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April 2, 2014

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

The purpose of propagating ‘Iron Dome’ is to intimidate opponents and it does not express realities*
(Fars News Agency – April 1, 2014)

Ismail Kosari, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Committee, said that Israel’s Iron Dome system is nothing more “than a type of psychological warfare.” Kosari added, “Israel’s primary goal in publicizing the ‘Iron Dome’ is to intimidate its opponents…”

Iranian envoy slams West for backing terrorists in Syria
(Fars News Agency – March 30, 2014)

Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, the Iranian ambassador to Germany, accused the West of supporting terrorist groups in Syria during his speech at an international conference on Syria in Munich. “The West had not learned from its past strategic mistakes in Syria by supporting terrorist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Al-Nusra Front,” Attar said during the conference.

Senior lawmaker describes Ahmed Shaheed as CIA, Mossad agent
(Fars News Agency – March 29, 2014)

In response to the renewed mandate of Ahmed Shaheed as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Iranian member of parliament Hossein Naqavi Hosseini accused Shaheed of “work[ing] as an agent for the Zionist regime and also the CIA.”

Sayyed Nasrallah tackles regional developments
(Mehr News Agency – March 29, 2014)

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah gave an inaugural speech for the opening of a cultural institute in southern Lebanon that saw heavy fighting between the armed Shi’a organization and Israeli forces in 2006. Nasrallah boasted, “Lebanon’s gold does not exist in the whole world, and with wood, the Lebanese had built the coffins of Israeli soldiers, and will continue to exist for each occupier of this holy land.”

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Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Deghan

Defense Minister: America has long-term plans for the government of Saudi Arabia*
(Tasnim News Agency – March 29, 2014)

Following U.S. President Obama’s publicized visit to Saudi Arabia, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Deghan lashed out against alleged U.S. “plans” for the survival of the Saudi monarchy. Deghan also attacked Israel, stating, “In the field of our military’s intelligence capabilities, we are able to confront the Zionist regime because they do not possess such strength in operational military systems.”

Inter­na­tional Media

Iran inflation slows to two-year low, fulfilling Rouhani pledge
(Bloomberg News – March 30, 2014)

Iran’s inflation rate has fallen to a two-year low while consumer prices rose 23 percent from a year ago.

Gingerly, Iran begins to rock out
(Christian Science Monitor – Mach 30, 2014)

Pop music may still be forbidden in Iran, but there are signs that slowly things are changing.

Iran’s chief rabbi passes away over Shabbat
(Ha’aretz – March 30, 2014)

Iran’s Chief Rabbi Yosef Hamadani Cohen, who led Iran’s Jewish community since 1994, died last weekend.

Iran plans to replace U.N. ambassador in New York
(Reuters – March 29, 2014)

The current Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations will be replaced by Hamid Abutalebi, a longtime diplomat with close ties to President Rouhani and former President Rafsanjani. Abutalebi is suspected of having been involved in the 1979 U.S. embassy hostage crisis; however, this information is still unconfirmed.

N.Y. tower in suit tied to Iran is forfeited, judge rules
(Bloomberg Businessweek – March 28, 2014)

A U.S. District Judge ruled that an Iranian-government owned commercial building in midtown Manhattan will be forfeited by its owners for violating U.S. embargo and federal money laundering laws.

Museum items can’t be seized to pay Iran judgment
(USA Today – March 28, 2014)

A federal judge in Chicago ruled that Iranian terror survivors may not be awarded Persian antiquities and relics in place of the $412 million judgment against the Iranian government.

 

Iran fuel price hikes will be big test for Rouhani
(Reuters – March 27, 2014)

As part of President Rouhani’s pledge to repair the Iranian economy, painful fuel subsidy cuts are in store and pose a risk to Rouhani’s popularity.

Congress prepares second front on Iran sanctions
(Al-Monitor – March 27, 2014)

U.S. Congress is working on new sanctions targeting Iranian support for Hezbollah and supporters of Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad.

Sen. Carl Levin garners 23 Dems for softer-toned Iran talks letter
(JTA – March 27, 2014)

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) circulated a letter among lawmakers urging the White House to continue engaging in diplomacy with Iran.

U.N. extends term of human rights monitor, angering Iran
(New York Times – March 28, 2014)

Iranian government officials expressed anger by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s vote to renew the term for its Iran human rights expert.

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March 12, 2014

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The following is a selection of news reports and commentary from Iranian media and mainstream publications on developments pertaining to Iran. This weekly update includes a sampling of published reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as relevant articles from the international press.

Iranian Media

Lebanon and Palestine’s victory over the Zionist regime represented a glimpse of the IRGC’s power*
(DefaPress – March 5, 2014)

General Ramezan Sharif of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boasted of the IRGC’s military prowess and support for terrorist groups in Lebanon and Palestine. “A glimpse of the IRGC’s [power] was the aid to the victory of Lebanon and Palestine in transnational areas which the enemy itself is well aware of… Today the Islamic Republic will bring the largest damage to America for the smallest mistake. The enemy knows well that it is unable to provide security for the Zionist regime and this is the blessing of the IRGC’s power in the area of defense.”

Supreme Leader: Arrogant powers Spoiling from inside

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Supreme Leader Khamenei meeting with members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts 

(Fars News Agency – March 6, 2014)

In a meeting with members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated, “The superficial tranquility of the arrogant powers and the conventional powers ruling the world are being destroyed and one of its signs is the economic crisis in Europe and the US and the signs of their economic bankruptcy is becoming visible.”

Iranian envoy blames Israel for Syrian tragedy
(Fars News Agency – March 6, 2014)

Iran’s representative to Lebanon said in a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, that “the Zionist regime” is assisting rebel groups in Syria and caring for those injured in Israeli military field hospitals.

The Iranian nation will bury the hopes of America and Israel one by one*
(Tasnim News Agency – March 6, 2014)

IRGC Deputy Commander General Hossein Salami said in a statement in response to the AIPAC conference last week in Washington D.C., “The same way that we buried the enemy front in the past. Today, too, the Iranian nation will bury the hopes of the American leaders who are by the side of their Zionist friends. Be sure that the enemy is unable to do anything greater than it has done in the last 35 years. They did everything they could do and they have been faced with defeat.”

Tehran, Ashton pushes focus on negotiations with top Iranian officials*(Kayhan – March 9, 2014)

In response to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s official visit to Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian foreign minister and special advisor to the Supreme Leader, criticized U.S. officials and their threats against Iran. Velayati said, “Instances of these types of [unproductive] comments [regarding sanctions] by John Kerry and the President of the United States are against Iran and are due to pressure from the Zionists,” Velayati said at a press conference following his meeting with Ashton.

Al-Zahar: Iran, Hamas to further deepen relations soon
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, spoke of improving relations between the Islamist militant group and Iran, “The Hamas movement and Iran have taken special measures and we will see many changes in these relations soon.”

President Rouhani: Regional peace, stability impossible without Iran’s partnership
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

In a meeting with family members of Iranian soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq war, President Rouhani commented, “If the enemy once thought in the early days of the (Islamic) Revolution that Iran was a weak country and could be destroyed by military attack, today it is obvious to everyone that Iran is the most powerful and mighty country in the region.”

Leader’s Aide: Islamic Ummah to continue support for Palestine, resistance against Israel
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

Addressing a gathering of the High Council of the Islamic Awakening World Forum this week, Velayati, the special advisor to the Supreme Leader, pledged continued support for Palestine against Israel. “The enemy is attempting to marginalize the Palestinian issue and draw it off the Muslim world’s priorities…The Islamic Ummah will continue its support for the oppressed Palestinian people and resistance against the Zionist regime,” Velayati said to the gathering.

Our finger is on the trigger to destroy the Zionist regime from a distance of 1,400 kilometers*
(Tasnim News Agency – March 10, 2014

Addressing a seminar on the Role of the Muslim World on Tuesday, IRGC Deputy Commander General Hossein Salami said, “From a distance of 1400 kilometers, our finger is on the trigger to destroy the Zionist regime. It is Islam that has given us the power and expansion to dominate the hearts of the Palestinian people from such geographical distances. Islam gives us hope and force, which allows us to be able to use the necessary force and capacities to destroy the Zionist regime, and until that day comes, our finger will remain on the trigger.”

International Media

Israel’s ‘campaign between the wars’ with Iran (Al-Monitor – March 7, 2014)

Last week’s Israeli naval interception of Gaza-bound missiles from Iran poses the question whether President Rouhani was involved in the planning and/or execution of the shipment.

Iran president condemns hard-line media crackdown
(Washington Post – March 8, 2014)

In a meeting with the nation’s newspaper managers, President Rouhani criticized the closing of two reformist-leaning newspapers in recent months. “Stopping the operation and closing (newspapers) is the last solution – not the first one,” Rouhani said. He added, “Why today is some media absolutely free and some others have little share of this freedom? Government critics and opponents are free and will be free but let government’s supporters also enjoy the same freedom and security as well.”

Mercy and social media slow the noose in Iran
(New York Times – March 8, 2014)

As execution by public hanging has steadily risen since President Rouhani’s election in June 2013, Iranians increasingly resort to social media to spread awareness.

Will Iran’s ‘end to extremism’ take hold?
(Christian Science Monitor – March 9, 2014)

President Hassan Rouhani met with Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, in her first visit to the Islamic Republic since her appointment.

Iran tells EU’s Ashton nuclear deal possible ‘in months’
(BBC – March 9, 2014)

During a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that a nuclear deal could be reached “in four or five months and even shorter.”

Thwarted, for now, Iran’s bid to target all of Israel from Gaza
(Times of Israel – March 10, 2014)

An analysis of Iran’s endeavors to arm militant groups in Gaza and Lebanon with far-reaching missiles that can strike anywhere in Israel.

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August 20, 2013

Sanctions Are A Vital Component Of Diplomacy To Prevent A Nuclear Iran

rouhani-khamenei-ahmadinejad-sanctions

August 2013 inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right)

Just before the halls of Congress emptied out for August Recess, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 850, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, by an overwhelming 400-20, bipartisan vote.  That legislation would greatly expand the scope of international financial transactions with Iran subject to U.S. penalty and would greatly shrink the amount of oil importing nations can buy from Iran without U.S. penalty. 

While there is agreement across the board that the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapons capability, the debate about the role of sanctions in diplomacy continues.  Some in Congress argue against tougher sanctions, saying newly inaugurated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should first be given a chance to show that Iranian intransigence at the negotiating table has ended.  On the other side, just days after the House bill passed, 76 senators sent a letter to President Obama, saying “we believe our nation must toughen sanctions” and asking him to bring a “renewed sense of urgency to the process.”

Rouhani should be judged by his actions, not his soothing statements, and his history as the chief nuclear negotiator, from 2003 to 2005, supports the skeptics.  Describing his previous negotiation tactics, he said in 2004: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.”  Today, the regime continues to enrich uranium, install more centrifuges, and make progress on its plutonium-producing Arak reactor.   As recently reported by The Institute for Science and International Security, at its current pace of development, Iran should have enough centrifuges installed to enrich a bomb’s worth of uranium to weapons grade – without detection – by the middle of next year.

Even more severe sanctions will support diplomacy, not hinder it, by raising the cost of delay and defiance.  As President Obama himself said in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, “Sanctions must exact a real price.  Intransigence must be met with increased pressure” and sanctions must be “tough enough to actually change behavior.”  Clearly, we’re not there yet.

ADL continues to support sanctions legislation that provides the Administration with a full range of diplomatic, economic, and legal tools to pressure the world’s leading state sponsor of terror into verifiably renouncing its nuclear weapons program.  

When Congress returns from its five-week recess, we hope the Senate will follow the House’s lead on this issue and swiftly pass legislation akin to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act.

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