Blocks Inspections, Hobbling Nuclear Deal

WSJ: „Iran’s government continues to stonewall United Nations weapons inspectors, complicating the Obama administration’s effort to forge a nuclear agreement with Tehran by a late-November deadline, according to U.S. and U.N. officials. The U.S. and the European Union have said Iran’s cooperation with the U.N. in addressing evidence that Tehran conducted studies in the past on the development of atomic weapons is crucial to reaching a broader accord on the future of the Iranian nuclear program. But Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Friday there has been almost no progress in resolving the outstanding allegations of weapons development, despite a year of negotiations with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani ’s government… ‚What is needed now is concrete action,‘ Mr. Amano said during a speech in Washington. ‚Progress is limited.'“

Guardian: „A British-Iranian woman detained in Iran for trying to watch a volleyball game has been sentenced to one year in a notorious prison, according to her family and lawyer. Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, a law graduate from London, was found guilty of spreading ‚propaganda against the regime‘ following a secret hearing at Tehran’s revolutionary court. Ghavami has been detained for 127 days in prison since being arrested on 20 June at Azadi (‚Freedom‘ in Farsi) stadium in Tehran where Iran’s national volleyball team was scheduled to play Italy. Although she had been released within a few hours after the initial arrest she was rearrested days later. Speaking to the Guardian, Ghavami’s brother Iman, 28, said the family felt ’shattered‘ by the court verdict. ‚We are really disappointed because we felt she would get out on bail immediately. She’s been through a lot and now it’s a full-year sentence and she’s already served four months,‘ he said.“

AFP: „Global powers wrestling to hammer out a ground-breaking deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions are moving complex talks into high gear with a ‚critical‘ three weeks left for an accord. The main players — US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton — will crisscross the globe ahead of the November 24 deadline seeking to narrow the gaps. Ashton will first meet in Vienna on November 7 with political directors from the so-called P5+1 grouping — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States as well as Germany — her spokesman Michael Mann said. She will then fly to Oman to meet with Kerry and Zarif in closed meetings, in the country that first hosted secret talks between old foes Iran and the United States… ‚We have critical weeks ahead of us,‘ Kerry told PBS television. ‚The stakes for the world are enormous. I hope the Iranians will not get stuck in a tree of their own making, on one demand or another, in order to try to find a way together. I’m hopeful, but it’s a very tough negotiation.'“

Nuclear Program & Negotiations

Bloomberg: „Iran will meet with the U.S. and other world powers next week in Oman in advance of a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal that would curtail Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran will hold talks with the group known as the P5+1 nations — the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany — in Oman’s capital, Muscat, on Nov. 11, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement today. That meeting will follow two days of talks that Secretary of State John Kerry plans to hold in Muscat with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Catherine Ashton, who represents the European Union in the talks.“

Al-Monitor: „Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Al-Monitor Oct. 31 that Iran’s halting cooperation so far in explaining possible military-related nuclear work would not derail ongoing negotiations on a long-term nonproliferation agreement. ‚It should not be an impediment,‘ Amano said after the conclusion of remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington… Many experts doubt that a deal can be concluded next month but suggest that the major elements of an agreement could be reached. ‚I see no possibility of achieving a comprehensive deal by Nov. 24,‘ Robert Einhorn, a former senior nuclear expert with both the Obama and Clinton administrations who hosted the event with Amano, told Al-Monitor. ‚The best that can be achieved is to reach agreement on the key parameters of a deal and to take several more months to flesh out the parameters.'“

Sanctions Relief

Fars (Iran): „Secretary of Iran’s Second International Auto Exhibition Sasan Qorbani announced that the number of international foreign companies that will take part in the exhibition has considerably increased. ‚A sum of 55 foreign automakers and part-makers will take part in the exhibition,‘ Qorbani said on Sunday. He noted that the number of foreign guests participating in the event has also increased to 190, and said, ‚All European and Asian carmakers will take part in Iran’s auto expo.‘ Last week, Qorbani announced that Benz, Volkswagen, Volvo, Fiat, Rover, Skoda, Renault, Peugeot, Kia and Toyota would take part in the Iranian auto expo, adding that the US car-manufacturers would also join the event. ‚In case of desirable conditions, General Motors and Ford companies will also attend the event.‘ He continued that some leading car parts makers, including Siemens, FORD Mendo, Busch, FRW and ACI would attend the gathering. The event will start work on December 10.“

AFP: „For Iran — whose currency, the rial, has been severely depressed by rampant inflation — tourism offers a foreign exchange windfall… People are coming back. Official figures show that at the end of March, tourist numbers were up 35 percent year-on-year to 4.5 million, bringing in $6 billion… However, a nuclear deal remains a hope rather than a given and tour operators know optimism can vanish quickly. For the moment, local guides are filling their pockets. ‚This is a new wave. We have between 300 percent and 400 percent more visitors,‘ says Mohsen Hajisaeid, who was looking after a group from Hong Kong.“

Fars (Iran): „Iran’s largest carmaker, Iran Khodro Company (IKCO), has signed a 4-year contract with a German auto designer, the company’s president announced on Sunday, adding that a foreign team has also been hired for designing two new car platforms for the company. ‚We have endorsed a 4-year contract with this designer and he is due to design two new platforms in the next four years,‘ IKCO President Hashem Yekeh Zareh told FNA. ‚Accordingly, it was decided that a 10-member team visit Iran along with the German designer in the next one to two months to plan for designing two new car platforms.‘ Noting that the German designer has been employed by Iran Khodro at least for four years, Yekeh Zareh said that other members of the team are also due to sign a 1 to 4-year contracts with IKCO.“

Sanctions Enforcement & Impact

Reuters: „U.S. authorities are investigating London-based Standard Chartered Plc for potential U.S. sanctions violations connected to its banking for Iranian-controlled entities in Dubai, according to people familiar with the probe. The latest investigation involving the bank is based, in part, from evidence that emerged during a separate probe of BNP Paribas, the French bank that pleaded guilty this summer to charges related to sanctions-busting and agreed to pay $8.9 billion in penalties, the people said. During the course of the BNP case, U.S. federal and state investigators received evidence the French bank had done business with a Dubai-registered corporation that was a front for an Iranian entity, one source said. Investigators also learned that the company used to have an account with Standard Chartered, according to the source. Such an account would have been covered by U.S. sanctions laws that ban dealings with Iran because activity in the account involved U.S. dollar transactions… Standard Chartered in 2012 paid $667 million to U.S. authorities and entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the Manhattan District Attorney and U.S. Department of Justice over violations stemming from Iran and other sanctioned countries.“

Human Rights

NYT: „A senior Iranian emissary hinted on Friday that Iranian authorities might be prepared to free a Washington Post correspondent who has been inexplicably imprisoned and kept virtually incommunicado since July 22. The emissary, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who was attending a United Nations Human Rights Council session, said that security service officials had prepared charges against the correspondent, Jason Rezaian, for activities ‚entering the area of the security of the state.‘ But he added that he hoped the charges would be dropped during court proceedings that he expected to start ’soon.‘ Mr. Larijani, a member of a politically powerful Iranian family and secretary general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, declined to elaborate on the charges. Nor did he further specify the status of Mr. Rezaian’s case in the opaque Iranian judicial process. Mr. Rezaian has not been able to hire a lawyer because no charges have been formally made.“

Press TV (Iran): „The secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights says the propaganda campaign launched by Western media is to blame for the recent execution of a convicted Iranian woman. The Iranian government sought ‚to solicit forgiveness from the [victim’s] first-degree families. Unfortunately, the campaign which was launched by Western media and politicians definitely‘ ruined the atmosphere of soliciting forgiveness, Larijani said in an interview with CNN. He made the remarks on the sidelines of the 20th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland.“

Domestic Politics

RFE/RL: „Promoting virtue and preventing vice proved to be the death of Ali Khalili, a young Iranian seminary student who eventually succumbed to injuries sustained when he tried to stop a group of men from harassing and kidnapping two women. Now lawmakers are debating ways to protect citizens like Khalili who take it upon themselves to defend the values of the Islamic republic. But by giving citizens legal license to take Islamic law into their own hands, critics warn, Tehran could be institutionalizing violent acts such as the recent spate of acid attacks targeting women — apparently because they were deemed to be in violation of Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. The bill winding through the conservative-dominated parliament would strengthen punishments for those who injure or kill people carrying out their Islamic duty to promote virtue and prevent vice, and would give injured vigilantes of Islamic justice the same benefits and legal protections afforded to ‚martyrs and disabled veterans.'“

Foreign Affairs

Bloomberg: „After forcing concessions from Yemen’s government last month, Shiite Muslim rebels ignored pleas to pull out of the capital, flaunting an ascendancy that has alarmed the country’s Gulf Arab neighbors. The Houthi fighters, with scimitars hanging from their waists, now guard key ministries and the central bank in Sana’a. Outside the capital, they have fought their way into Yemen’s second-largest port on the Red Sea and seized a crossing post on the Saudi border. For Saudi Arabia, it’s the perception of an Iranian hand that makes the advance a threat. The Houthis, who follow a branch of Shiite Islam called Zaidi, have pushed aside a government installed three years ago as part of a peace plan backed by the Saudis and their Sunni allies. Yemen, which shares a 1,100-mile border with the world’s biggest oil supplier, threatens to become another arena for the Saudi-Iranian antagonism that underlies many of the region’s crises… In Yemen, Houthi gains will weaken Saudi Arabia’s influence over the impoverished country led by Gulf Cooperation Council-backed President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi. ‚What is happening in Yemen should worry Saudi Arabia,‘ Faris al-Saqqaf, an adviser to President Hadi, said in a phone interview on Oct. 17. ‚Iranian ambition will not stop at Yemen.'“

Opinion & Analysis

Ray Takeyh in WashPost: „As the Nov. 24 deadline for Iran and the great powers to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement approaches, both sides may be confronted with momentous choices. What happens if the decade-long search for an arms-control accord falters? Although there is little evidence that the West is contemplating alternative strategies, important actors in Iran are beginning to consider life after diplomatic failure. Since the exposure of its illicit nuclear program in 2002, the Islamic republic has wrestled with a contradictory mandate: how to expand its nuclear infrastructure while sustaining a measure of economic growth. The reformist president Mohammad Khatami avoided debilitating economic sanctions by suspending nuclear activities. Then came the tumultuous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which privileged nuclear empowerment over economic vitality. Current president Hassan Rouhani has succeeded in negotiating an interim agreement – the Joint Plan of Action – but he faces diminishing prospects for a final accord. Iran has finally come to the crossroads, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and many hard-line elements seem ready to forge ahead with their nuclear ambitions even if they collide with economic imperatives. During the past few years, Khamenei has been pressing his concept of a resistance economy whereby Iran would shed its need for foreign contracts and commerce. ‚Instead of reliance on the oil revenues, Iran should be managed through reliance on its internal forces and the resources on the ground,‘ he said last month. Writing in the conservative daily Khorasan last year, commentator Mehdi Hasanzadeh went further: ‚An economy that relies on domestic [production] rather than preliminary agreement or the lifting of a small part of sanctions or even all sanctions will bring a great economic victory.‘ In the impractical universe of conservatives, Iran can meet the basic needs of its people by developing local industries. Iran’s reactionaries seem to prefer national poverty to nuclear disarmament. The notions of self-sufficiency and self-reliance have long been hallmarks of conservative thinking in Iran. Since the 1980s, a central tenet of the hard-liners‘ foreign policy perspective has been that Iran’s revolution is a remarkable historical achievement that the United States can’t accept or accommodate. Western powers will always conspire against an Islamic state that they cannot control, this thinking goes, and the only way Iran can secure its independence and achieve its national objectives is to lessen its reliance on its principal export commodity. Hard-liners believe that isolation from the international community can best preserve Iran’s ideological identity. This siege mentality drives Iran’s quest for nuclear arms and their deterrent power.“

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