“We seek a win-win game and this is possible… We are prepared to enter serious and meaningful negotiations with determination and without wasting time, and if our opposing party is equally ready, I am confident that the concerns of both sides will be allayed through dialogue.”
Archiv der Kategorie: Gesetze
Die dauerhafte Unterbringung von Flüchtlingen in Lagern schafft Probleme – das zeigen nicht zuletzt die Misshandlungsfälle in Nordrhein-Westfalen. In Chemnitz geht man andere Wege: Flüchtlinge haben eigene Wohnungen – und jetzt auch Paten.
Chemnitz. Zu duftendem Tee und Kuchen reicht Rahimeh eine Schachtel Datteln über den Wohnzimmertisch. Im Wörterbuch schlägt die 37-jährige Iranerin das deutsche Wort für die Frucht nach, die ihr als Khorma bekannt ist. Mit Gesten warnt sie den Gast, nicht zu fest zuzubeißen, wegen des Kerns. Schokolade gebe es im Iran auch, klärt Rahimehs ältester Sohn Peyman auf: „Ist aber nicht gesund.“ Zum Naschen seien Datteln besser, findet der 20-Jährige. Von seiner fünfköpfigen Familie, die im Dezember nach Chemnitz kam, ist Peyman mit seinen Deutschkenntnissen am weitesten fortgeschritten. „Das Beste an Chemnitz ist Runa. Ich weiß nicht, was wir ohne sie gemacht hätten“, sagt er.
Runa Richter sitzt auf dem Sofa und winkt ab. Sie habe nur getan, was ihre Aufgabe sei. Für den 2008 gegründeten Verein „Save me“ vermittelt die 28-jährige Germanistik-Studentin in Chemnitz Patenschaften an Flüchtlingsfamilien. „Inzwischen gibt es das in 58 Städten“ sagt sie. In Chemnitz begann das Projekt im September 2013. Bisher haben 25ausländische Familien ortskundige Paten. Ursprünglich bezog sich das Projekt allein auf die von den Vereinten Nationen zugewiesenen Resettlement-Flüchtlinge (siehe nebenstehender Beitrag). Da sich aber in Chemnitz schon weit über 70 Personen, vom Studenten bis zum Rentner, als Paten gemeldet haben, weitete man das Projekt jetzt auf Asylbewerberfamilien aus.
Für ihre iranische Familie ist Runa Richter erstmals selbst Patin. Sie erinnert sich an den Tag im Dezember, als sie sich im Chemnitzer Wohnheim zum ersten Mal begegneten: Vater Teimoor (47), Mutter Rahimeh, deren Söhne Peyman und Kamran und die sechsjährige Tochter Pegah. Da scheiterte die Kommunikation schon an der Übersetzung einfachster, fürs Leben in einer fremden Stadt aber elementarer Fragen: Wo ist ein Supermarkt? Sie ging mit „ihrer“ Familie zum Flüchtlingsrat, wo Runa Richter nebenbei jobbt. „Ich wusste, mein Chef dort spricht persisch“, sagt sie. In den ersten Wochen bedurfte es stets eines Übersetzers. „Da haben die Vermittler vom Verein In- und Ausländer sehr geholfen“, sagt sie. Inzwischen besuchen alle Familienmitglieder täglich den Sprachunterricht der Integrationskurse an der Volkshochschule.
Sie wollte eigentlich nur das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien sehen – jetzt wird einer Iranerin dafür der Prozess gemacht, nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft.
von EVI SIMEONI
Dieser Dienstag ist ein wichtiger Tag. Ganz besonders für Ghoncheh Ghavami, eine 25 Jahre alte Studentin, die seit Juni in Teheran im furchterregenden Evin-Gefängnis sitzt. Nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft, nach 41 Tagen in Einzelhaft, nach Verhören, Besuchsverbot und Hungerstreik, wird ihr jetzt der Prozess gemacht. Ihr Vergehen: Zusammen mit anderen Frauen hat sie am 20. Juni vor dem Azadi Stadion gefordert, das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien ansehen zu dürfen. Doch der Blick auf Männer in Sportkleidung ist Frauen im Iran nicht erlaubt. Vorgeworfen wird ihr „Propaganda gegen das Regime“.
Ghoncheh Ghavami war erst ein paar Monate im Land, als sie verhaftet wurde. Sie ist in London geboren und ist britische und iranische Staatsbürgerin. Eigentlich war sie nach Teheran gekommen, um Kinder das Lesen zu lehren. Jetzt bringt ihr der Iran die Flötentöne bei.
“Time is passing rapidly and we are still not unhopeful to reach a conclusion by Nov. 24,” Aragchi told reporters at a meeting with the judiciary officials in Mashhad.
On the upcoming talks in Vienna, Araghchi said, “If the results of this next round of talks are not good enough, we certainly will not reach a final deal by Nov. 24.”
Araghchi said that the Oct. 14 meeting will be bilateral talks with the United States and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. The Oct. 15 meeting will be trilateral talks betweenAshton, Iran’s lead negotiator and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman are also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings.
“These negotiations will be about the topics of sanctions and how to lift them and enrichment,” Araghchi said, adding that he hopes “we can open a new path.”
In a transcript provided by Fars News Agency, Aragchi said, “Everything is possible, even extending the negotiations.” He did not elaborate on what an extension might look like.
Iran and the P5+1 initially reached an interim deal in November 2013. Iran suspended some nuclear activity in exchange for the temporary lifting of some sanctions and the unblocking of some funds. In July 2014, the negotiators agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 24.
On the last negotiations that took place on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly, Araghchi said, “In New York, there were expectations that progress would take place, but that did not happen.” Western negotiators also said that “limited progress” had been made in those talks.
According to the spokesman of the parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Seyed Hossein Naghvi-Hosseini, Zarif’s report to the committee about the New York negotiations did not appear optimistic. According to Naghi-Hosseini, Zarif told the committee that lobbies in the United States affiliated with Israel did not want any type of deal made with Iran and for this reason, the United States was not looking to reach an agreement, and that Iran needed to prove to others that they tried to reach a deal. The comments of this committee, which has taken a hard line against the nuclear talks and previously leaked a number of details about the nuclear talks, did not receive wide media coverage inside Iran.
President Hassan Rouhani’s own adviser, Ali Younessi, contradicted Naghvi-Hosseini and said that the United States, of all the P5+1 countries, was the most inclined toward reaching a final deal with Iran, but that China and Russia did not want to see a deal happen. However, he added that he was not optimistic about reaching a final deal.
The administration has increased its efforts to inform and educate people to willingly become donors, which is why the donor card system was created. A section that has also been added to driver’s licenses in Iran that indicates the license holder’s decision to donate his/her organs.
“Starting on Sept. 21, 2014, no more organ transplant operations will be performed on non-Iranians,” Iranian officials announced in September.
The major reason this decision was made, according to the Ministry of Health, was that the number of foreign citizens who have undergone organ transplant surgery in Iran — 608 legally documented over the past 10 years — was already high, considering the number of Iranian patients in critical condition.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Dr. Nader S., a nephrologist and experienced transplant specialist in Shiraz, said, “In the private hospital where I am a major share-holder, we had a few cases of foreigners who would travel to Iran and buy a kidney from healthy, broke folks through middlemen and kidney dealers, and then would undergo transplant surgery in our hospital, which is a big, modern, well-equipped hospital, also quite costly; but the latter was obviously no big deal for these people.”
Another recent development has been banning private hospitals from performing transplant surgeries (starting last month), and limiting these procedures to public and teaching hospitals.
The reasons stated for the decision to limit organ transplant surgeries to public and teaching hospitals is to stop what Iran’s health officials refer to as numerous counts of misconduct and abuse of the system, as well as the need for better regulation of transplant procedures and finally, access to better, updated and high-tech equipment in public and teaching hospitals.
A controversial aspect of the topic of transplant is the religious aspect. While there have been differences of opinion among Iranian Shiite clerics about this matter in the past, the organ transplant bill (regarding transplanting organs from the bodies of brain-dead patients) that passed in Iran’s Majles (parliament) in 2000, further paved the way for the procedure. There are still mixed views concerning the details, but Iranian clerics generally accept the procedure. The matters in which nuances become apparent are transplanting the organ(s) of a male to a female or vice-versa, and transplanting organs of a non-Muslim to a Muslim, or vice-versa.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mohsen Kadivar, a philosopher and Iranian dissident cleric, expressed his opinion on the matter: “Iranian clerics are quite advanced in this regard. Wahhabis, on the other hand, could be quite harsh on rejecting the idea of transplanting organs. Although I have not studied their view on it in particular, one of the reasons that citizens of Saudi Arabia would have been inclined to travel to Iran for such procedures, other than Iran’s advanced medicine, may have been the difficulties they face in their own country, created by their clerics. I would say Orthodox Christians, too, are less open to what may be interpreted by some clerics as disrupting the acts of God. Personally, although I’d carefully consider the matter on a case-by-case basis, I’d generally say I am welcoming of saving a person’s life if there is a team of physicians pronouncing another person brain-dead. That is, if it is certain he is in a vegetative state, and if his next-of-kin allow the transplant.”
The Iranian government has made considerable efforts as of late, through ceremonies with celebrities in attendance (such as the annual “Nafas [Breath] Feast,“ celebrating its 11th year in 2014), and public announcements to attract the population’s attention to the benefits of organ donation. Official statistics reveal that currently, 1,400,000 Iranians are registered donors.
Another task Iranian health authorities are attempting to accomplish is persuading families to allow hospitals to proceed with the donation process. Despite being a registered donor, the next-of-kin’spermission is still required for the donation process to get started.
Zahra, 28, a homemaker in Kerman, told Al-Monitor, “I was on top of the waiting list for a heart transplant, in critical condition, and getting eerily closer to death almost by the hour. I later found out that although my donor was registered, at first his family would not allow the organs to be transplanted and the hospital had had a very tough time convincing them, especially his mother.”
Iran’s health authorities estimate the average time needed for donor organs to be extracted from the donor’s body to be 36 hours. Some conservative or traditional Iranian Muslims have mentioned that one of the reasons for their reluctance to allow the process is the necessary wait between death and the release of the body, which delays the burial of their loved one. Examining this reluctance in his interview with Al-Monitor, Kadivar said, “I don’t think of it as an obstacle. Fast burial is recommended in Islam because, at the time of this recommendation, morgues did not exist. Nowadays they do. Plus, the length of time many families spend on preparations or awaiting the arrival of other family members or relatives probably surpasses 36 hours, anyway. “
While progress has recently been made in the organ transplant domain in Iran, there still are, according to Iran’s Ministry of Health, numerous problems and shortcomings within the organ donation system in the country. The organs of an average of 2,500 brain-dead people out of 5,000 should be, under normal circumstances, transplanted. This number is only 665 in Iran: the low number being due to multiple issues, the most significant ones being shortage of equipment and surgeons in small towns, delay in obtaining permission from the families of the donors and miscommunication or lack of communication between relevant and responsible medical units. These issues beg serious attention, and gravely diminish the chances of patients in need of organ transplants of receiving them from donors.
Military service has been a point of conflict between the youth and the establishment over the past three decades, ever since the 1979 revolution. All Iranian males are required to report for military service at age 18. However, college students can receive a temporary educational exemption, while others can seek exemption for medical reasons or if they need to care for elderly parents.
According to statistics, each year about 2 million students graduate from universities in Iran. Unless they have obtained a temporary or permanent exemption, they are required to report to a military service center within a year after graduation. Failure to do so results in an additional three to six months of service.
Leaving an academic environment for a military garrison is a point of stress and anxiety for many young students. “I seriously thought I was going to go mad when I heard that they have added three more months to the compulsory service,” said Adel, a graduate student of electronics at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology. “If I am supposed to end up in a military garrison, then I should have gone for it after I finished high school when I was 18. The service time was shorter back then. It’s going to be two years of my life!”
In 2009, the army shortened military service to 18 months. Service time was further shortened for men with bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees to one to three months. In 2012, however, military service was set at 21 months for all citizens. Now, from 2015, it will increase to 24 months.
Mehdi Karroubi, a candidate in the 2009 presidential elections and a Green Movement leader, said that reforming the military service law would be a priority if he were to be elected. According to his proposed plan, military service would be made into a profession in Iran. Those who abstain from service would be required to pay a fee and take part in a 60-day training program.
In 1999, the Iranian parliament passed a proposal allowing Iranian men to pay a fee to exempt themselves from military service. The amount, depending on the applicant’s education level, ranged from 1.3 to 2.5 million tomans ($1,600 to $3,100). The conservative faction criticized this proposal, calling it discriminatory against the less affluent. By the end of the year, the proposal was completely dismissed.
After the West imposed sanctions on Iran, the country’s income level, which mostly comes from the oil industry, radically decreased. As a result, the army’s allocated budget has subsequently decreased over the past three years — a reality that has affected soldiers’ salaries and living conditions in the garrisons.
In April, Brig. Gen. Hamid Sadr Sadat, the head of the Military Service Organization, announced, “The proposal that was confirmed by the parliament regarding the increase in the salaries of soldiers is still within the agenda of the organization.”
Yet, last October, Tehran member of parliament and former Sepah commander Esmaeil Kowsari told Tasnim News that there was no budget allocated for this issue.
According to officials in the Military Service Organization, soldiers’ salaries range from 100,000 to 110,000 tomans per month ($30 to $35). Aside from this, soldiers do not have suitable living standards.
Alireza completed his military service after receiving his doctorate in pharmaceuticals. He talked to Al-Monitor about his two-month training program in a military garrison in Tehran, saying that the soldiers faced malnutrition. “Vegetables, fruit, dairy products and other sources of calcium and vitamins were nonexistent. The quality of food was disastrous, but this was not the only problem. The other problem was the quantity of rice and meat. For example, they would put only 20 grams of meat in a stew. Everyone was constantly hungry.”
In February 2014, Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, head of the Law Enforcement Forces, confirmed thatsoldiers faced malnutrition, saying, “Our low budget is preventing us from distributing protein-rich and vitamin-rich foods among the soldiers.”
A member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (Mosharekat) told Al-Monitor, on the condition of anonymity, “This compulsory service is partly about expanding the policy of force and control. It is similar to the mandatory hijab. The establishment wants to keep its authority over the country’s youth. When highly educated young men spend a lot of time in the military garrisons, their mental and physical health declines. It is hard to understand why a government would do this to its own human and social capital.”
He added, “What I don’t understand, however, is why they are increasing the duration of the compulsory service given our current situation and the economic crisis. When we don’t have a [sufficient] budget for the armed forces, why are we adding three more months to the compulsory military service?”
Some believe the service-extension decision was made in relation to the Iranian government’s recent policy of encouraging parents to have more children.
During Brig. Gen. Kamali’s Sept. 30 announcement regarding the new law, he said, “Married soldiers will have their service time shortened by three months. Also, for each child, another three months is subtracted. In other words, if a soldier is married and has one child, his service time will be shortened by six months.”
A military official working in the Military Service Organization in Tehran told Al-Monitor, “We couldn’t really figure out why they added three more months to the compulsory service, unless it really is about encouraging young people to have children.”
The official believes it could also be related to the rise in unemployment and the current economic decline. “Well, this way, each of these young men have to spend three more months in the garrison, which is better than staying home and being unemployed.”
Universal Periodic Review: JFI will address the medicalisation of sexual orientation and gender identity at UPR Pre-session
| Justice for Iran (JFI) highlights urgent concerns in submission to the 20th session of UPR Working Group on Islamic Republic of Iran.
On 8 October, just days ahead of Iran’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), JFI will make one of six presentations selected to inform UN delegates from around the world about the situation of human rights in Iran. During a Pre-Session event organized by UPR Info, the foremost NGO focused on this process, Shadi Amin, the co-founder of JFI and coordinator of Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang) will deliver a statement based on JFI’s UPR submission. Amin will focus on the plight of LGBT citizens in Iran and, in particlar, her statement will address the issue of medicalisation of sexual orientation and gender identity. JFI will also invite states to make specific recommendations on sexual orientation and gender identity, including:
Pending full decriminalisation of same-sex sexual relations remove the death penalty and flogging for offences relating to consensual same-sex relations between adults;
- Protect gender non-conforming people from harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and other ill-treatment, whether by state or non-state actors;
- Adopt a comprehensive legislation to streamline legal sex change procedures and protect the right to health of transsexuals, without imposing sterilisation and genital reassignment surgeries as a prerequisite for gender legal recognition;
- Outlaw reparative therapies including electric shock therapies and psychoactive medications aimed at converting people’s sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and hold accountable surgeons who administer substandard or negligent sex reassignment surgeries without informed consent or in reckless disregard of international standards of care for transsexual people;
- Respect the right to receive and impart health information including on sexual and reproductive matters;
- Stop hate speech against people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.
In addition, JFI’s recommendations on a variety of issues involving women’s rights, such as early marriage, right to bodily cover, reproductive rights and sexual torture will be made available to delegations attending the UPR pre-session.
Over the months of September and October, JFI experts have met with close to forty representatives of various member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and based on victim testimonies, documents, survivor interviews and documents shared details of human rights violations in Iran. As its first priority, JFI briefs member states about the fact that a mere 3 recommendations put forward to Iran during the first UPR in February 2010 were focused on LGBT rights. To remedy this deficit, JFI is pointing out the root-cause of this series of violations by highlighting at the UN level Iran’s policies to wrongfully medicalise sexual orientation and gender identity. To better raise awareness at the international level JFI advocacy contextualizes the violation of sexual rights of LGBT within the framework of gender-based policies of the Islamic Republic that treat women or femininity as inferior.
With regards to its next priority, that of women’s rights, JFI briefs member states that regardless of Iran’s decision to accept a number of recommendations focused on women’s rights during the first UPR, it has failed to deliver any measure of improvement. In particular, JFI emphasised that the rights of women and girls in Iran require far more discussion and action at the international level.
The presentations and presenters will inform participating States as they prepare their recommendations for Iran’s UPR review. JFI will maintain its active participation as a leading voice in the 2014 Iran UPR. More information on this significant process will be reflected in JFI’s work during the coming weeks.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new phenomenon in the world of human rights. It refers to a four-year cycle of cooperative review of the human rights records of all UN member states. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, it is lead by nations, meaning each state has the right to declare what actions they have taken to improve their human rights record in order to better align their national policies and praxis with their human rights obligations, and to address human right violations.
Iran’s first UPR took place in February 2010. A total of 53 delegations made 189 recommendations to Iran, 123 of which were accepted, while according to the Islamic Republic 21 were already implemented or in the process of implementation, and an additional 20 were under review, but 45 important recommendations were entirely rejected.
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The presidency of Hassan Rouhani is being carefully analyzed for signs that the Iranian regime is changing its dangerous and threatening behavior. Optimism in some circles has been encouraged by a change in rhetoric and tone from Rouhani and other senior regime figures. However, while the new Iranian President speaks the language of conciliation, as it stands, the regime’s nuclear program and odious behavior continue.
UANI released a comprehensive report on Rouhani’s first 100 days in office, analyzing whether Rouhani had brought demonstrable change in three key areas: Iran’s nuclear program, human rights and role in Syria. Unfortunately, UANI found that President Rouhani’s record during his first 100 days in office failed to match his promising rhetoric. UANI developed the 100 Days concept in conjunction with Congressmen Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively. They publicized the concept in a September 25 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, „U.S. needs action, not words, from Iran.“
As Rouhani’s presidency progresses, UANI will continue to carefully scrutinize his record in office to see if his rhetoric matches his actions. The „Rouhani Accountability Tracker“ reviews the day-to-day actions of the Iranian regime.
“So basically I’m very sensitive about the question of citizenship rights, of the rights of minorities, the rights of the ethnic groups. I am glad that when every prisoner leaves the jail – the prison, I rejoice in that… So I will spare no effort to ensure that those who are currently in prison will see an opening door.”
|Political prisoners jailed in Iran||895+|
|Political prisoners freed in Iran
*Many of those released completed or were near completion of their prison terms. The government has failed to follow through on its September 2013 announcement to release more than 80 prisoners of conscience.
|U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran||4|
|Cooperate with Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and allow him immediate entry into the country.||
|End Internet censorship and permit access to blocked social media websites like Facebook and Twitter that regime officials themselves use.|
|End the morality police’s harassment of Iranian citizens and routine violations of Iranians‘ human rights.|
|End discrimination and harassment against persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, particularly the Baha’i.|
|Decriminalize consensual same-sex activity between adults.|
“We should stop the civil war. We should pave the ground for negotiations between the opposition and the government… We should pave the way and prepare the ground for elections and ballot boxes so that Syrians voice their opinions and then we should all respect the results.”
|Does Iran continue to provide the ruthless Syrian regime, which has used chemical weapons against its own people, with extensive military and economic support in order to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power?|
On November 24, 2013 the P5+1 and Iran signed the „Joint Plan of Action“ (JPA), an accord to freeze progress on certain elements of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Following nearly two months of additional negotiations, on January 12, 2014 the parties announced that the agreement would commence on January 20, 2014 and conclude on July 20, 2014. The interim agreement is intended to build confidence between the P5+1 and Iran and provide time for additional negotiations that will ultimately lead to a final comprehensive agreement – within „no more than one year“ – that resolves all outstanding concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. As the July 20 deadline approached, the P5+1 and Iran agreed on July 18 to extend the JPA by four months to November 24, 2014, exactly one year after the two parties signed the JPA. UANI is methodically tracking how the provisions of the agreement and obligations of the parties are being implemented and interpreted by each side. As part of this effort, UANI is tracking how the agreement is affecting Iranian business activity and trade as measured by a number of key economic indicators, as well as its impact on the international sanctions regime.
Payments to Iran Under the JPA
Nuclear Breakout Timeline
How Quickly Could Iran Make the Bomb?
Prior to the interim agreement, Iran’s estimated ‘breakout’ time to build a nuclear weapon was approximately 1.5 months. After the JPA was struck in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry touted, “We now have a mechanism by which we are going to expand the amount of time in which [the Iranians] can break out [to obtain nuclear capability] rather than narrow it.” In reality, the accord does little to push back Iran’s breakout time, with Kerry himself stating in a Senate hearing that Iran’s breakout had been pushed back “to about two months.” That only represents about a two week extension of Iran’s breakout capability prior to Geneva. Based on the $4.2 billion in frozen assets the P5+1 is releasing to Iran as part of the interim deal,the regime is effectively being awarded $300 million for each day it extends its nuclear breakout.
Iran’s Continued Nuclear Progress
President Obama has hailed the interim nuclear agreement as marking “the first time in a decade that the Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to specific actions that halt progress on its nuclear program and roll back key parts of the program.” He later remarked, “Beginning January 20th, Iran will for the first time start… dismantling some of the infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible…” Iranian officials, however, have rejected the President’s assertions. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said, “I can say definitively that the structure of our nuclear program will be exactly preserved. Nothing will be put aside, dismantled or halted.”
In reality there are a number of ways in which the Iranian regime will continue to develop its nuclear program during the interim agreement, as outlined below.
Arak Heavy Water Reactor
|Iran continues to perform excavation and civil construction work at this facility, which is considered a prime proliferation threat.|
Research & Development
|Iran continues to perform ongoing R&D activities that preceded the agreement.|
Development of Advanced Centrifuges
|As part of its ongoing R&D, Iran continues “experimenting with a range of test centrifuges at the Natanz pilot scale facility, including the IR-1, IR-2m, IR-4, and the IR-6.” The advanced centrifuges are multiple times faster than Iran’s first-generation models, and if put into operation, would reduce Iran’s breakout time to only a matter of weeks, if not days.|
Long-Range Ballistic Missile Testing
|Iran’s long-range ballistic missile testing continues, which is a central component of any viable nuclear weapons program as the delivery mechanism of a warhead. December 13, 2013 was the “the latest demonstration of the country’s missile capabilities,” when Iran performed a space launch vehicle test.|
Expansion of LEU Stockpile
|Iran stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) is continuing to expand since the since the nuclear conversion facility needed to convert the LEU into oxide powder is not yet in operation.|
Final Agreement: A Deep Divide
The purported goal of the interim agreement is to pave the way for a final agreement that resolves all outstanding concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Thus far, the two sides have articulated deeply conflicting visions of such an accord that appear near-impossible to reconcile. The Iranian regime has already laid out maximalist positions that question whether the regime is prepared to negotiate in good faith and ultimately roll back elements of its nuclear program.
|President Obama: “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.”||
Arak Heavy Water Reactor
|Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi: “Your actions and words show you don’t want us to have the Arak heavy water reactor which means you want to deprive us of our rights. But you should know that it is a red line which we will never cross… We want to have more heavy water reactors in future.”|
|President Obama: “Now, in terms of specifics, we know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo[w] in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.”||
Fordow Fortified Underground Enrichment Facility
|President Rouhani: It is “100 percent” a “red line” for Iran to dismantle any nuclear facilities.|
|President Obama: “They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”||
|Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi: “All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”|
|President Obama: “And so the question ultimately is going to be, are they prepared to roll back some of the advancements that they’ve made that would not justify — or could not be justified by simply wanting some modest, peaceful nuclear power, but, frankly, hint at a desire to have breakout capacity and go right to the edge of breakout capacity.”||
Limitation on the Size of Iran’s Enrichment Program
|Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi: “We will in no way, never, dismantle our [nuclear] centrifuges.”
|White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “They have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program that are included in the United Nations Security Council resolution that is part of explicitly, according to the Joint Plan of Action, the comprehensive resolution negotiation.”||
Ballistic Missile Testing
|Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi: “Defense matters [i.e. Iran’s ballistic missile program] are non-negotiable and are one of our red lines.”|
The views on sanctions relief between the U.S. and the Iranian government are also highly incongruous. The White House has described the sanctions relief provided in the agreement as “economically insignificant” and insisted that “Iran’s economy will also continue to suffer because the core architecture of U.S. sanctions—especially our potent oil, financial and banking sanctions—remains firmly in place.” David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department official tasked with enforcing the U.S. sanctions program declared, “I am confident that the sanctions pressure on Iran will continue to mount. Iran will be even deeper in the hole six months from now, when the deal expires.” In comparison, leading Iranian officials have boasted that with this agreement, the structure of the international sanctions regime is falling apart and that the Iranian economy is progressively improving. Following the January 12 agreement on the implementation of the accord, Rouhani pronounced, “The Geneva agreement means the wall of sanctions has broken.”
In terms of total estimated value of the sanctions relief provided in the agreement, the White House estimates that Iran stands to receive $6 billion to $7 billion. Iran analysts, however, have anticipated that the true value of the sanctions relief could be more than $20 billion.
Furthermore, the momentum of an ever strengthening international sanctions regime was halted following Rouhani’s election in June 2013 in an apparent effort by the U.S. to court the regime and set a tone for renewed negotiations. The effect of this halt, and even reversal, in momentum was significant as measured by the appreciation of the rial and growth in the Tehran Stock Exchange since June 2013.
While the administration vows that the core architecture of Iran sanctions remains in place, UANI analysis shows that the four interdependent elements of the sanctions regime—(1) Increasingly strict laws and regulations, (2) enforcement action, (3) reputational risk, and; (4) the psychological impact on the Iranian economy—have weakened, and as a result, the architecture of the sanctions regime may in fact be unraveling.
In this section, UANI tracks key indicators of the Iranian economy, to gauge the true value of the sanctions relief being provided.
Value of The Rial
The effect of economic pressure can be measured in large part by tracking the Iranian rial’s black market value exchange rate. When economic pressure was at its peak, Iran suffered from severe hyperinflation, and the rial became the least valued currency in the world. This is no longer the case, as the rial has regained significant value.
Since Hassan Rouhani was elected president on June 14, the Iranian rial has appreciated approximately 15%, from 36,500 rials/dollar to about 31,000 rials/dollar today (and up from record-lows of 40,000 rials/dollar in February 2013). Political developments have clearly had an impact on the rial’s value.
According to the IMF, „inflation has dropped rapidly“ since Rouhani’s election, „from about 45 percent in July 2013 to below 30 percent in December 2013.. Inflation could end at 20-25 percent by end-2013/14.“
When the Geneva agreement was signed on November 24, a senior administration official stated that “Iran’s oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day” (bpd). This has not been the case, since Iran has surpassed the one million barrel limit in every month since the signing of the accord. As a result, Iran has earned approximately $6.76 billion in additional sanctions relief via these above-limit oil exports up to and including June 2014.
It is clear that the Geneva negotiations and the signing of the interim agreement significantly altered a trend of ever increasing reductions in oil purchasers from Iran, mainly by signaling an easing of restrictions and reducing risks for purchasers and traders.
Tehran Stock Exchange
Since Rouhani’s election, the Tehran Stock Exchange index has increased by more than 50%, from about 45,000 points to over 70,000 points.
As a result of the significant sanctions relief and the halt in sanctions momentum, Iran’s economic fortunes have turned. The Iranian economy is expected to enjoy GDP growth of 1.5% for 2014/2015, following an estimated contraction of 1.7% in 2013/2014 and a contraction of 5.8% in 2012/2013.
Since the signing of the Geneva agreement on November 24, Iran has been receiving trade delegations from countries that are eager to rekindle commerce with Iran. The pace of these missions and delegations has only increased since the agreement commenced on January 20. According to The New York Times, “In the first two weeks of the year, Iran welcomed more delegations from Europe than in all of 2013.” Prominent trade delegations with corporate executives have visited from Austria, France, Italy, and many other countries.
Since the signing of the Geneva agreement, there have been numerous reports and firsthand accounts of Iran’s automotive and energy sectors anticipating the return of major multinational corporations. With the momentum of sanctions halted and now reversed, reputational and financial risk has clearly declined for multinational corporations that are publicly pursuing the renewal or expansion of their Iran business.
Iran Business Renewed/Expanded
Engaged in Discussions/Preparations to Expand/Renew Iran Business
Expressed Interest in Expanding/Renewing Iran Business
OMV AG (Energy)
Austrian Airlines (Airline)
Plasser & Theurer (Transportation Infrastructure)
AVL (Automotive, Engineering)
Doka (Engineering, Construction)
Tessenderlo Group (Chemical)
Zhuhai Zhenrong (Energy)
Societe Generale (Banking)
BNP Paribas (Banking)
Total SA (Energy)
Alstom (Transportation Infrastructure, Energy)
Credit Agricole (Banking)
Sanofi S.A. (Pharmaceuticals)
GDF Suez SA (Energy)
Veolia Environnement SA (Energy)
Safran SA (Aerospace, Aviation, Conglomerate, Defense)
Lafarge (Construction, Manufacturing)
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) (Energy)
Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) (Energy)
Aban Offshore Limited (Drilling, Energy)
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Shipping)
PT Kreasindo Resources (Energy)
Japan P&I Club (Financial Services, Shipping)
Royal Dutch Shell plc (Energy)
Sanctions Designations Timer:
Days PassedSince Last Treasury Sanctions Designation Action
2013-2014 Iran SDN Sanctions Designations
SDN Designation Announcements
—–ROUHANI ELECTED ON JUNE 14—–
|TOTAL Before Rouhani’s Election||183|
|TOTAL After Rouhani’s Election||95|
|TOTAL Designations Since Nov. 24 Geneva Agreement||85|
The Obama administration has pledged to fully enforce all existing sanctions against Iran. David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s point man on sanctions vowed, “The Joint Plan of Action reached in Geneva does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran’s nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions.”
Evidence indicates, however, that since Rouhani’s election, the U.S. has been much less aggressive in enforcing sanctions. In 2013 before Rouhani’s June 14 election, Treasury issued 10 sanctions announcements which designated 183 entities for violating Iran sanctions. Since Rouhani’s election, there have only been five announcements, blacklisting a total of 61 entities.
Source: American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran
Since Rouhani took office, the human rights situation has not improved as some had hoped, but has actually worsened in a number of critical ways. For example, the pace of executions has increased to more than two a day in what can only be described as an „execution binge.“
Rouhani has also not fulfilled his promise to ease Internet restrictions, with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube remaining blocked for Iranian citizens. In May, six young men and women were arrested and detained in Tehran for posting a tribute video to Pharrell Williams‘ hit song, „Happy,“ on YouTube.
When Mohammad Farivar, a gastroenterologist who teaches at Boston University and Harvard Medical School, tried to send slightly more than $100,000 to Iran this summer from his charity’s long-standing account at what is now Santander Bank, he found it not only impossible to complete the transaction, but was also notified shortly thereafter that his account would be summarily closed. The doctor shared his correspondence with the bank, and his frustrations, with Al-Monitor.
Farivar said he had collected the funds from Iranian-Americans in the Boston area on behalf of the Earthquake Relief Fund for Orphans, a charity he founded more than two decades ago, to build an addition to an orphanage in the Iranian city of Kashan. He deposited the money in the organization’s account at Santander, which took over Sovereign Bank, where the charity opened an account in 1990.
Farivar’s nonprofit has aided earthquake victims in other countries, including Pakistan, and it sent money to Iran following the 2004 earthquake in Bam. Farivar said he decided to go forward with the Kashan project because a year ago, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which deals with sanctions, gave blanket approval for such activities.
A Treasury official confirmed to Al-Monitor that on Sept. 10, 2013, the department issued a general license permitting US nongovernmental groups “to provide certain humanitarian and not-for-profit services to Iran that directly benefit the Iranian people.” The license authorizes funds transfers in support of such activities of up to half a million dollars a year.
Iranian-Americans are also authorized to send personal remittances to family and friends in Iran. The official said, “So long as the funds originating from a US financial institution are routed through a third country, the ultimate destination could be either a non-designated [not sanctioned] Iranian bank or money service provider.” The official added that this mechanism predates the interim nuclear deal signed with Iran last November.
When Farivar tried to wire the money from the charity’s account to an individual at an HSBC bank in Hong Kong for transfer to Iran, Santander closed the account. Farivar complained to Roman Blanco, president of Santander’s operations in the United States. Blanco did not respond, but JoAnn Gruber, a vice president of the Spain-based bank who manages customer relations with Americans, replied in a Sept. 26 letter that Farivar shared with Al-Monitor.
Gruber wrote, “Any decision to close an account is our decision and no information regarding such a decision is communicated, released or provided to any individual or entity outside of the bank.” According to Farivar, “They closed a legitimate account because I tried to send money to a person in China” to then transfer to Iran following OFAC guidance. Blanco did not respond to an email inquiry from Al-Monitor.
Farivar said he found the Chinese individual through a money-exchange house in Iran and that the procedure — encouraged by OFAC because the United States bars direct transactions between American and Iranian banks — is prone to abuse. “It’s money laundering 101,” Farivar said.
Iranian-Americans have long complained that US sanctions force them to use murky channels to send and receive money from Iran. Hopes that the nuclear negotiations would make it easier to conduct such transactions have not been realized, even as Iran has gained access to several billion dollars in oil revenues that had been frozen in foreign accounts.
The new channels are intended for trade with entities that the government of Iran has approved but apparently not for ordinary individuals. What’s more, the US Treasury will not identify the channels, although they are reported to include banks in Japan and Switzerland. “These channels are for the big money,” Farivar told Al-Monitor. “Nobody is going to worry about my $100,000.”
Many Western banks continue to refuse to do any business involving Iran because of heavy fines imposed by US authorities against several that violated the sanctions. Farhad Alavi, a lawyer who advises Iranian-Americans as well as multinational corporations on trade issues, said US sanctions effectively force many individuals and entities dealing with Iran to use methods akin to hawalas, whereby money is given to a broker in one country and paid out by a broker in another country. Fees are high and abuse is common, he said.
“It inherently makes transactions look more suspect in many ways, whether you are selling medical devices or just receiving remittances,” Alavi stated. “To a bank, an authorized payment for food sales or a remittance might come from a trading company in Hong Kong or Kuwait. A lot of things can happen that are not traceable.”
Alavi added that US banks fear violating a combination of regulations, beginning with the Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. “This, coupled with the rise in the use of economic sanctions regulations as an instrument yields what we have today,” he said.
Iranian-Americans had hoped the situation would improve following the conclusion last year of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1). Under the accord, which was extended in July until the end of November, the P5+1 promised to “establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using Iranian oil revenues held abroad.” The channel is also supposed to help Iranian students in the United States pay their expenses.
In Washington at a Sept. 28 conference of the National Iranian-American Council, Erich Ferrari, another lawyer specializing in sanctions, said that it had taken until May to establish the channel. He said Treasury officials tell American companies seeking to sell goods to Iran to “ask your importers in Iran” how to get paid, rather than telling Americans what foreign banks to approach.
US officials have hinted that it might be possible under a comprehensive nuclear agreement to re-establish correspondent accounts between US banks nd Iranian banks that have not been designated for support of terrorism or other illicit activities. This would likely restore Iran to the global electronic banking transfer system known as SWIFT. The prospects for such an accord are, however, uncertain.
“OFAC and the Treasury have gone to great pains to say that humanitarian transactions are authorized,” Alavi told Al-Monitor. “OFAC needs to come up with a viable route.”
The Treasury official told Al-Monitor, “Americans who are experiencing problems or misunderstandings on how to transfer personal remittances to Iran under the regulations can call the OFAC helpline at 202-622-2580 or email OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov. ”
As for Farivar, he said he’s been waiting to get back the $121,860.78 that was in the Santander account so he can return the contributions to those who thought they would be helping to build an orphanage in Iran.